The breakaway got the better of the peloton on Monday, in stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico. Mads Würtz Schmidt took the win at the finish as Stefan Küng and Kevin Geniets both gave it a go in the final part of the race. The European time trial champion then got the opportunity to test his legs on the eve of the final time trial, in which the team actually performed quite well last year.

After quite an epic and demanding day of racing yesterday, the bunch was set to face a hilly stage on Monday. The outcome was however unpredictable. “We knew it could finish with a sprint, but we still wanted to be up there if a large group got out in the first kilometers,” explained Sébastien Joly. After 30 minutes averaging 55k/h, a few riders actually managed to make a gap but there was no one from the team. “We rather thought that the good move would get away in the first climb (at km 28, editor’s note)”, added Sébastien. It went a little earlier with six riders. Then, since the stage was hilly and there was a lot of fatigue from yesterday, they managed to make it to the finish. It’s a bit of a shame for us because the guys were really motivated”.

“They needed to do some work”, Sébastien Joly

In front, Simone Velasco (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Jan Bakelants (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Start-Up Nation), Brent Van Moer (Lotto-Soudal), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) and Emils Liepins (Trek-Segafredo) earned a six-minute gap at best. Various sprinters’ teams then tried to lead the chase in the back but it did not work out as they hoped. Eventually, the breakaway won its fight against the peloton already from the second of the four laps around Lido di Fermo. Still, Groupama-FDJ aimed to do something in the back. Stefan Küng attacked with two laps to go and his teammate Kevin Geniets did the same in the last lap. “If the breakaway would have been caught, we had planned to attempt something to avoid a bunch sprint,” confided Sébastien. “The guys did it anyway, even if it was only for seventh place. I think they also needed to do some work. Also, Tirreno ends tomorrow, so we could afford to spend a little bit of energy. I guess Stefan wanted to test his legs ahead of the time trial”.

The Swiss and Luxembourg champions never got a clear gap on the peloton, and therefore were reeled in after a few minutes of effort. In the front of the race, Mads Würtz Schmidt sprinted to the win from the breakaway. One minute later, Valentin Madouas crossed the line in 21st position as Rudy Molard still sits in 16th place on GC. On Tuesday, the team will have several cards to play in the usual closing time trial of San Benedetto del Tronto (10.1 km). Last year Tobias Ludvigsson and Benjamin Thomas took 5th and 6th places respectively. “We have ambitions for this time trial”, said Sébastien. “With Stefan, Benjamin and Tobias, we have three good specialists. We hope to have a good stage and get a top-5, or even better”.

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