Messy Finale to Tirreno-Adriatico Stage Six

Mon 17 Mar 2014

Mark Cavendish (OPQ) sprinted to victory in a chaotic conclusion to another tough day of racing at Tirreno-Adriatico. Daryl Impey was the best placed rider for ORICA-GreenEDGE in 13th place on stage six. Alberto Contador successfully protected his overall lead, finishing on bunch time.

“We haven’t got a sprinter here,” said Sport Director Matt White. “There wasn’t much for us on a stage like this. The guys have done a lot of hard work all week, so the main objective today was to get through the stage unscathed.” 

“We were two men down today,” White added. “Jens Mouris didn’t start. He wasn’t feeling well, and we think he may be coming down with some sort of virus. He’s meant to race on Thursday, and it didn’t make sense to push him today. He had wanted to do a good ride in the time trial, but he’s not at his best."

“Svein Tuft stopped riding in the feed zone,” White added. “He has an inflamed throat, and we pulled him as a precautionary measure ahead of some of his bigger goals in the next couple weeks.”

Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky), Steve Morabito (BMC), Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) and Cesare Benedetti (NetApp-Endura) dutifully animated the early action. The four rider breakaway formed on the day’s first climb, stretching out their advantage to 5’30 after the opening hour of racing.

“It was a standard break today,” said White. “The move went early, and the peloton kept everything under control.

While Tinkoff-Saxo initially set tempo, Cannondale dispatched riders to the front over the Sant’Elpidio. Their increase in pace split the peloton, with Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano) the most notable amongst the riders to miss out on the front group. Cannondale continued to turn the screws on the front of group one as Giant-Shimano chased furiously.

“The splits happened on the climb coming home,” said White. “Kittel and a couple other sprinters got dropped, and they never came back on. It was a good move by Cannondale there.”

The break entered the finishing circuit with a shrinking advantage over the first group on the road. While the gap between the Cannondale-led group and the Giant-Shimano-led group had come down as well, it wasn’t small enough to close entirely before the sprint trains would begin to vie for control, upping the pace yet again.

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step was well-positioned on the front of the bunch as they overtook the breakaway and readied for the sprint. A crash just past the final corner took out the Lotto Belisol train, including André Greipel. The incident disrupted the pack as Cavendish’s lead-out put on a clinic in the finishing stretch. By the time Cavendish opened his sprint, he already had a gap on the field. The Manxman’s last lead-out man, Alessandro Petacchi, took second, and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) rounded out the podium.

“The last stage is tomorrow, and we have a couple guys who are very focused on the time trial,” said White. “They’re looking to finish up the week on a high note.”