Arnaud Démare pulls clear of rivals sprinters
This year’s Giro d'Italia looked like it might be an open contest between the sprinters, with the likes of Peter Sagan, Fernando Gaviria and Michael Matthews all looking to sweep up stages where they can.
But Arnaud Dèmare appears to have other ideas, as he swept aside his rivals on the stage six uphill finish on a stage that looked like it might be too hard for a pure powerhouse rider.
It wasn’t easy for the Frenchman, as he had to fight to stay in contact with the group over the Galleria Millotta climb 20km from the finish and looked to be too far back in the bunch as the lead group hit the final climb.
Somehow Démare overcame all the odds and found the front of the race right at the final turn and once the line was in sight he didn’t look back.
Démare won the stage by a huge margin over the nearest riders behind to take his second victory of the race on two very different stage profiles.
His rivals are going to have to rethink their approach if they want to topple the dominant sprinter of this race so far.
Peter Sagan misses out after tactical errors in the final
Victory in this year’s Giro looks to be on the horizon for Peter Sagan, but it definitely wasn’t to be on stage six after a tactical error in the final cost the Bora-Hansgrohe rider the front of the race.
Bora controlled the pace for much of the day and kept the break within reach, as the team had clear intentions for Sagan on a stage that suited the versatile sprinter down to the ground.
But the plan appeared to fall to pieces in the final two corners of the stage, as Sagan found himself at the front of the race a long way out and Rafał Majka then took up the lead-out, with Sagan forced to drop back a few wheels to try and stay in prime position.
Into the final left-hand turn Sagan was swamped as Démare and his other rivals surged up the group wide and the former world champion disappeared back into the melee.
Sagan only managed an eighth place finish after being blocked behind the front row of contenders, a disappointing result after some great work by his team.
But with two second-place finishes so far in the race, Sagan is far from done in this race.
Sprinters fight with GC contenders for the stage
Stage six of the Giro offered up one of those unique profiles that pits all kinds of riders against one another.
With some big uncategorised climbs to tackle early in the day, followed by the third category Galleria Millotta and the final uphill finish in Matera, the sprinters hoped to hold on for a bunch gallop while the climbers and general classification riders hoped to ramp up the pace to be in with a chance come the final few hundred metres.
Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) was one of the GC contenders to show his intentions, holding the front of the race late into the stage before slipping back in finishing safely in the bunch, while Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) put in a stinging attack that didn’t quite stick.
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) was the best-placed of the GC riders on the stage, finishing in 14th.
There were no changes in the GC top-10 on the stage, but the aggressive racinh may be of sign of what we can expect from the contenders.
Michael Matthews closes in on Giro stage victory
Michael Matthews has a reputation for being an opportunistic sprinter and he pounced on his chance during stage six.
While he may not have the palmarès of a rider like Sagan and may not win as consistently as Démare, Matthews can place himself at the sharp end when he needs to, and things very nearly worked out on this stage.
Matthews comfortably made it over the climbs and was right at the front into the final turn, but just couldn’t match the raw power of Démare on the final straight.
After finishing fourth on the uphill finish stage four to Agrigento and then eighth in the pure sprint to Villafranca Tirrena, Matthews has just been missing that little bit of luck he needs to reach the top step of the podium.
The Australian already has victories in all three Grand Tours and so has nothing to prove in this Giro, but if he continues to place himself in the top-10, he’d gladly take another addition to his collection.
Fight for the ciclamino jersey escalates
While there weren’t any changes in the top-10 overall, despite pink jersey Joâo Almeida (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) being taken out by Brandon Mcnulty (UAE Team Emirates) when Almeida stopped at the side of the road, things are heating up in the points classification.
Peter Sagan had held the advantage in the ciclamino jersey race heading into stage six with a modest five-point lead over Démare, but that all changed after the latter’s second stage win.
Démare narrowed the gap slightly, scoring four points at the intermediate sprint to Sagan’s two, but the final result changed the competition.
With his win Démare now leads by a healthy 39 points over Sagan and takes the jersey for the first time this race, with Démare on 106 and Sagan on 67.
Matthews is still in reach of Sagan as well on 55 points, so the competition is still open after almost a week of racing.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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