Giro d’Italia 2016: Stage 6 – Wellens rocks the Roccaraso

Tim Wellens made it two wins in two days for Lotto-Soudal, powering away from his breakaway companions at the foot of Roccaraso to take a brilliant solo win. The first mountain top finish saw the GC shaken further with Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) attacking to finish second and third. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) put to bed his assertion that he’s only riding for time trial wins by riding aggressively to finish fourth – not only retaining the maglia rosa but adding more seconds to his lead.

Rider of the Race

My rider of the stage is the indefatigable Tim Wellens. Never one to miss a breakaway opportunity, this back-to-back winner of the Eneco Tour (2014 and 2015) finally got his first grand tour victory. Having told the team in the morning that he was feeling good, he was disappointed not to make the break of the day. However, with the two remaining riders out in front not making too much headway and with the blessing of the maglia rosa he bridged across with teammate Pim Ligthart and Trek-Segafredo’s Laurent Didier. They built up an unassailable lead, and from the moment Tim rode clear on the final climb, I never doubted he would get there. It was an absolute joy to see him cross the line with enough energy to hold his bike aloft.

“Tom said ‘Tim, it’s a moment to jump – we won’t ride’. Then we bridged, we rode very well and I was the strongest on the final climb, so I’m very happy. I had a lot of pressure, because I said before the Giro that my objective was to win a stage, and I’m happy I did it.”

Nerves of steel

As any fan will know, it’s not easy to watch a firm favourite take on a race. You want so much for it all to go right, for the happiness at the finish, but alongside that is the knowledge of every scenario that can go wrong. The nerves started to kick in when Jakob Fuglsang announced, with a wry smile, that he was aiming for a podium place alongside team captain Vincenzo Nibali at the start of his very first Giro. The pronouncement this morning that the plan was for the Dane to attack first and for the Shark to join him ratcheted my anxiety up to ‘red alert’ levels. It’s not like him to be so outspokenly confident in the press. It’s not like him to be quite so confident in his own abilities on the road either. I’m not used to it!

Embed from Getty Images

Jakob Fuglsang second on the stage and second overall. Fuglsang translates as birdsong in Danish, hence the nickname.

I spent the early part of the stage resolutely determined I couldn’t possibly watch, which of course was a fool’s errand. All of the 18km climb was tackled by alternately watching, not watching, pacing and shouting. There may have been the odd swear word at certain points. There were certainly yells of  kom så [come on – Ed] the only bit of Danish I can actually speak. I squeaked when the attack came, then instantly started worrying about the finish as I remembered this from the Danish site TV2 (via the medium of Google Translate)…

Fuglsang has surely been among the worst finishers in the field. As he himself said yesterday, there’s been joke that if he comes to the goal in a group of three, he will be number four because the motorcycle will overtake him

But this time Birdsong had it all supremely under control. He gritted his teeth and took on the sprint for second like a boss. He didn’t finish last in his group, he finished first! I know this just adds to his list of second places in Grand Tour stages, and I’m completely overlooking that this may not have been Team Astana’s greatest moment. I simply do not care, because for once I got to cheer a Dane home when it counted and sometimes that’s all that matters. Now I’m used to it, I wouldn’t mind doing it all over again actually #KomNuJakob

Just one small thing though, it’s pronounced like this. Everyone repeat after me …

He’s back on Twitter

It’s brilliant having the Eurosport Extra team back with us for the Giro, but there has been one thing missing. While Ashley House and Laura Mesaguer tweet up a storm, Juan Antonio has been very quiet on the social media front. But we have good news, #Flecha has a new twitter account and he’s already posting pictures. Give him a follow on @FlechaExtra

We’re hoping he doesn’t post anything quite as weird as this …

Stage results

1. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) 4:40:05

2. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) +1:19

3. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) same time

4. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) +1:22

5. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension Data) +1:24

GC standings

1. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) 24.22:15

2. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) +0:26

3. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) +0:28

4. Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quick Step) +0.35

5. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +0.38

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey: Tom Dumoulin (Giant Alpecin)

Point’s jersey: Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep)

KOM jersey: Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini)

Best young rider: Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quick Step)

For full review of the stage, go to CyclingNews

Header image: ©Getty Images

4 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia 2016: Stage 6 – Wellens rocks the Roccaraso

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