Richie Porte (Sky) has safely retained the overall race lead in the Volta a Catalunya in Spain after stage six, with just one stage of the WorldTour race remaining.
Russian rider Sergei Chernetski (Katusha) took the stage win from a day-long escape group, edging out Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) by a tyre-width on the line, with Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) in third.
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A large 21-rider escape group led the racing over the day’s highest climb, the first category Alt de Prades after 90km. Sky set the pace of the chasing peloton, but there was too much commitment in the lead group for the catch to be made, despite a drop in numbers to 12 riders within the final 10km.
American Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) did much of the pace-making in the finale, mindful that he could claw back some time and work his way further up the overall classification after crashing and losing time on stage three, then recovering to win stage four.
Porte leads Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) by five seconds overall. Third-placed overall at the start of the day, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was caught up in a crash within the final three kilometres but was awarded the same time as the bunch.
The 2015 Volta a Catalunya concludes on Sunday with a 126.6km stage to Barcelona.
Volta a Catalunya 2015, stage six: Cervera to Port Aventura, 194.1km
1. Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Katusha
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx-QuickStep
3. Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
4. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar
5. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
6. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
7. Georg Preidler (Aut) Giant-Alpecin
8. Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis at same time
9. Tom Danielson (USA) Cannondale-Garmin at 3 secs
10. Carlos Verona (Spa) Etixx-QuickStep at same time
Overall classification after stage six
1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
2. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 5 secs
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 7 secs
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 16 secs
5. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx-QuickStep at 18 secs
6. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 27 secs
7. Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC at 33 secs
8. Rafael Valls (Spa) Lampre-Merida at 43 secs
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1-09
10. Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin at 1-35