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Van Avermaet Claims Tirreno-Adriatico, Canada’s Houle 122nd – Stages 4-7 Final Results, Reports, Photos

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March 16, 2016 – After he won stages at the Vuelta a España and the Tour de France in brilliant solo efforts, Britain’s Stephen Cummings created another surprise in the same style as he rode to victory in stage 4 to Foligno. Finishing in the main peloton reduced to less than 40 riders, the Czech Republic’s Zdenek Stybar retained the lead in the overall classification.

Stephen Cummings (Gbr) Dimension Data wins Stage 4  ©  Cor Vos

After 18km of racing, Ricardo Vilela (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) escaped from the pack. They were joined 2km later by Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani CSF) and Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18). At the 22km mark, they’d carved out their maximum advantage of 6:55mins. As they were facing a strong headwind, the peloton kept them under control, the lead hovering around 3mins. Conti was the last breakaway rider to get caught with 32km to go. A small group rode away in the finale on the circuit around Foligno. Cummings was part of it along with Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky) and Matteo Montaguti (AG2R-La Mondiale). Cummings was tactically riding for Edvald Boasson Hagen but made the most of the occasion to once again claim a famous victory.

Stage winner Steven Cummings: “I didn’t look too happy after I won because I felt sorry for my room-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen. We were racing for him. He’s in great shape but hasn’t had a great victory – yet. I was sitting at the back of the breakaway group, working like a policeman just to make sure that no one was going to ride away from us. I was up there to nullify the attacks. But with 3km to go, it looked like I was given victory on a plate, so I took the opportunity and I’m very happy about that. It was excellent team work with two other riders [Boasson Hagen and Natnael Berhane] in the main group behind us. At Dimension Data, we don’t have a big leader for the overall classifications. We now have a sprinter with Mark Cavendish but, in every other stage, I enjoy the that helped me to a Tour de France stage win last year. One year ago after I got sick in February, I didn’t have the race rhythm at this point of the season but today I found it, even though it was a bit of a surprise for me”.

Stage 4 bunch sprint  ©  Cor Vos

Race leader Zdenek Stybar said: “My main focus today was to keep the jersey so it wasn’t the right moment to risk anything. When a small group went away, I was a bit nervous to lose the lead but it went well in the end. I knew that a lot of BMC riders were only at 9secs on GC. It was a bit of a gamble but I was also hoping for Tinkoff to keep the pace high for Peter Sagan. It was difficult to control the race today. Fabian Cancellara was pulling on the steep climb. He went at a good pace but we didn’t drop out so a pretty big group came together at the finishing line. We knew that Fernando Gaviria wasn’t too far behind but we couldn’t ask the rest of the peloton to slow down and wait for him. He’ll have another chance for a second stage win on Monday.”

Points classification leader Peter Sagan: “After I managed to remain with the GC contenders in the hard climb where I’ve seen Fabian Cancellara riding very strongly, I sprinted but not for the stage victory, unfortunately. There were a few riders at the front. Cycling is difficult to understand. When other riders see me in a group, they don’t want to take me to the finish line in a winning situation. But the season is long!”

King of the Mountains classification leader Cesare Benedetti said: “It was our goal to do something positive in today’s stage so I rode away for the second time this week, which enables me to take the green jersey. It pays off for all the efforts I produced, but it was a hard day of work with head wind all along. It’ll be difficult for me to win the King of the Mountains price but I’ll try to break away again – despite the pain I’ll certainly feel after my escape today”.

Stage 5 – Cancelled Due to Weather
Given the weather forecast for stage 5, Foligno-Monte San Vicino: rain – extreme temperatures – risk of snowfall above 800 metres, the parties hereto agree to cancel stage 5, as scheduled, so as to prevent any possible risk for general safety and for the health of riders.

Stage 5 last year was not cancelled, but organizers were wiser this year  ©  Cor Vos

Stage 6
Greg van Avermaet took advantage of the finale of stage 6, in which most of the favourites rode away from the peloton, to take the stage victory in a sprint finish. The Belgian out sprinted Peter Sagan in Cepagatti to take the stage win and, in doing so, took the lead in the General Classification (GC) from Zdenek Stybar with only one stage to go. These three riders are all within eight seconds of each other on GC, with Bob Jungels in fourth place and still in contention for the overall 21 seconds behind Van Avermaet.

Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team wins Stage 6  ©  Cor Vos

Six riders broke away after 16km of racing: Federico Zurlo (Lampre – Merida), Mirko Selvaggi (Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec), Valerio Agnoli (Astana Pro Team), Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani CSF) and Ricardo Vilela (CajaRural – Seguros RGA). Most of the chase work at the head of the peloton was done by Orica – Green Edge and Etixx – Quick Step. The breakaway built up to a 3’ 50” advantage over the peloton at 150km to go to ensure it was a long, tough day in the office for all riders on stage 6. With less than 150km to go, the pace intensified before the first passage over the finishing line in Cepagatti where Sagan gave it all to win the second intermediate sprint of the day.

Stage 6 action  ©  Cor Vos

Sagan’s rush formed a front group of six riders with his team-mates Daniele Bennati and Oscar Gatto, three from Etixx – Quick Step including Stybar, Matteo Trentin and stage 3 sensation Fernando Gaviria, as well as former World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski and Van Avermaet. With 15km to go, Vincenzo Nibali tried to escape from the bunch, accompanied by Jan Bakelants, but he didn’t bridge the gap and it went down to an uphill sprint finish won once again by Van Avermaet over Sagan who claimed the 69th second place of his pro career.

Stage 6 sprint  ©  Cor Vos

Greg van Avermaet: “I didn’t really expect Peter Sagan to attack. Firstly he went for the intermediate sprint but he went so strong that we got a bit of a gap. Etixx – Quick Step and Tinkoff rode together. There was only me for BMC, so I saved myself. It was my chance to be alone. We directly got 20 to 30 seconds of an advantage because it was a fast circuit so I knew it was possible to go for the finish. I knew I could win such a sprint slightly uphill. It was a stage similar to the one I won last year: I was aiming for winning a second stage win at this race so I wanted to go for this one. The parcours of Tirreno-Adriatico is always very nice. It’s a preparation for the classics but also winning here is a confidence booster. We’ll see how far I can go tomorrow. Bob Jungels is probably the favourite for a time trial like that. I had good 11th place last year. It’s only 10km long. I have never been in such a situation before and I’ll never be again. This is my only chance to win this race I’ve always liked. I hope to take this nice trophy home”.

Peter Sagan: “Before considering whether or not I launched my sprint too early, I first want to thank my team for the great work they’ve done today. We went for the time bonus, which was going to be decisive and we wanted to see who’d remain at the front after the intermediate sprint. Etixx – Quick Step and us rode together. Kwiatkowski also cooperated. Greg [van Avermaet] was undecided on swapping turns or not. Eventually he chose to keep his strength for the sprint finish. But it was Stybar who had good reasons for not riding at the front, not Greg! I launched my sprint early but I felt good and we had to go early because the main group was not far behind. My only problem was that Greg was on my wheel. I’m trying to win Tirreno-Adriatico but it’s not easy. For sure Greg is up there for the final victory against Stybar, I’m up there too but there are others as well. We’ll all go flat out and we’ll count the times at the end”.

Bob Jungels: “To be honest, I found myself in a bit of a complicated situation. We had three guys at the front. It wasn’t really clear how far ahead they were. Stybar has lost the leader’s jersey but that’s part of the game. Now I’m told that I’m “only” 21 seconds adrift but there are also “only” 10km to make it up. Sagan, Stybar and Van Avermaet can all do a good time trial. We won’t give up until the very last meter of racing for sure. Stybar still aims at winning the overall and I’m targeting the podium”.

Stage 7
Fabian Cancellara claimed his 56th victory in a time trial as he rode the fastest time in San Benedetto del Tronto for the fourth and last time in his long lasting career. He clocked the 10.1km course in 11? 08? with an impressive average speed of 54.431km/h, resulting in an advantage of 13? over French surprise Johan Le Bon who came second and Tony Martin in third and 15? off Cancellara’s blistering time.

Stage 7 winner Fabian Cancellara (Sui) Trek - Segafredo  ©  Cor Vos

The fight for the trident was extremely tight. The prestigious trophy for the overall winner went to Greg Van Avermaet who maintained less than a one second (72 cents, rounded up as per the rules) advantage over runner up Peter Sagan; Sagan had started the final stage with the aim of making up his deficit of eight-seconds. Third place was just as tight as best young rider Bob Jungels fended off the FDJ climbing duo, formed of Sébastien Reichenbach and Thibaut Pinot, with a similar advantage of just one second.

Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC wins the final GC  ©  Cor Vos

Greg van Avermaet: “Beating Sagan often means that I’m winning a lot. He has been close to winning on many occasions, so I imagine it’s a lot of frustration for him. I know how it feels… I’ve come second myself too many times. I’m sure a big victory in the World Champion’s jersey will come to him soon. Yesterday I decided to not pull in the breakaway but that’s not my usual way of racing, it was a decision due to the circumstances with my team-mates Tejay van Garderen and Damiano Caruso at the back. I’m very happy now. I never thought I’d win this race. It was once in a lifetime chance that I had could win Tirreno. It means a lot to me to have my name on the record book after Roger de Vlaeminck and all the great champions who have done it before me. Only one second is enough for me! Today, I knew it would be a hard circuit for me. I was informed of the split time that went up to 5 seconds. I tried to go as fast as I could. It was about pushing as hard as possible and I gave it all. I think I did a good time trial. It was not my best but also not my worst. I like courses with more corners. Straight roads aren’t my forte for racing alone. A lot of small things didn’t come right in the past. Now luck is on my side this year. I have the engine to be up there. I’m in for a big win in the classics also”.

Fabian Cancellara: “For sure there have been other time trials in my career that I’ll remember but besides the World Championships and the Olympic Games, this one is special. It’s my fourth and last one in San Bendetto del Tronto. I’ll keep good memories from all my time trials here. Every year it’s been a challenge, I’ve lost some of them and it helped me win others. Today’s victory brings me a positive feeling because I didn’t start the week of racing at my best. I wasn’t 100% healthy at the beginning. Stage 5 was cancelled. It was a good thing for me and in general. We didn’t have any rain, which helped me to recover. Now I can rest ahead of my last Milan-Sanremo. That will be another special one”.

Points classification winner Peter Sagan: “I’ve got mixed feelings. I should be disappointed to lose the overall classification by such a small margin but hadn’t the mountain stage been cancelled, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to race for GC. I’m more bitter about yesterday’s stage. The way Greg van Avermaet rode it is certainly not my style of racing. He says he had team-mates at the back but I also had team-mates at the back and so did Etixx – Quick Step. Moreover, I’m happy with my form. This race puts me on the right track for my coming goals”.

Best young rider Bob Jungels: “Team wise we can be satisfied with our week of racing. We would have signed for such a result: two stage wins, second in the team time trial and my first podium in a World Tour race. It’s great for myself and the team. It helps me looking forward to the next target”.

King of the Mountains Cesare Benedetti: “It’s really good for my team Bora – Argon 18 to get this price. It’s our first in a World Tour race. We’re only a Pro Continental squad. As for myself, I’m delighted with this distinctive jersey. I was a reserve on the entry form. Eventually I started and showed that my form was good, which means I’ve worked well at home. I’m glad I took the opportunity to conquer this prize”.

Most combative rider Federico Zurlo: “It’s a great pleasure to be nominated as the most combative rider, especially at a World Tour race in Italy. It comes at a time of my career I’m trying to develop as a pro racer so I want to thank the people who recognized my efforts this week.”

Stage 4 – 222km – Montalto di Castro to Foligno
1.    Stephen Cummings (Gbr) Dimension Data    6:04:49
2.    Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky    0:00:13
3.    Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension Data
4.    Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Esp) Movistar Team
5.    Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
6.    Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    0:00:16
7.    Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team    0:00:25
8.    Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
9.    Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10.    Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick-Step

108.    Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale 0:06:15

Stage 5 – 178km – Foligno to Monte San Vicino

Stage 6 – 210km – Castelraimondo to Cepagatti
1.    Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team    4:34:14
2.    Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team
3.    Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky    0:00:02
4.    Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick-Step    0:00:04
5.    Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    0:00:07
6.    Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team
7.    Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre – Merida
8.    Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9.    Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
10.    Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo

151.    Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale 0:05:41

Stage 7 – 10.1km – San Benedetto del Tronto to San Benedetto del Tronto (ITT)
1.    Fabian Cancellara (Sui) Trek-Segafredo    0:11:08
2.    Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ    0:00:13
3.    Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step    0:00:15
4.    Alex Dowsett (Gbr) Movistar Team
5.    Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff Team    0:00:17
6.    Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ    0:00:18
7.    Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data    0:00:19
8.    Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky    0:00:20
9.    Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team    0:00:22
10.    Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team    0:00:24

75.    Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale    0:00:55

Final GC
1.    Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team    20:42:22
2.    Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team    0:00:01
3.    Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step    0:00:23
4.    Sébastien Reichenbach (Sui) FDJ    0:00:24
5.    Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
6.    Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team    0:00:29
7.    Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick-Step    0:00:33
8.    Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky    0:00:39
9.    Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo    0:00:45
10.    Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff Team    0:00:48

122.    Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale    0:21:18

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