After three stages for the general classification contenders, Tirreno-Adriatico returned to a sprinters’ terrain on Saturday and the Belgian champion Tim Merlier won the bunch sprint at the finish. Bruno Armirail punctured with one kilometre to go but was obviously given the winner’s time. He retains his 18th place overall before a very hilly stage on Sunday.
Despite a completely flat second part of the stage towards Senigallia, a breakaway did indeed try its luck against the sprinters teams on stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico. Five men got away in the opening minutes but never enjoyed more than a three-minute advantage as the peloton was determined to favour a massive sprint today. Although the racing scenario was quite classical, a lot happened in the start of the stage. “There was some action in the cars for the first 80 kilometers,” said Jussi Veikkanen. “We were riding on very bad roads and there were holes and gravel everywhere. We had to stop quite often for our riders, but it happened to all the teams. When we got to the final circuit, there was also a fairly strong wind and that made the peloton very nervous. Eventually, it was still quite dynamic today”.
“Bruno was well-protected by all our riders”, Jussi Veikkanen
The breakaway held out against the bunch until the last ten kilometers, and the anticipated massive sprint could then set up. “Our goal was for Bruno not to waste time today,” Jussi said. “He was well-protected by all of our riders until the last kilometers, they did a great job. Then, as it was apparently the stage’s theme, Bruno suffered a puncture with one kilometre to go… ”A puncture without consequence nevertheless for the Frenchman, since the three-kilometre rule obviously applied on Saturday. He was therefore credited with the same time as the winner, Tim Merlier. With two stages to go, Bruno Armirail stays 18th overall. “Tomorrow is the last hilly stage, and we’ve already done this final circuit on Tirreno, but in the other way,” Jussi said. “It’s a very tiring circuit and we hope that everything will go well for Bruno”.