Non-stop attacking and amazingly fast racing highlighted stage 6 of the Tour of Missouri, where the riders averaged speeds of 48 km/h (29 mi/hr) on the 177 km (110 mi) roller coaster stage from Chillicothe to St Joseph. We had some hard, fast and aggressive racing out there. Attacks flew until the end but in the end, the stage once again ended in a bunch kick won by Italian Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas). Cervelo Test Team’s Thor Hushovd was second and Lucas Sebastian Haedo of the Colavita/Sutter Home was third.
“Of course, I love racing in the states. Everything’s bigger. Big open roads and everything’s wider. I love it,” said Chicchi, a former World Under-23 Road Race champion (2002) who won the final stage of the Tour of Missouri last year.
“We were going 52K (kilometers per hour) for the first part of the race. So, we were flying all day. Only at the Tour de France do you see something like this,” added the stage winner through an interpreter. The peloton averaged 29.85 miles per hour (48 km/h) for the day, making Stage 6 the fastest stage of any at the Tour of Missouri.
“Up until today really, it hasn’t been a whole lot of aggressive attacks, I think everyone was kind of waiting for the time trial and now that it’s happen, there’s two days left, who cares so they’re finally racing.” said Zabriskie.
Despite relentless attacking, no changes in the GC with David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) still in yellow. Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank) sits in second at 30 seconds down, Tom Zirbel (BISSELL) in third at 44 seconds and Marco Pinotti (Columbia-HTC) at one second from Zirbel.
“We are very strong, I think they proved that today, it was very very impressive. I think today was one of the hardest days I’ve ever had on a bike and I’m really proud to be on the team with these guys.” said Zabriskie who is one day of winning the overall at the stage race for the first time of his career.
Aggression. As soon as neutral start ended, the speed ramped up and attacks flew as everyone wanted to be in the break. For the first 75 kilometers or so, until the feedzone, move, catch, counter-move and catch again. It never stopped. Garmin-Slipstream was willing to let a break go but it had to be the right combination.
“The thing is that everyone wants to be in it [the move]. The best situation for us is if something goes.” said Zabriskie.
With non-stop attacks, the speed ramped up as the riders raced through the rolling hills of northern Missouri
“It was just a wild attack session all day long, we got it done in like 3:40, it was over 50 km/hr for the first 75 K to the feedzone and then we sat up for maybe 25 minutes and then it was game on all over again, all the way to the end.” said BISSELL’s Ben Jacques-Maynes.
Cervelo Test Team’s Jeremy Hunt managed to escape the field right before the feedzone, and taking advantage in a respite in speed as riders ate their lunch, his gap ballooned to over three minutes before being reeled in 30 kilometers later. Hunt was awarded the Drury Hotels Most Aggressive Rider jersey.
Soon after the catch, two riders Philip Gaimon (Jelly Belly) and Frederique Robert (Quick Step) made their move just before the second intermediate sprint, getting up to a 30 second gap on the field.
“It was get off the front and hope the field sits up, set up a little bit for my teammates who were resting in the field.” said Gaimon about his move. “It was an aggressive day, it was ridiculously fast. It just never stopped, the break wouldn’t go, the bad wouldn’t snap. Unbelievable.”
But the duo didn’t stand a chance with the upcoming KOM, a perfect launching pad for attacks which flew, but KOM leader Moises Aldape of Team Type 1, who was also on the hunt for more points, passed everyone to collect his bounty. Crafty Columbia-HTC’s Marco Pinotti also used the climb to set up his blistering attack.
One second. A slim one second separates third place on GC Tom Zirbel (BISSELL) from Pinotti, and BISSELL’s plan was simply ‘no time gaps’.
“You could tell Cervelo wanted a field sprint, I had heard Saxo Bank guys talking, everything for JJ so in that case, we’re going to pitch in too, make sure it’s all together, guarantee it all comes together at the same time, that’s going to be our best bet, no time gaps.” said Jacques-Maynes.
The team put three riders into the rotation, Andy Jacques-Maynes, Omer Kem and Frank Pipp, to protect Zirbel’s position.
“It was a little hectic, a little stressful, I thought maybe it would be all together for the sprint, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be all together for the second one, so we kind of lucked out as I was a little bit out of position on that first sprint, couldn’t quite close the gap – it was an uphill sprint actually – couldn’t quite close it to Pinotti and there were three guys in front of him because he was fourth over the line. And that second sprint, Ben was up there, I never realized there were two people off, here I thought I got third place in the sprint, got a second but yeah it worked out okay.” said Zirbel.
“It was a good team effort out there today.” said Jacques-Maynes.
“It was fun, no one was happy with the break up there, put a lot of pressure on Garmin. At one point, we were trying to calm it down a little bit, put some guys up there but people weren’t happy with it and it was just going back and forth, it was fun, that’s what we’ve been looking forwards to all week. ” said Zirbel.
Pinotti was caught with five kilometers to go after a spirited chase. Three more riders, Jeff Louder (BMC), Craig Lewis (Columbia-HTC) and Luis Amaran (Colavita/Sutter Home) tried their luck with solo moves but the sprinter’s teams were too strong and reeled everything back.
Experience. In last year’s edition, the Garmin-Slipstream team gained experience from defending Christian Vande Velde‘s yellow jersey.
“I think we’ve learned a lot last year, the day day where it really broke apart last year and Michael Barry won that stage. These roads, you can’t really take the front as a team and ride because there are so many rollers that the other teams will come off of the guys and slingshot on the rollers and then yo blow yourself up. So that’s why we kind of let everyone do their race. ” said Zabriskie.
One more stage until Zabriskie can claim overall victory in a stage race for the first time in his career, and he is enjoying the moment.
“It feels great, I’m on cloud nine. I’m enjoying the moment with those guys.” said the sometimes enigmatic Zabriskie. “In all seriousness, I know my emotions don’t come through so much, a lot of people say that I don’t smile enough but I’m having a great time, I really am having a great time.”
No changes in the other jerseys as Hushovd keeps the Edward Jones Sprint jersey, Dario Cataldo (QuickStep) with the 180 Energy/ Icelandic Glacial Water Best Young Rider jersey, and Aldape with the Michelob Ultra KOM jersey.
What’s next? The racing ain’t over, as the final stage is a tough one. Stage 6, presented by Cerner is a 71.4-mile (114.9 km) circuit race which begins at 2:00 p.m. in downtown Kansas City. The field of 112 competitors race 7 laps of 10.2 miles each. There are be 4 Michelob Ultra KOMs contested (Kessler Road and Summit Street) and 2 Edward Jones Sprint points awarded (at start/finish on Lap 1 and Lap 3).
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