Cavendish Blasts to Stage Victory in Tirreno-Adriatico
The dominant Omega Pharma-QuickStep Cycling Team succeeded at forming the perfect lead-out train for Cavendish in the final sprint of the 189 kilometer stage 6, which took the riders from Bucchianico to Porto Sant Elpidio. Team Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank's Alberto Contador remains general classification leader after today's stage.
With about 2.5 kilometers to go, Omega Pharma-QuickStep had five riders in front of Cavendish to protect and support him in the sprint. In experienced fashion the team navigated the final turns and - thanks to powerful work by Tony Martin and Mark Renshaw - kept the pace high enough at the front to stretch out the peloton and fend off competing sprinters. By keeping the team's sprinter at the front of the peloton, the team protected itself from the damaging effects of a serious crash, which brought down sprint aces from other teams.
When it came down to just Cavendish and teammate Alessandro Petacchi at the front of the peloton with a couple hundred meters to go, the duo had already parted ways with the competing sprinters and teams. Cavendish fired on all engines in solo fashion and Petacchi was able to throw his hand up in celebration of his team leader and still cross the finish line for a 1-2 finish.
Working for its sprinter Peter Sagan, the Cannondale team had set a high pace earlier in the stage in an effort to reel in a breakaway group which featured riders such as BMC Racing Team's Steve Morabito and Jack Bauer (Team Garmin-Sharp-POC). The high pace caused German Giant-Shimano sprinter Marcel Kittel to lose contact.
When the breakaway was caught with ten kilometer to go, former World Champion Philippe Gilbert of Team BMC Racing counter attacked. He was brought back with 3.4 km to go by the sprint teams before Omega Pharma-QuickStep moved to the front of the peloton and activated its dominant lead-out train for Cavendish.
"I'm incredibly happy," stage winner Cavendish told Roadcycling.com. "Yesterday I felt the worst I've felt in a long time. Considering the day before, today I felt really good even from the beginning. The team stayed with me, with today's goal obviously to win the sprint."
"Kwiatkowski was sad about yesterday (where he lost the overall race lead to Contador), but he gave everything today to try and get us the stage win. We didn't have to work as we'd worked the whole week. We are tired. We knew the Cannondale team would try to break it up on the last climb, but the team stayed with me, especially Kwiatkowski and Tony Martin keeping me out of the wind and bringing me back to the front as soon as possible."
"Then that lead out, that leadout was fast. The whole team was fabulous in the final. We stayed together, we didn't get carried away and go too early. So we had the all the big motors in the last four kilometers. Tony just went on the front with no one to match us. Then Kwiato went and took us into the last kilometer. it was down to Matteo, Renshaw, Petacchi, and myself."
"I knew when Renshaw went with about 600 meters to go, I knew it would be hard for anyone to pass because we were going that fast. We were doing more than 1000 watts for the last 600 meters. We can go home and celebrate this victory tonight, and go for a good result with our two big engines tomorrow: Kwiato and Tony Martin. We've got 23-year-olds like Kwiato and Matteo, and 40-year-olds like Petacchi. But it really feels like a bunch of kids just going out to race their bikes."
Tomorrow's final stage of the 2014 Tirreno-Adriatico is a 9.1 kilometer individual time trial in which general classification leader Alberto Contador is hoping to confirm his status as anticipated Tirreno-Adriatico winner. Look for Omega Pharma - QuickStep's German World Champion Tony Martin to shine on the Italian roads as well.