The Trek-Segafredo rider, who sprinted to his first Grand Tour stage win at the 2015 Vuelta a España and nabbed third place just a few days ago on the Giro's second stage, seemed the likely favourite to win a sprint at the end of stage 6 out of a three-man group that also included BMC's Silvan Dillier and Bora-Hansgrohe's Lukas Pöstlberger. Dillier had other plans, however, launching from 150 meters to go and narrowly holding off Stuyven to claim his first career Grand Tour stage victory.
"They always say that if you are close, it will come, but there are not that many opportunities; you have to take them when they are there," Stuyven said. "It didn't happen today, and that is actually pretty shit."
Stuyven, 25, has had a strong year so far with a runner-up ride Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, fourth place at Paris-Roubaix and seventh at Eschborn-Frankfurt, but he is still seeking his first victory of the season. Although frustrated after another close-but-no-cigar result Thursday, he praised the Swiss rider on Twitter after the stage.
"The finish was 8%, so it was pretty hard, and I know Dillier is a strong guy, so I was paying attention to him," Stuyven added after the stage. "Of course you are tired after such a long day and after a sprint, but most of all because I am really disappointed actually."
The Belgian also lauded the work of his teammate Mads Pedersen, who helped drive the breakaway to success to put Stuyven in position to battle for the win.
"When we came into the crosswind section before the feed zone, I was not so positive that we would make it. At that point, it was really hard. But I think we managed it well and Mads – he just pulled like an animal today!"
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