Tim Merlier won stage six of Tirreno-Adriatico 2020 ahead of Pascal Ackermann and Magnus Cort in a very chaotic sprint finish.
Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) timed his sprint to absolute perfection as he kicked around Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) to take the stage by half a bike ahead of the fast finishing Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) who came from a long way back.
Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) remains in the blue leaders jersey with no change in the general classification.
How it happened
The riders started in the town of Castelfidardo before heading 171km along the coast for the first half of the stage before heading inland to then arc back down to the coast and the finishing town of Senigallia, where the peloton took in four or so laps of the pan flat circuit.
A five-man break went up the road and pulled out a maximum gap of three minutes that held for the majority of the stage.
The break was made up of Axel Domont (Ag2r La Mondiale), Carl Frederik Hagen (Lotto-Soudal), Veljko Stojnić (Vini Zabù-KTM), Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) and Croatian champion, Josip Rumac (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec).
The break crossed the finish line for the first time of four with a gap of two minutes and 45 seconds with 64km to go.
Behind, the pace was slowly being lifted by Bora-Hansgrohe, UAE Team Emirates, Deceuninck – Quick-Step, Alpecin-Fenix, Team Sunweb and Israel Start-Up Nation.
As the break crossed the line for the penultimate time with 16km to go and a gap of 20 seconds back to the now charging peloton.
The break then split in two with the two WorldTour riders going clear in Hagen and Domont with Stojnić and Rumac dropping back into the peloton.
Hagen was the last man to be caught with 13km to go by Total Direct Energie who had control of the peloton in the back straight.
As they turned onto the finishing straight it was Ineos Grenadiers and Israel Start-Up Nation that took control with 8km to go.
The finale was incredibly hectic with riders competing to be in the dangerous inside of the road to avoid the wind and Alpecin-Fenix timed the move to the front perfectly.
Merlier managed to jump on the wheel of Gaviria just as the Colombian kicked for his sprint, Merlier went straight by him and held a very powerful sprint to the line.
Tirreno-Adriatico 2020, stage six: Castelfidardo to Senigallia (171km)
1. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix, in 3-59-30
2. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Magnus Cort (Den) EF Pro Cycling
4. Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
5. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
6. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
7. Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
8. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
9. Iván García (Esp) Bahrain-McLaren
10. Alex Aranburu (Esp) Astana, all at saem time.
General classification after stage six
1. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, in 23-36-59
2. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 16s
3. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 39s
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana, 49s
5. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 54s
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 1-00
7. James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 1-21
8. Michael Woods (Can) EF Pro Cycling, at 1-22
9. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 2-28
10. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, at 2-44