A royal battle between the big guns of this year’s Paris-Nice – including Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), Richie Porte (BMC Racing) and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) – left the Welshman in the overall lead as the race nears its conclusion.
Honours on the day, however, went to Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), who overtook Thomas on the final bend to narrowly take the stage victory.
The 177km route from Nice to a summit finish at La Madone d’Utelle featured seven categorised climbs and began with Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) six seconds clear at the front of the GC. Thomas, placed sixth, was 23 seconds back.
At its largest, the day’s original breakaway consisted of seven riders and one chaser, and they pushed their lead to a maximum of 2-25. Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida), Cyril Gautier (Direct Energie), Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick Step), Gregory Rast (Trek-Segafredo), Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie), Florian Vachon (Fortuneo–Vital Concept) and Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko Marseille Provence KTM) were ahead, with Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) chasing.
Paris-Nice stage six, Nice to Madone d’Utelle (177km)
1. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 4-45-11
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, st
3. Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff at 1s
4. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing at 7s
5. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky at 10s
6. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge at 20s
7. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 31s
8. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale at 31s
9. Jon Izaguirre (Esp) Movistar, st
10. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal, st
Overall standings after stage six
1. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 24-10-26
2. Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff at 15s
3. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 20s
4. Riche Porte (Aus) BMC Racing at 21s
5. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 32s
6. Jon Izaguirre (Esp) Movistar at 37s
7. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, st
8. Simon Yates (GBr) Team Sky at 44s
9. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal at 51s
10. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale at 1-00