The Tour Take | GIRO D'ITALIA Stage 6

 Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

The Steps

1st – Esteban Chaves

2nd – Simon Yates @ s.t

3rd – Thibaut Pinot @0:26

The Parcours

Stage 6 was the climax of the Giros’s Sicilian adventure, and the 164km ride finished up the active volcano Mt Etna. Officially 14.1km at 6.6%, the course really started heading uphill with about 40km to go, only stopping for a short descent at 25km to go. There were a few rolling roads like the two previous stages, but not any categorised climbs before Etna, making for a furious ascent and the first real nailbiter of the race.

The Jerseys

Simon Yates took the Maglia Rosa as he attacked from the group of favourites with a kilometre and a half to go; he leads the race by 16 seconds from Tom Dumoulin, and 26 seconds from his teammate Chaves, who’s in third. Chaves wears the KOM Jersey, having won the stage, and therefore the first Category 1 climb of the race. Viviani keeps his Points Jersey, and Richard Carapaz of Movistar takes the White Jersey (he’s 1:23 back on Yates)

 

 

The Break

With a break winning on Etna last year, there was some hot competition to get in the break. One finally went away after about an hour (in which they covered about 46km), and it was a doozy of a group. Around 30 riders including Esteban Chaves escaped, as well as a few other strong riders like Ben O’Connor, Sergio Henao, Alessandro De Marchi and Sam Oomen.

 

That group was allowed to get a three and a half minute advantage before anyone bothered to chase. With 27km to go, they still held a 2-minute gap – Astana missed the break entirely and did some work, while BMC helped chase to try and retain the pink jersey.

 

The Final Climb

With 20km to go, we had a small group out front, including Henao, Oomen, Chaves, De Marchi, Ben Hermans, Giulio Ciccone, Robert Gesink, Diego Ulissi and Sebastian Reichenbach. From there, it was a minute back to an Astana-led peloton which had only 25 riders left, as the Kazakh team chased hard. While a small peloton, most big names were still present.

 

The Winning move

Henao, Gesink and Ciccone were the main aggressors in the early slopes, as Chaves followed moves and looked to make the difference late; that moment came to go with 5km to go. Dumoulin, Lopez, and Pozzovivo all chased from the peloton and brought back the other escapees, but nobody made any time up on Chaves until teammate Simon Yates jumped away with a kilometre and a half to go.

 

Yates bridged up to his teammate with 500 metres to go, and the two rode across the line side by side, 26 seconds ahead of the peloton. Chaves took the win, and Yates took the Maglia Rosa.

The GC Movers and Shakers

This was a stage with huge ramifications, even if the time gaps weren’t enormous. Firstly, you have to wonder why a break with Chaves was given such a big gap. Nearly every team with a GC contender had a rider in the break, hence the general reluctance to chase; but if you’re Chris Froome, is it really worth giving Chaves three minutes, just because you have Sergio Henao there with him? Or was just everyone bluffing, hoping the large group would just break down, and another team would ride the front. That’s a huge gamble to make when a legitimate GC contender is riding away from you.

 

Fortunately for the bulk of GC guys, they were pulled back to a more reasonable time gap, but Yates announced himself big time. We’ve seen glimpses of how good his form was through the first few stages, but this was confirmation. It was mindboggling how fast he was over the last kilometre and a half compared to Dumoulin, Froome, Pinot etc.

 

Yates and Chaves have the potential to go full Schleck brothers here for the rest of the Giro and just take turns destroying the pelo (yeah, I know Yates already has a brother on Michelton-Scott, but he isn't here is he). Pretty rare to have two teammates, both capable of winning a grand tour, and those guys working together instead of hating each other’s guts (eg Froome/Wiggins, Lance/Contador in recent memory).

 

Pozzovivo has been surprisingly good so far – he was active in the final kilometres, while Dumoulin looks strong too. Chris Froome looked like he struggled but it’s always hard to tell with Chris, as he religiously rides to power. Rohan Dennis lost the jersey, but limited his time losses by riding consistently up the climb too – he’s not in the top echelon of climbers, but he stuck around longer than you might expect, and will keep riding smartly over three weeks.

 

The Aussies

12th – Ben O’Connor @43 seconds

21th – Rohan Dennis @1:04 

60th – Jack Haig @10:37

143st - Zak Dempster 

84th – Adam Hansen

114th- Mitch Docker

148th- Chris Hamilton


Tonight

After a little taster of the mountain fun to come in the second half of this Giro, Stage 7 is 159km from Pizzo to Praia a Marie. There are zero categorized climbs, and it reaches a max height of 146m above sea level.

 

The Pick

Can anyone beat Viviani in a sprint? Is the Pope Jewish? Does pineapple belong on pizzas? Was Murali a better bowler than Shane Warne? No.