Aggressive tactics paid off for Astana on stage 6 of the Eneco Tour with Andrei Grivko moving up to third overall. The Ukraine rider finished 11th on the stage, 12 seconds down on winner David Lopez (Team Sky). Tom Dumoulin (Team Argos-Shimano) leads the race with Sunday’s final crucial stage to come and Grivko 24 seconds in arrears.
Heading into the stage Grivko sat in seventh overall after a solid ride in Friday’s individual time trial. However stage 6 saw Astana go on the offensive. On a testing course that saw three ascents of La Redoute the Kazakh team set the pace in the final 40 kilometres. It was enough to drop race leader Lars Boom (Belkin) and reel in the majority of the day’s early break.
Grivko, teammate Maxim Iglinskiy and Dumoulin then rode across to a dangerous counter attack, a move that essentially changed the outcome of the overall standings.
"It's no secret we wanted to win today, and with the break as large as it was with so much of a gap, when it came time to chase them down we went for it. There was a big crash just then, but it was at the point in time where the race was on, and if we chose to wait around for everyone to recover we weren't going to see anybody get pulled back," team sports director Dmitri Sedoun said.
Iglinskiy’s position was sacrificed as he worked for Grivko inside the final 10 kilometres.
"We chased back in, but if you looked behind you saw a lot of very good riders waiting to make the last climb. In the end we did not win the stage, but we did move up from 7th to 3rd in GC, and Sunday is probably going to be even harder," Sedoun said.
Despite Grivko’s improved position in GC the team will have to compete in Sunday’s stage without the services of Ruslan Tleubayev, who abandoned the race due to the injuries he sustained in a crash on stage 4.
"Ruslan had deep injuries in his legs and back, and overnight he developed a high temperature. For his best recovery options we will send him home to get ready for another block of racing," Sedoun said.