American Neilson Powless, in his first Tour de France, celebrated his 24th birthday with a chance at a stage win on Thursday. He got in the stage 6 eight-man breakaway and put his climbing skills on display throughout the 191km route, which ended atop Mont Aigoual.
He attacked the small group several times along both category three climbs, leading up to the summit finish, and held on for fourth place.
“There were a lot of people who wanted to get into the break [on stage 6]. Getting into the break was not easy. Neilson did a great job getting in there and that was a great bit of riding by him," said Tom Southam, sport directeur for EF Pro Cycling.
"He did a great job and there’s a few things he’ll take away from it. He’s young and that’s how you learn. It was his first chance of having a go at winning a stage at the Tour so we were primarily focused on that.”
Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) and Jesus Herrada (Cofidis Solutions Credits) broke away to take the top two spots on the stage, Lutsenko winning his first-ever Tour stage, leaving Powless to battle Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet for the final podium spot. Powless just did not have the final knockout punch, but he was happy with placement.
“I thought I had a decent shot with the guys that were in there and I think maybe I was a little bit too overzealous on the last 25 kilometers or so and maybe was just too much the aggressor on the second to last climb," the California native said. "That kind of got the better of me. In the end, I was still super proud of that ride and it was just amazing to be out in the front in the Tour de France."
On his Twitter feed, Powless said, "Best. Birthday. EVER."
Best. Birthday. EVER. https://t.co/aifYIu0Pn3September 3, 2020
Mas crashes on descent and assesses injuries
Los rastros en el costado derecho de @EnricMasNicolau tras su caída en el descenso del Cap de Coste, durante la 6ª etapa del #TDF2020, que no le ha impedido llegar con los favoritos. "Espero que sea solo 'chapa y pintura'. He pillado una piedra en la curva. Me encuentro bien". pic.twitter.com/2G5OWsXU6eSeptember 3, 2020
The first 146 kilometres of stage 6 were fast and flat on Thursday, with the peloton allowing an eight-man break to move up the road towards the second mountaintop finish in the first week of the 2020 Tour de France. During the downhill of the category 3 Cap de Coste, with less than 40km to go, Movistar's Enric Mas seemed to lock his brakes and crash in a corner.
The Spaniard got back to the peloton with help from Dario Cataldo, Nelson Oliveira and Carlos Verona. He was able to finish the stage, sustaining bruises on his right side as well as a slightly swollen wrist.
"I hope it's just 'sheet metal and paint.' I caught a stone on the corner," Mas said on Twitter.
In a statement on his team web site he added that all seemed fine. "I’ve taken my glove off now and it seems like the area is a bit swollen, but I hope it’s nothing. I rode over a stone into a turn during that descent before the penultimate climb.
"It is what it is, this is part of the Tour, setbacks can arise during a 21-day race and it was my turn this time. When it comes to my legs, all seems to be going well."
Mas was one of three Movistar riders, along with Alejandro Valverde and Marc Soler, who finished with the main bunch at the top of Mont Aigoual, 2:53 behind stage winner Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team). Mas and Valverde are 18th and 19th, respectively, on GC.
Roche takes combative rider award after instigating day-long breakaway
Fighting spirit🥊 @roche_nicholas takes home the most combative rider prize after an attacking day out in the break where he was up there fighting for another top result for the team at the #TDF2020 🇫🇷 #KeepChallenging 📸A.S.O./Pauline Ballet Team Sunweb
A photo posted by @teamsunweb on Sep 3, 2020 at 8:52am PDT
Nicolas Roche was disappointed to have finished 56th on stage 6 at the Tour de France. It was a long ride after being part of the day-long breakaway that saw his companion Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) go on to win atop the summit of Mont Aigoual.
The Sunweb rider was awarded the events’ Most Combative Rider prize for starting the move, his efforts covering most of the 191km race from the start in Le Teil to the final ascent on the Col de la Lusette.
“I’m exhausted and a bit disappointed,” said Roche at the finish. “I think I had done pretty well most of the day, but unfortunately the change of rhythm on the steep ramps of the first category climb completely killed me.”
Roche formed part of a decisive breakaway that included Avermaet, who started the day only 3:17 down on GC, as well as Lutsenko, Jesus Herrada (Cofidis Solutions Credits), Neilson Powless (EF Pro Cycling), Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT Pro Cycling), Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe), and Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep).
Roche took KOM points at the top of the first categorised climbs, the Cap de Coste and the Col des Mourã. He lost contact with the breakaway on the steep slopes of the Col de la Lusette, the final category 1 climb leading to Mont Aigoual. His breakaway companion Lutsenko went onto win the stage solo ahead of Herrada and Van Avermaet, and Powless finished fourth.
“I wanted to be in the breakaway on this stage,” Roche said. “I knew that today there was a chance it arrived at the finish, and it did, but unfortunately I wasn’t strong enough to follow the top guys on the second last climb. I wasn’t surprised by the steep ramps because we had studied it really well over the last few days.
“Today is a day that I had a tick beside; that’s also why I lost time purposely yesterday in the last 10 kilometres, to get a bit of a gap for today. Sometimes you know about it but the legs just don’t go with it. I’ll take a stage or so to recover but hopefully over the next few weeks I’d like to be able to give it a go again.”
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