Dillier wins stage six after 200km breakaway as Jungels stays in pink – Giro d’Italia

Giro d’Italia 2017

Stage 6

Swizerland’s Silvan Dillier outsprinted fellow escapee Jasper Stuyven of Belgium to claim a maiden Giro d’Italia stage win after an intriguing day of racing in south-west Italy.

A three-way uphill tussle at the conclusion of the 217km sixth stage from Reggio Calabria saw BMC’s Dillier, 26, defy a stinging double-digit gradient to hold off Trek-Segafredo’s Stuyven and take the biggest win of his career.

Austria’s Lukas Postlberger – the winner of last week’s opening stage for Bora-Hansgrohe – crossed the line in Terme Luigiane for third place, 12 seconds in arrears.

Italy’s Simone Andreetta of Bardiani CSF – who was also in the day’s main break – just held on for fourth place ahead of the peloton, which was brought home 39 seconds down on Dillier by Canada’s Michael Woods of Cannondale-Drapac.

Luxembourg national champion Bob Jungels, the maglia rosa from Quick-Step Floors, finished comfortably in the top ten to retain his six-second lead over Welshman Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) in the general classification.

Stuyven – who slammed the handlebars in frustration after failing to reel in Dillier – may have missed out on the win, but the Belgian moved within three points of Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) in the battle for the maglia ciclamino.

After a frantic opening to the stage in the toe of Italy, a five-man break eventually formed featuring Dillier, Stuyven and his Trek-Segafredo team-mate Mads Pedersen, Andreetta and Postlberger. Working their way up the metatarsal, the leaders opened up a maximum gap of eight minutes as the frustrated Cannondale-Drapac and Wilier-Selle Italia teams combined on the front of the pack in a bid to reduce the arrears.

The peloton rides through the small village of Scilla during stage six.

Stuyven picked up maximum points at both intermediate sprints as the race headed inland for a brief foray away from the sea. Behind, teams jostled for position as the peloton headed back towards the Calabrian coast and the expected crosswinds.

But the blustery conditions that had been earlier reported never materialised, and instead those hoping of contesting the short but uphill finish were left non-plussed as the five leaders maintained a gap of four minutes with 25km remaining.

Pedersen was dropped on the Cat.4 Fuscaldo climb but gamely fought back on. But it was to be the young Dane who first succumbed to the inevitable, Pedersen dropped on a short climb outside Terme Luigiane before being swept up by the pack inside the final 5km.

When Stuyven attacked near the summit, Andreetta was also distanced, leaving three riders to negotiate the tight stack of hairpin bends ahead of the final ramp to the finish. With the peloton still trailing by the best part of two minutes, the leaders had the luxury of being able to play out a slow cat-and-mouse-style approach to the line – although the 10% gradient off the back of 200-odd kilometres out ahead no doubt contributed to their forgivable sluggishness.

Dillier launched his move inside the final 100 metres – and while Postlberger popped, Stuyven looked to be able to match the Swiss’ acceleration. But Dillier proved the strongest and won by half a bike length – becoming the first Swiss rider to win a stage on the Giro in seven years.

Cannondale’s frustration was compounded after their protected rider for the day – the Canadian Woods – did as expected and won the sprint between the main favourites for a fifth place that the American team (now without a WorldTour win in almost two years) will regret was not first.

Britain’s Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) finished sixth to retain his third place behind Jungels and Thomas on GC, while all the other main favourites – including defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Medira) and 2014 winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) – came home on cue to stay within 10 seconds of Jungels and the race summit.

The largely flat 224km stage seven from Castrovillari to Alberobello features just the one categorised climb and should conclude with a bunch sprint set against the breaktaking backdrop of Puglia’s famous trulli – the world-renowned white-washed triangular buildings of the Itria valley.

Stage six results

1 Silvan Dillier (Switzerland/BMC Racing) 4:58.01 2 Jasper Stuyven (Belgium/Trek) ST 3 Lukas Poestlberger (Austria/BORA) +12sec 4 Simone Andreetta (Italy/Bardiani Valvole) +26sec 5 Michael Woods (Canada/Cannondale) +39sec 6 Adam Yates (Great Britain/Orica) 7 Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands/Sunweb) 8 Bob Jungels (Luxembourg/Quick-Step) 9 Bauke Mollema (Netherlands/Trek) 10 Geraint Thomas (Great Britain/Team Sky)

General classification

1 Bob Jungels (Luxembourg/Quick-Step) 28:20.47sec 2 Geraint Thomas (Great Britain/Team Sky) +6sec 3 Adam Yates (Great Britain/Orica) +10sec 4 Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Bahrain) +10sec 5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Italy/AG2R) +10sec 6 Nairo Quintana (Colombia/Movistar) +10sec 7 Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands/Sunweb) +10sec 8 Bauke Mollema (Netherlands/Trek) +10sec 9 Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) +10sec 10 Andrey Amador (Costa Rica/Movistar) +10sec

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