OBE finish in the bunch as stage six is won from the breakaway at the Eneco Tour

Sat 24 Sep 2016

2016 Paris-Nice stage winner Michael Matthews finished in 11th place on stage six of the Eneco Tour today after the stage win came from the breakaway.

After threatening to stay clear on two other occasions in the last few days, stage six saw the early breakaway finally hold off the peloton to take the stage victory.

Luka Pibernik (Lampre-Merida) took the honours after sprinting ahead of his five companions some five seconds ahead of the chasing bunch.

Matthews was the best finisher for ORICA-BikeExchange in 11th place and with no change on the general classification Rohan Dennis (BMC) takes the race lead into tomorrow’s final stage.

Sport director Laurenzo Lapage anticipates an aggressive conclusion to the race on Sunday.

“There was no real commitment to the chase in the finale today,” said Lapage. “We were working to stay in position before the final climb with 30kilometres to go, but after that we didn’t have the numbers to fully commit on the front.”

Caleb Ewan suffered an untimely puncture before the finale and in any case we had Michael (Matthews) up there, but hats off to the breakaway today. They made it stick and stayed away for the stage win.

“It is going to be a hard and aggressive final stage tomorrow, it’s a tough parcours with four climbs over 25kilometres in the second half and a route that is reminiscent of a mini Tour of Flanders.

“The top ten overall are all close together and that should make for an exciting finale.”

How it happened:

Six riders went clear within the opening kilometres on stage six and immediately started to work well together.

Another sunny but windy day in Belgium provided the riders with excellent racing conditions as they criss-crossed the Limberg region south of Masstricht and after 60kilometres the leaders had a steady gap of four minutes on the bunch.

The BMC-led peloton were content to let the breakaway hold at four minutes past the halfway point in the stage and only started to reduce the gap approaching the final 60kilometres.

With less than 40kilometres to go, just over two minutes separated the field with BMC still on the front of the bunch and Dimension-Data beginning to get involved.

Two minutes was the gap with 20kilometres left to race and Tinkoff and Astana now leading the chase over the rolling roads towards the flat and urban finishing circuit.

The six leaders were clearly starting to give in to fatigue with only ten kilometres remaining and the peloton closing at 55seconds with another close finale beginning taking shape.

Eight kilometres later and the leaders were managing to hold the chasing bunch at bay with a 19second advantage and the flamme rouge almost in sight.

Against all odds the breakaway held on, with Pibernik taking the win and the bunch sprinting for the remaining top ten placings five seconds later with Matthews in 11th.

The seventh and final stage takes place tomorrow covering 198kilometres from Bornem to Geraardsbergen.

Eneco Tour stage six results:

1. Luka Pibernik (Lampre-Merida) 04:28:45
2. Mark Mcnally (Wanty-Groupe-Gobert) ST
3. Bert Van Lerberghe (Topsprot-Vlaanderen-Baloise) ST
11. Michael Matthews (ORICA-BikeExchange) ST 

General classification after stage six:

1. Rohan Dennis (BMC) 18:09:37
2. Taylor Phinney (BMC) 00:00:16
3. Tony Martin (Etixx-Quickstep) 00:00:24
49. Michael Matthews (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:01:35