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Tirreno-Adriatico, stage 6: Kittel wins ahead of remarkable Sagan

Second place was perhaps the most impressive result in stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico Monday. Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) earned the glory of a victory, while Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) performed another feat of bike racing wizardry, narrowly avoiding a late crash and somehow chasing back to sprint to second ahead of Max Richeze (Quick-Step Floors).

“I was able to come back for the final sprint but I had spent a lot of energy,” said Sagan. “That’s cycling, there are things you can’t control in a race.”

Stage 6, top 10

1. Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), in 3:49:54
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), s.t.
3. Maximiliano Richeze (Quick-Step Floors), s.t.
4. Sacha Modolo (EF Education First-Drapac), s.t.
5. Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors), s.t.
6. Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal), s.t.
7. Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini), s.t.
8. Simone Consonni (UAE-Team Emirates), s.t.
9. Eduard-Michael Grosu (Nippo-Vini Fantini), s.t.
10. Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin), s.t.

Top-10 overall

1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), in 25:21:22
2. Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing Team) at :03
3. Mikel Landa (Movistar) at :23
4. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), at :29
5. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac), at :34
6. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), at :36
7. Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe), at :37
8. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), at :39
9. George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), at :41
10. Jaime Roson (Movistar), at :47

German champion Marcus Burghardt animated most of the race with a long-range solo attack, coming out of the day’s breakaway after the only king of the mountains sprint on the 153km run to Fano, Italy.

Once the peloton caught Sagan’s Bora teammate, the sprinters’ teams ramped up the pace for a fast finish.

Disaster struck inside of 10 kilometers when Fernando Gaviria touched wheels with one of his Quick-Step teammates and caused a massive crash. Sagan was positioned right on the Colombian’s wheel. The world champion locked up his wheels, fish-tailing the bike with a foot unclipped.

And somehow, Sagan stayed upright.

“When there was the crash with Fernando Gaviria, I was just on the left side of the Quick-Step riders,” said Kittel. “Seconds later, I heard it was Gaviria. I feel sorry for him, but we remained focused on our goal.”

Sagan was forced to chase back to the peloton with merely a few kilometers remaining as Kittel’s Katusha team drove a relentless lead-out pace.

“The riders behind me piled up and my back wheel was damaged, so we had to change it,” Sagan said. “I was able to come back for the final sprint but I had spent a lot of energy.”

After catching the back of the bunch, Sagan weaved through traffic, at one point pulling off an unbelievable inside-line maneuver on a roundabout, hopping curbs and slotting into the top 10.

Around the final right-hand bend, a slight gap opened up in the sprint, and Kittel was forced to open up the throttle. Sagan was right on his wheel and made a late acceleration on the left side, but he couldn’t overcome the German speedster in the lunge to the line.

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) kept his overall lead going into the final stage, a 10.5km individual time trial around San Benedetto del Tronto.

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