2021 Giro d’Italia stage 6: Gino Mäder solos to win on windy, rain-soaked route
Remco Evenepoel moved into second overall, 11 seconds behind new overall leader Attila Valter.
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Gino Mäder (Bahrain-Victorious) soloed to victory on windy and very wet stage 6 of the 2021 Giro d’Italia.
Surviving challenging weather, the Swiss rider rode solo at the front of the race on the final climb and scored redemption a day after teammate Mikel Landa crashed out on the previous stage.
“Yesterday was such a sad day with what happened to Mikel and today we said that we’re going to ride in honor of Mikel’s lost Giro,” Mäder said. “We put everything into getting into the breakaway and luckily Matej [Mohoric] was super strong. It’s such a nice feeling after Paris-Nice and missing by so little and now being on the top step is super nice.”
Mäder narrowly missed out on a stage win at Paris-Nice when Jumbo-Visma’s Primož Roglič passed him with just 25m remaining on a steep climb.
Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) appeared to be riding in a controlled fashion, shadowing Egan Bernal (Ineos-Grenadiers) and moved into second overall on the General Classification behind Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ).
“I cannot be more surprised or happier. I was planning to do it, and I knew I had the good climbing legs to go stronger than the riders in front of me, and I just had to hang on with the best climbers today,” said Valter. “It was not an easy stage with the weather conditions, but I can just cry right now. I was trying to keep eyes on everyone. I saw them all in front of me, but I felt in my legs I had the strength. The motivation gives you extra power.”
Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) dropped out of the lead, losing nearly a quarter of an hour on the day on the 161-kilometer route which brought the peloton over a series of mid-stage peaks topping off at 1,500m elevation, followed by a 42km descent, and then a summit finish of Ascoli Piceno in San Giacomo.
How it happened
Off and on rain pelted the race throughout the day, driven by a strong wind on the last third of the stage.
A break consisting of Simone Ravanelli (Androni Giocattoli–Sidermec), Simon Guglielmi (Groupama–FDJ), Matej Mohoric and Gino Mäder (both Bahrain-Victorious), Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin–Fenix), Dario Cataldo (Movistar Team), Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R-Citroën), and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) had just over five minutes with 100km remaining.
At 67km to go, former race-leader Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) went to the front to drag the pace on a long descent, causing a fracture in the main group which exploded in to three groups behind the leaders.
The Ineos-Grenadiers squad — less Pavel Sivakov who crashed out yesterday — were all over the front of the chase, with Bora-Hansgrohe, and Team DSM doing what they could to stay with the British team.
Overnight GC-leader Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) was gapped behind Ineos Grenadiers’ group, with only teammate Guy Niv to escort him after the acceleration lead by Ganna.
The gap to the front was down to three minutes, while behind, GC contender Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) was put under pressure as strong headwinds prevented further time losses.
Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) dropped off off the back of the second group on the road while ahead, Bouchard had been gapped from the front group now pacing single-file.
A chase group was 2:21 back of the break at 35km, with the magnolia rosa group some 30 seconds behind the second group.
The front group of eight had been thinned to just four: Mäder, Cataldo, Mohoric, and Mollema on a long descent with water sheeting across the road surface.
Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Nippo), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), and Romain Bardet (Team DSM) gave chase off the front of the move initiated by Ganna.
Following a 42km descent and with barely 17km to go, the maglia rosa had given up nearly nine minutes to the group on the front, still racing ahead of Ganna’s group.
Evenepoel hitched a ride on Bernals’ wheel, still being towed along by Ganna into the final 15km and the final climb.
Mohoric had been shed on the base of the climb, his work done for the day.
At 12km to go, the Team BikeExchange car hit Pieter Serry (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), but after an exchange of words, some fist-shaking, and a bike change, Serry remounted and took to the climb again.
Up the road from this brush-up, Ineos Grenadiers’ work had brought the gap to the lead three to two minutes on the steepest pitches of the final climb, while De Marchi slipped even further back and was at 13 minutes behind Mollema’s group.
Behind Ganna, teammate Jonathan Castroviejo flatted at 5km to go, with Bernal still shadowed by Evenepoel.
Mäder attacked the break at 3.5km to go just as Dani Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers) attacked from the front chasing group that was just a minute behind.
Evenepoel looked calm and controlled behind Martínez at 2,500m meters to go as Bernal tapped out a steady tempo into the final kilometers of the stage.
As Bernal and Evenepoel went after the remains of the break at 2km, Ciccone jumped with them and brought Mäder to within half a minute under the red kite.
Bernal attacked again a kilometer later, with Evenepoel, Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), and Ciccone matching the Colombian’s move.
After his first professional win Mäder said, “As soon as I was alone and the last survivor of the breakaway, the only thing I could think of was Paris-Nice. There was that sharp doubt in my head that the same thing was going to happen. With 100 meters to go, I could finally celebrate and enjoy the moment.”
What’s to come
Stage 7 Friday is a 181km coastal route, from Notaresco to Termoli. After rolling over several short climbs mid-stage in the first half of the stage, the second half may allow for sprinters’ teams to once again set up a bunch gallop to the line.
Results will be available once stage has completed.