Giro d'Italia (st. 6)
After "strange feelings" due to rain early into the stage, Alejandro finishes 10th in Roccaraso's mountain-top finish and climbs onto sixth overall in Giro, 41" behind dominant Dumoulin (TGA). Great job by Herrada, Moreno into final ascent
It was a "strange" day, as Alejandro Valverde categorized it, for the Movistar Team on stage six of the Giro d'Italia. Though the GC contenders couldn't fight for the win in the first mountain-top finish, claimed by an intelligent Tim Wellens (LTS), the Blues showed some of what could be in store from them in the key phase of the Italian grandtour.
In complicated weather conditions -drizzling rain through the first half of the route- and on lumpy roads over the 157km trek from Ponte to Roccaraso, Eusebio Unzué's squad took care very well of both Andrey Amador and 'Bala'. Into the day's main descent, they even, involuntarily split the peloton, coming really close to neutralising the first move from Zhupa (THA) and Bisolti (NIP), while on the approach to the line, good efforts from José Herrada and Javi Moreno kept the pace high before the decisive moves.
Nibali (AST), quickly reached down by SKY, anticipated an attack from race leader Tom Dumoulin (TGA), who went after prior escapees Fuglsang (AST) and Siutsou (DDD) and took Zakarin (KAT) and Pozzovivo (ALM) on his wheel. All five put a dozen seconds on Alejandro Valverde's group, the Spaniard 10th over the line at 1'36" from Wellens. Bala, who in turn added 7" to his advantage over Landa (SKY), overtook Nibali to become sixth overall: 41" behind Dumoulin, 15" in arrears of Fuglsang and 13" after Zakarin. Meanwhile, Amador, 20th today, sits now in sixteenth place in the GC, 1'11" from the pink jersey and 30" after his team-mate.
The Giro resumes Friday with another long stage, 211km between Sulmona and Foligno, more suited to sprinters, sort of a slight recovery en route to an exciting, demanding second weekend in the 'Corsa Rosa'.
Alejandro Valverde: "It was a day of contrasts. We had some heat, some cold, rain, even colder conditions into the descent of Bocca della Selva… we got to the front to avoid any crashes, but when you're leading the pack into such a tricky situation, with those wet roads, it's inevitable that the peloton splits and some people are left further behind. It wasn'a move to get people caught out of balance, but just a way of keeping ourselves safe. The stage got 'ironically' decided after that downhill: when Wellens and Ligthart attacked with Didier, everyone in the peloton pretty much agreed it had no sense to keep them on a leash, considering they were way back in the GC, so the stage-winning chances for the peloton ended there.
"In the finale, my body felt a little bit strange. It's not that I was doing bad into the climb, but I wasn't going as good as I'd have really liked. All in all, our deficit to Dumoulin across the line wasn't so significant, and we put some terrain into Landa and Nibali. I'm happy with the day's result. Dumoulin saying he wasn't coming for the GC? We all knew those quotes were only a means to distract the enemy. We're all sufficiently professional and we know how he's doing and what he's worth . He's doing great and he remains a rival to take pretty much into account."