Silvan Dillier (BMC) took the biggest win of his career on stage six of the Giro d’Italia, pipping Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) to the line in a close finish in Terme Luigiane.
The pair had been part of a five-man breakaway that rode clear of the peloton for almost all of the 217km stage. They reached the final climb to the line, which featured sections of 10 per cent gradient, with just stage one winner Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) with them, and the trio rode calmly together up the climb until 200m to go with no attacks.
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Swiss rider Dillier was then the first to move and the put paid to Pöstlberger’s chances, with Stuyven just about able to jump onto the BMC man’s wheel.
Dillier however was able to hold his speed against Stuyven – who has a formidable sprint and finished third on stage two’s sprint finish – beatimg the Belgian by half a wheel on the line.
Stuyven was visibly frustrated at missing out, having already placed three times in the top-10 at this 2017 Giro, while Dillier celebrated a monumental victory from the breakaway.
Race leader Bob Jungels (Quick-Step) was able to hold onto his lead for another day as the main GC contenders finished together 39 seconds behind the winner.
Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) and Michael Woods (Cannondale) attempted to get away in the final to take a second or two, but the likes of Geraint Thomas (Sky), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) were able to hold on to them and all the main contenders received the same time.
How it happened
The day’s breakaway got away very early into the long 217km stage, with only half-an-hour gone on the stage when the five-man group of Silvan Dillier (BMC) Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Simone Andreetta (Bardiani CSF) and Lukas Pöstlberger were allowed to establish a significant gap.
They took a maximum gap of almost nine minutes on the bunch and still had just shy of six minutes as they approached 65km to go. That meant teams like Willier Triestina and Cannondale-Drapac, who eyed a valuable win on the day’s uphill finish, began to work hard on the front of the peloton to pull it back.
The break still had five minutes with 40km to go and held three minutes as the peloton crested the second classified climb of the day with 23km to go.
Survival was almost assured as they entered the final 16km with 2-54, with Pedersen the first to drop away with 6.4km to go after he sacrificed himself for team-mate Stuyven.
By this time the gap began tumbling quickly with 1-43 at 6.2km to go, with the climbs towards the finish hampering the breakaway’s progression.
Stuyven then attacked on a climb with 5.6km to go, dropping Andreetta immediately but unable to lose Dillier and Pöstlburger. The three reached the start of the final climb with 1-30 in hand where Dillier and Stuyven fought it out for the tight finish on the line.
The Giro d’Italia continues on Friday with another long stage, as the riders take on a 224km route which should give another chance to the sprinters.
Giro d’Italia 2017 stage six: Reggio Calabria – Terme Luigiane (217k)
1. Silvan Dillier (Sui) BMC Racing, in 4-58-01
2. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, at same time
3. Lukas Pöstleberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 12s
4. Simone Andreetta (Ita) Bardiani CSF, at 26s
5. Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac, at 39s
6. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb
8. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
10. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, all same time
General classification after stage six
1. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors, in 28-20-47
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, at 6 secs
3. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, at 10 secs
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
7. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
9. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing
10. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar, all at same time