Gerrans powers to victory in stage 6 of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Today's penultimate stage of the 2013 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya took the riders 179 kilometers from Almacelles to Valls - home town of late Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and Paris-Nice stage winner Xavier Tondo who died in a tragic accident in May of 2011 .
The beginning of the stage wasn't contested fiercely. The peloton took time to remember their former colleague Tondo and also held back because of the challenges which awaited come the second half of the stage.
After numerous breakaway group combinations had been proposed to the controlling peloton, they eventually allowed an eight rider breakaway group - featuring Saxo-Tinkoff's Chris Anker Sørensen - to build a small, but controllable lead as the peloton approached the day’s first of two categorized climbs. Because the group featured general classification hopefuls, it was never granted a lead of more than one and a half minutes by the chasing peloton, which was controlled by a joint effort from many teams.
On the slopes of the second category climb of Alt de Lilla a forty man group formed as a result of hard work from the BMC Racing Team. It included eventual stage winner Gerrans of Team GreenEdge. In the final kilometers the front group had gotten further minimized. When the sprint had started, Gerrans came from behind, accelerating out of the final corner passing the other charging riders to cross the finish line in first position.
Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep's two-stage winner Gianni Meersman followed Gerrans across the finish line and Samuel Dumoulin rounded out the podium for Team AG2R.
Commenting on his stage victory Gerrans told Roadcycling.com "I'm really happy with the stage win. It was a huge team effort today. They did a really fantastic job. After that, it was just a matter of Brett Lancaster and I taking care of our position ahead of the final."
"The races split up the last climb,” Gerrans explained and added “There was still a little breakaway just up the front. They had maybe 30 seconds or so at this point. We rode quite fast from behind to bring that back."
"In the build-up to the sprint, I positioned myself around the guys that I know are going quite well at the moment," Gerrans continued. "I was able to keep myself in a good place, and I came through that last left-hander in tenth wheel or so. I was far back, but I knew the guys in front of me were still lead out riders, so I had time to come around them."
"I kicked quite hard out of the corner. This gave me the opportunity to move up and use my momentum to pop out in the last couple hundred meters. I had the legs to come from behind today. It's fantastic to get another WorldTour stage win for the team."
Team Garmin-Sharp's Martin leads the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya overall by 17 seconds - three seconds more than before today's stage because of a three second time bonus he gained in a mid-stage sprint. Joaquim Rodriguez is in second position for Team Katusha and Movistar's Nairo Quintana is in third, 45 seconds behind Martin.
Today's stage was a tribute to Tondo. The stage finished in front of the town's stadium, which has been named after Tondo. Stage winner Gerrans was handed the stage winner's prize by Tondo's parents. A Xavier Tondo biography titled El triomf de l’obstinació will be revealed later tonight.
The 2013 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya concludes tomorrow with a stage in Barcelona, which includes the famous Montjuic climb as part of its eight lap finishing circuit. Look for explosive Rodriguez to challenge Martin's overall lead in a fierce manner.
For our US-based readers we have video highlights from the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya all week in our videos section. New race video clips are added every evening.