Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) mastered a wet and windy day to take victory on stage 6 of the BinckBank Tour. Wellens beat Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) in a two-up sprint, after the pair got away in the closing kilometres of the race.
Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) got the upper hand on Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) in the bunch behind to take third place on the stage. While Dumoulin was unable to better Wellens in the sprint, he did enough to take the overall race lead from Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo) who finished over a minute down on the leaders. Wellens gained some ground with the bonus seconds on offer in the golden kilometre, putting him just four seconds behind Dumoulin in the overall standings.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) had started the day just two seconds down on the race lead, but dropped out of overall contention after he finished in the same group as Boom following a badly timed puncture. As well as the lack of help chasing from the other riders, Sagan will be most frustrated as he’d initially been in what proved to be the race-winning break.
Sagan had gone clear with Wellens in the final 25 kilometres soon after the riders had tackled the Cote de Saint Roch. The pair appeared to be making good ground when the world champion began shouting into his radio and slipped back from his Belgian companion. The timing could hardly have been worse with no team cars allowed on the section of road as it was too narrow. Sagan was thus forced to ride on with a puncture in his front tyre. Riding with a flat in those conditions proved a challenge even for a rider with Sagan’s bike handling skills and he struggled around some corners and was quickly dropped.
How it happened
With 14 climbs to contend with, it was always going to be an important day for the overall classification and so it turned out to be. The torrential rain throughout only added to the occasion. At 203.7 kilometres, it was the longest stage of the race but it still took some 50 kilometres for the day’s break to form. Six riders took their chance and slipped up the road. They were: Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Sky), Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Rory Sutherland (Movistar), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) and Pieter Weening (Roompot Nederlandse Loterij).
The gap was allowed to grow above five minutes, but with so much at stake and with Martin, Gougars and Van Baarle just over a minute behind in the overall standings, they were never going to be allowed to stay away. By the time they reached the final loop with just over 30 kilometres to go that lead had been brought back to just 30 seconds.
You can read more at Cyclingnews.com