Tough day in the saddle for ORICA-SCOTT on stage six of the BinckBank TourSat 12 Aug 2017
Truly miserable conditions characterised the sixth stage of the BinckBank Tour in Belgium today, relentless heavy rain and strong winds made for a hard race that resulted in an overall shake up and time losses for many teams including ORICA-SCOTT.
As many riders abandoned in the gruesome conditions, GC hopeful Jens Keukeleire did well to hold position behind the early breakaway over the 203kilometre stage through the wintry Ardennes.
The late and decisive attacks came with 30kilometres to go once the breakaway had been neutralised and the race favourites had formed the selection that sped away after the climb up the Cote de Saint Roche.
Keukeleire was alive to the initial move, but lost contact with the head of the race as the relentless attacks further split the contenders, forming three leading groups on the road.
Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) led with Tom Dumoulin (Team-Sunweb) and the pair created and held a healthy gap into the finish with Wellens taking the stage win and Dumoulin moving into the overall race lead with only tomorrow's final stage to come.
“That was a truly difficult day out there today,” said sport director Laurenzo Lapage. “A lot of guys were suffering and tested to the limit. We had raced well and our positioning was excellent up until the final attacks, Jens gave it everything he had, but just didn’t have the legs to go with those guys over the top of the Saint Roche.”
“You can’t ask for anything more, these are the best classics riders in the world and these last two stages are mini-classics in their own right. When the favourites unleash a series of attacks like that in key moments you not only have to be there, but you need that top end to be able to follow and we missed that last two percent today.
“I’m proud of the guys, they have raced hard all week and gave it everything again today, we have one more tough day to come tomorrow, three times over the Muur van Geraardsbergen. It will be like the Tour of Flanders and for sure we will see a big battle between the favourites for the victory.”
How it happened:
Grim conditions welcomed the riders to the start of the 204kilometre stage six this morning, heavy rain and strong winds lased the peloton into a fast start and despite the many attacks it was two hours before a six rider breakaway managed to gain an advantage.
Five minutes separated the field at the halfway point with lots of rolling Ardennes roads still to come. The conditions did not improve and forced the abandon of a number of riders.
Approaching the final 50kilomettes and the peloton started to eat into the lead of the breakaway, falling to three minutes on the climb to Le Vieux Chemin.
The gap continued to fall with Team-Sunweb and Lotto-Soudal setting the pace in the peloton, finally coming back together on the Cote de Saint Roche with 30kilometres to go.
Fresh attacks followed and a group of favourites went clear that included Keukeleire before the group split further on the sharp, narrow ramps that led towards the finish.
Three chasing groups separated by one minute sped into the finale with Keukeleire in the third group as Tom Dumoulin and Wellens advanced at the head of the race.
Wellens sealed the stage victory with Dumoulin in second and Keukeleire crossing the line part of the second group of chasers over a minute later.
BinckBank Tour stage six results:
1. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) 05:04:36
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team-Sunweb) ST
3. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) 00:00:17
22. Jens Keukeleire (ORICA-SCOTT) 00:01:42
General Classification after stage six:
1. Tom Dumoulin (Team-Sunweb) 20:27:49
2. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) 00:00:04
3. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) 00:00:46
12. Jens Keukeleire (ORICA-SCOTT) 00:02:21
Photos courtesy of ©TDWsport.com