After the sprint victory in Benevento on Wednesday for Andre Greipel, Lotto-Soudal claimed their second straight triumph in the Giro d'Italia on Thursday's stage 6 with Tim Wellens. He attacked 15 kilometres from the summit for a gutsy lone win at Roccaraso.
Second at Monte Cassino in the 2014 Giro d'Italia behind Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), on a similar, draggy, final climb a little further south, Wellens was able to go one better on the stage 6 climb. He claimed his first victory in Paris-Nice on the mountainous final stage this March, and now has secured his first Grand Tour stage win.
Wellens revealed afterwards that he had tried to attack early on but had not made it into the break told the press, "when that happened I thought it was all over."
However, some timely advice from overall leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) around 60 kilometres from the finish had spurred him to make a second move, this time in the company of teammate Pim Ligthart and Trek-Segafredo’s Laurent Didier.
The trio quickly caught earlier attackers Alessandro Bisolti (Nippo - Vini Fantini) and Eugert Zhupa (Wilier Trestina-Southeast), and then Wellens went clear on the final climb.
Speaking later, Wellens thanked Ligthart for working so hard for him in the last part of the stage.
"We were riding very well together, and we were lucky because there was no real organisation in the peloton behind. Then by the bottom of the last climb we had a big advantage thanks to Pim. I wasn't sure if I was the strongest, but when I started to feel I was the best, I attacked and rode full gas to the top."
Wellens revealed that he had been advised to try to bridge across to the early break by none other than race leader Tom Dumoulin, with whom he had made friends when they travelled to a criterium in Curacao last autumn.
"That's why we know each other and I hope he makes it to Turin in pink," Wellens said. "It's not often that a race leader gives me advice, because I don't often know them very well, but given how well it worked out this time, if it happens again I think I will take it!"
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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