It’s no secret that bike racing provides a gradual build of excitement, with much of it relying on the interplay between tension and release. A well timed attack from the favorites on the mountains. A crash and the resulting chase back to the group. A scrambled leadout and the battle for a sprint victory. This stage had one helping of the latter and three helpings of the second of those situations.
Mark Cavendish has been his regular outspoken self regarding the level of his leadout train since joining OPQS and today, with all of that tension and those expectations built within the team, the OPQS team came through and made the sprint to the line for Cavendish look confident, certain and easy.
The day, which before the start, appeared to be one that the teams could approach with some ease due to the flat profile and lack of trouble areas was just the kind that would tempt the hand of fate. Numerous crashes plagued the peloton including a motorcycle spinout and an incredible display of riding his bike like a bull but not going down by Jackson Rodriguez. At one point a major crash in the last 30km caught the enitrety of Team Sky behind and numerous splits formed on the road as Wiggins and company had panic in their eyes. Having lost 17 seconds two days earlier by a little lapse in focus and then a delay by a crash, Sky wasn’t about to let the hopes of the Maglie Rosa take another big hit as the group buried themselves to bring it all back together, Wiggins included.
In the end, the tension that added a certain level of devilish excitement to what may have been an otherwise uneventful stage save the sprint, offered a dramatic release at the line for all involved, but mostly for Cavendish and OPQS. The peloton will look back on this stage tonight over dinner and be feeling happy and relieved to have that one behind them.
Giovanni Visconti, who came into the race as one of three Movistar GC top-ten threats and was in 14th, lost 4’20” today and it seems that Benat Intxausti now will be the sole go-to rider for the team. Now, it could be argued that Visconti and Capecchi were only stage hunters and neither had any chance for a top ten, and that likely would be a fair assessment, but it’s certain now as Visconti dropped to 53rd (+5’12”) and would need to perform a miracle to climb back into top ten contention, especially considering the likelihood of his required assistance of Intxausti.
Stage 6 Top Five
1. Mark Cavendish (OPQS)
2. Elia Viviani (CAN)
3. Matt Goss (OGE)
4. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ)
5. Mattia Gavazzi (AND)
Overall Classification after Stage 6
1. Luca Paolini (KAT)______23h52’42″
2. Rigoberto Uran (SKY)___+17″
3. Benat Intxausti (MOV)___+26″
4. Vincenzo Nibali (AST)___+31″
5. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM)___+34″
6. Bradley Wiggins (SKY)
7. Giampaolo Caruso (KAT)_+36″
8. Sergio Luis Henao (SKY)__+37″
9. Mauro Santambrogio (VIN)_+39″
10. Cadel Evans (BMC)_____+42″
12. Robert Gesink (BLA)____+45″
18. Samuel Sanchez (EUS)__+1’18″
20. Michele Scarponi (LAM)__+1’23″
26. Carlos Betancur Gomez (ALM)_+1’41″
27. Domenico Pozzovivo (ALM)___+1’41″