Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse on Thursday.
Trentin’s teammate Tony Martin, who retained his overall race lead, led out Trentin in the final 1.5 kilometers of the 184km stage from Büren an der Aare to Delémont. When Martin peeled off with about 200 meters left, Trentin exploded ahead and fended off his chargers.
Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) was a close second in the final sprint, while Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) placed third.
Martin holds a 6-second lead over Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) and a 10-second advantage over Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
The end of the race actually began on the descent of the Cat. 3 Le Rond-Pré, a climb Sagan reached before everyone else. The riders then plummeted down the fast and twisty descent, letting gravity take them down the mountain. Just under 12km of road remained between the summit and the finish line.
Martin quickly jumped ahead at the start of the descent, but Sagan moved to the front soon after and began flying down the road. He was sitting on his top tube and his hands were in the drops, his weight shifted to the front of the bike to increase his speed — which reached 75 kph at one point. TV motorbikes were having a hard time keeping up with Sagan and also getting out of his way.
At the base of the descent, a small group of five riders came together at the front of the race with 5km of flat road left. Among them was Martin, who assumed the driver’s seat with about 1.5km to go. The three-time defending world time trial champion pushed the pace hard as he tried to further distance the group from the main pack, which was just seconds behind.
At the 1km mark, Martin was still at the front. Trentin, Bennati, Gavazzi, Sagan, and others were also in the group.
Around the 200-meter sign, Martin pulled off to the right and allowed Trentin to begin his finishing kick. The Italian surged ahead, narrowly edging Bennati at the finish. Sagan took fifth.
“Of course I am super happy about this victory,” Trentin said. “It’s funny that I almost lost the possibility to be there in the final, at about 35 kilometers to go. There was road work and I was a little bit in the rear of the peloton. The road went from double lane to single lane when the first part of the peloton passed that area. I was stuck in the back and had to put my feet down when the pace came to a stop. So, I had to chase the group ahead after that situation. When I reached them again at the bottom of the second to last climb I was always trying to recover. Then on the final climb I was in front of the group again and I helped Tony. I was always with him on the downhill.
“But at four kilometers to go, Tony looked at me and said ‘OK, we do the sprint.’ It was a question of one-second time difference, so we knew the yellow jersey was safe at that point and we went. Tony did an unbelievable job. He split the peloton into two groups in the last kilometers, in the middle of village. When he does a pull like that it is unbelievable the engine he has. He left me at 200 meters to go. The finish was slightly uphill. I accelerated and was able to do a good sprint. I like this kind of sprint. But of course I want to share this victory with the team and Tony who did a selfless, great job. I’m also happy because of all the work I did after the Amgen Tour of California, at Lake Tahoe. I spent some weeks there at an altitude training camp. It was a great experience and there and I trained well. Now the work is paying off.”
The race resumes with Friday’s stage 7, a 24.7km time trial in Worb.