Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 6: Kwiatkowski in White Again After Brutal Climbing Stage
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Michal Kwiatkowski managed to battle through a brutal Stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico where riders abandoned throughout, and many were zig zagging or even putting their foot down, on a seemingly endless series of steep climbs in 209km on Monday.
Tony Martin, Martin Velits, and Zdenek Stybar did ther work of the day by keeping Kwiatkowski in a front group that continued to shatter with every ascent. Kwiatkowski, in the White Jersey for Best Young Rider, kept fighting and finished in a select group with riders such as Chris Froome (Team Sky Pro Cycling) and Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing Team). They were 50 seconds back from the trio that decided the finish: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Peter Sagan (Cannondale), and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha).
Sagan won the stage as the three riders gained a significant gap on technical, fast descents on wet roads within the final 30km. Nibali was 2nd, and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) was 3rd. Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Mauro Santambrogio (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Chris Horner (Radioshack-Leopard) were in a chase group that finished 44" back.
One of the most notable climbs was the KOM at Sant'Elpidio a Mare: Strada Cocciari, which is 365m in length. The final 300m averages 18 percent, and while the max ramp officially lists at 27%, a sign on course stated the gradient was 30 percent. The peloton climbed this section three times.
OPQS riders Mark Cavendish, Niki Terpstra, and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck were three of many in the peloton who abandoned the race.
"It was a long day, and also cold," Kwiatkowski said. "I managed to always stay in the front. I knew in the last climb, the steepest one, it was not so easy for me to stay with the best. But I did all I could and I really didn't lose much time. After the climb, I was fortunately in a little group who took turns and worked together. We were able to basically catch the group in front of us, which was really important for me to try and limit the time between me and guys like Contador and Horner, as we are close in the GC. Now I am in a good position. The podium is maybe possible, but I really want to enjoy this moment with my teammates. They were fantastic today — especially Velits, Stybar, and Tony. They did a great job. They kept me covered all day, we were always in the front. They went up and down in the peloton to bring rain jackets, gloves, and everything. When you have a team like that, you have to try to do your best for them. I am very happy. Tomorrow there is only a 9.2km time trial. I hope it won't rain, but here you never know as there has been rain often up to this point. I will try to give it my all and we will see the result. Most importantly, we must finish this race without regret."