Spain’s Pelayo Sanchez claimed victory on stage six of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday as he out-sprinted two other breakaway riders at the uphill finish at Rapolano Terme.
Sanchez (Movistar), France’s Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) and Australian Luke Plapp (Jayco AlUla) kept clear of the chasing peloton at the climax of the 180km ride. But the 24-year-old Sanchez had the legs to hold Alaphilippe and fellow Giro debutant Plapp at bay.
Race leader Tadej Pogacar finished safely in the peloton to retain the Maglia Rosa ahead of today’s time trial.
A fast and furious stage featuring two of the gravel sections used at this year’s Strade Bianche took the riders on an undulating route through the Tuscan countryside. After a day of constant attacks, a lead group was eventually established but that was whittled down to just three as the dusty gravel sections began to take their toll.
At one point Plapp was the virtual race leader but the peloton, powered at the front by the Ineos Grenadiers, gave chase and finished only 29 seconds behind.
“This is amazing, a crazy day for me,” Sanchez said of his biggest career win. “I could never imagine winning this stage. It was full gas all day and I waited for my moment to do my move and in the end I was with Plapp and Alaphilippe and luckily I was the fastest in the sprint.”
Slovenian GC favourite Pogacar resisted any urge to go for the stage victory, but looked rock solid in the peloton on a day when average speeds reached 44kph over four hours of racing.
Pogacar leads the overall battle by 46 seconds from Ineos Grenadiers’ Geraint Thomas with Dani Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe) in third a further second back.
“For us it was perfect if (the breakaway) stayed away,” Pogacar said. “We didn’t want to spend too much energy. Ineos were riding super fast on the gravel but for me it was a good stage, happy it’s over, it was an enjoyable day.”
Pogacar’s Giro debut could not have gone any better so far and he will look to build his lead in today’s time trial - a 40.6km test from Foligno to Perugia.
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