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Giro d'Italia stage 6 - Live coverage

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Hello I'm Daniel Benson. You might remember me from such live coverages as Tour of Britain 2015 stage 4, and Tour of Qatar 2017 stage 7.

Today's stage 6 of the 2020 Giro d'Italia and we'll have complete live coverage from the race, so settle back and pretend like you're working and follow us throughout the stage.

Today's stage between Castrovillari and Matera looks perfect for  break or a reduced bunch sprint, with a sprinkling of climbs and then the long drag up to the finish. We're about 20 minutes from the official start but riders are currently warming up and signing on. 

We will start, however, with some quick news and Egan Bernal will not ride the Vuelta a Espana later this month. He's set to end his season and build back towards the 2021 campaign, where he'll likely target the Tour de France. That means that Chris Froome and Richard Carapaz will lead the Ineos squad at the third Grand Tour of this season. All the info is right here.

Ineos Grenadiers’ Egan Bernal at the 2020 Tour de France

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

In unrelated (ish) news, computer crushing doctor, Richard Freeman, the guy who was seemingly paid using British taxpayers’ money to help out Shane Sutton with his libido, has given more evidence at his hearing. Here's the latest embarrassing evidence for all of those concerned. Seriously, a screwdriver? He would have had more success putting wheels on his laptop and entering it into Robot Wars.

Here's the GC coming into today's stage:

1Joao Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 17:06:23

2 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:00:43

3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:48

4 Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:59

5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:01

6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling 0:01:05

7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:19

8 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:01:21

9 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:26

10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:32

Riders are on the startline and will be setting off on stage 6 in just a few minutes. Almeida, in the maglia rosa for another day is front and centre, while yesterday's stage winner, Ganna, is close by too.

CAMIGLIATELLO SILANO ITALY OCTOBER 07 Podium Joao Almeida of Portugal and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Pink Leader Jersey Celebration Mask Covid safety measures Mascot Flowers during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 5 a 225km stage from Mileto to Camigliatello Silano 1275m girodiitalia Giro on October 07 2020 in Camigliatello Silano Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

We leave Castrovillari with two significant climbs and the riders will be racing uphill almost from the start, so it's the perfect terrain for a break to form. The sprinters' teams are going to be under a lot of pressure to keep this all together today.

The neutralized zone is 5.7km in length and we're just coming to the end of it now. We should expect attacks from the gun as the early break tries to form on the first climb of the day.

This “transition” stage looks to be finely balanced between the breakaway specialists and the sprinters. The former will relish the day’s opening third, which is quite lumpy and should enable them to establish a decent advantage. Yet, once past the first intermediate sprint at San Severino Lucano, the trend is mainly downhill to reach the flatlands in the province of Matera, in the “arch” of Italy’s foot.

Look at the bling around Matt White's neck! He's like MR.T, 'I ain't getting in no mass breakaway.'

The peloton have reached the end of the neutralized zone and the attacks have started. Nothing has managed to get away just yet though.

The race is reporting that Brent Bookwalter was a non-starter today. He had some choice but entirely fair comments directed at RCS and the CPA after the crash on stage 4 caused by a helicopter. He himself came down in a crash on stage 2 and it's because of those injuries that he's left the race. Read what he had to say.

Finally we have some order after a flurry of early attacks and four riders have gone clear. We'll have the names and information in just one minute.

James Whelan (EF Pro Cycling), Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabu-KTM), Mattia Bais (Androni) and Filippo Zana (Bardiani) are clear and after 9km they have 3'30 over the main field. Not exactly the break we expected but it looks like they're clear for the day at this point.

Just some scenes at the finish and there's bit of wind around. That could be a factor if we have a bunch sprint. 

Situation

The four leaders have extended their advantage to 5'50 already with 168km to go, while QuickStep are on the front of the peloton and tapping out the pace for Almeida. 

Astana have a strong presence at the front of the bunch too at the moment as we see a few riders drop back to the  team cars for a fresh round of bottles as the break move their advantage out to 6'48 with 166km to go. They could be into double figures in the next few kilometers. 

Just over seven minutes now for our four leaders with 161km to go. It's 7'16 to be precise. 

Mattia Bais is riding his maiden Grand Tour here in the Giro and this is the first time the 23-year-old has been on the attack in the race. He can handle these short, punchy climbs pretty well and could be the rider to watch if this break survives to the finish. 

Marco Frapporti is the most experienced rider in the break, and at 35, he's been a constant presence in attacks and breaks over the years. This is his eighth Giro and he's yet to win a stage but he did win a stage into Glastonbury at the Tour of Britain back in 2010, ahead of Wiggins, no less. 

James Whelan is making his Grand Tour debut in the Giro and EF will be surfing on the wave of some excellent confidence after they won stage 2 in the race. Whelan put in a number of impressive rides when we were all in lockdown and racing was online but he's helping the break extend their advantage IRL right now, with the gap up to 7'42.

Marco Frapporti has been forced to stop and have a wheel change but he should be able to make it back to the rest of the break without too much effort. 

Marco Frapporti has made it back to the leaders on a short descent as we see the lead settle around 7'45. Will they manage to push on a bit more now that they're back up to four riders? 

Situation

James Whelan (EF Pro Cycling), Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabu-KTM), Mattia Bais (Androni) and Filippo Zana (Bardiani) have 7'46 over the peloton with 148km to go.

QuickStep are just holding the break at under 8 minutes and they have just one rider on the front right now,  Iljo Keisse. He's doing all the work and it's clear that the Belgian team want more sprinters' teams to contribute to the chase. This is a day for Sunweb or Bora but nothing from either team with 146km to go.

The way the peloton are riding, it's almost like  GC day, with Astana and Bahrain McLaren riding in blocks just behind Iljo Keisse.

8'17 now for our quartet as the autumnal sun beams down on the main field. 

We're approaching nine minutes for the break but there's still no real threat in terms of the stage win with 140km still to race. 

Almeida is safely riding in the middle of the QuickStep train and the mood in the bunch is pretty relaxed at the moment. They have the break under control and there's little pressure out on the road. That might change later on when a few more teams up the pace and start to chase.

In other news Tour of Flanders favourite Julian Alaphilippe has asked everyone not to call him a favourite for the Tour of Flanders. Here's the  yarn.

It begins to sink in for France’s Julian Alaphilippe at the post-race press conference that he’s become the 2020 road race world champion

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

While we also have Gent-Wevelgem coming up this weekend and Peter Cossins has sent us his race preview ahead of the cobbled classic. 

Norwegian Alexander Kristoff of UAE Team Emirates rides during the GentWevelgem In Flanders Fields cycling race 2515 km from Deinze near Gent to Wevelgem on March 31 2019 Photo by DIRK WAEM BELGA AFP Belgium OUT Photo credit should read DIRK WAEMAFP via Getty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Whelan has a mechanical and need to drop back just before we reach an intermediate sprint. That's really poor luck but he should make it back after a short chase. The leaders have 8'35 with 126km to go.

Whelan makes it back just after the sprint as we see three or four more jerseys from QuickStep move up at the front of the peloton.

All of a sudden there's a change at the front as we see Bora lead Sagan into the action. But Demare takes four points and then Sagan's leadout man finishes ahead of the former world champion. That wasn't the plan.

It looks like there was a fall back in the bunch with two Jumbo riders and Zakarin from CCC. The Russian is back on his bike and chasing but it looks like the men in yellow and black need some mechanical assistance.

After the sprint Bora sit up and Sagan looks suitably unimpressed with Bodnar and the former world champion fluffing their lines. QuickStep move back to the head of the peloton and normality is resumed once more. 

104km to go and the break still just under nine minutes clear, at 8'46. Teams will need to contribute to the chase once we dip inside the final 80-90km of racing, even with the headwind out there. 

9'20 now for the leaders so things are starting to get interesting but the peloton still hold all the cards at this point. We're racing through Senise right now, and this a really beautiful part of Italy. The maglia rosa is back in the bunch and scoffing his lunch as we see Bora settle into second place in the bunch.

Situation

97km remaining and Bora move up to the front of the peloton and begin to lead the chase. As a result the pace instantly increases. 

The efforts from Bora have reduced the lead to 8'01 so there's been an instant reaction from the main field. 91km remaining.

It's Patrick Gamper doing most of the work for the Bora bunch and he's shaved another 15 seconds off the break's advantage. 7'37 with 88km to go.

This long flat section is helping the bunch in their pursuit of the four leaders. A reminder of the riders in the break: James Whelan (EF Pro Cycling), Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabu-KTM), Mattia Bais (Androni) and Filippo Zana (Bardiani).

84km to go and the gap is at 6'51 as the break realise that it's only a matter of time before the race is all back together.

79km to go and the four leaders lose another chunk of time with the gap now under four minutes. They look like they're struggling too, even though they're still working well together and sharing the workload. The peloton has lined out though, so it's clear that the chase is on for now.

Louis Meintjes is forced to stop and get a new wheel. He'll have a tough chase on his hands as the pace is up as we approach the final 70km of the race. The lead for the break is now down to 4'51.

We're on a slight climb right now as the bunch race through the feedzone. That will give the break - potentially - the chance to arrest the  decline in their lead. It's at 4'12 with 69km to go as we see a few more riders taking on fuel.

Bora aren't relenting, however, and the gap drops to 4'03. 

The  road narrows and that means the  pace is up and the peloton line out. We could have some splits shortly.  

And there we go, about 20 riders are distanced. They're about to come back but that's a bit of a warning sign for what might lay ahead. 61km to go and the gap to the break is at 3'02 as Bora lead the peloton back into a headwind section.

Sagan is currently coming through the team cars as the pace drops slightly in the peloton and the gap holds at 2'37. We've 56km to go.

Bora are leading on this unclassified climb and they're just tapping out a pace that strings out the bunch but keeps the break where they are. They'll hold this position for another 20km or so. 55km to go with another intermediate sprint coming up.

Marco Frapporti has the best sprint and takes the intermediate sprint. Bais was second. 

It's more of a cross-headwind right now as we see the gap drop to 2'11 with 50km to go. 

Just a short reminder of the big news today, and that Egan Bernal will not race again this season. That leaves Froome and Carapaz for the Vuelta a Espana. Our exclusive is right here.

Brailsford Bernal Ineos Tour de France 2020 rest day

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The peloton are brought onto a narrow bridge and that causes the riders at the back to stop and then chase back on. Majka was caught out and was left on his own, so he's having to use his legs to work his way back towards the front. 

The easing in pace at the front of the peloton has afforded the peloton a few more seconds, and the gap is back out to 2'44 with 42km to go.

James Whelan is wishing his mother a happy birthday as the motorbike TV crew come up close to him. There won't be a win today but he's done his team - and mum - proud with his ride.

Still just two Bora riders on the front of the bunch but a number of teams will be thinking about the finish now, including Groupama, UAE and Sunweb. Groupama have Demare, UAE have Ulissi and Gaviria, and Sunweb have Matthews. There's Sagan too. But that climb near the finish could punish some of the pure sprinters.

Whelan is now in discussions with Frapporti, with the Italian clearly not happy with the EF rider's commitment. 

Almeida has his jersey unzipped and he's got a problem with his radio, it looks like. He has plenty of teammates.

A rider has ridden into the pink jersey!

Almeida pulled over to fix his radio/jersey problem and as he stopped on the right Brandon McNulty rode into the back of him. Gaviria was held up too and that looked bad. All of the riders are back on their bikes but that was a huge scare for the young race leader.

The bunch eased up to allow Almeida the chance to make it back into the peloton and he's back near the front with 34km to go. The four-man break have 2'11 on the main field.

Frapporti decides that he doesn't want company and he's gone alone with 31km to go and he's quickly established a gap. The bunch, however, are at 1'50.

The rest of the break haven't sat up and they're about to catch Frapporti. Harmony has completely gone. 'With friends like you, who needs friends?'

30km to go and the bunch are at just 1'06 at this point and it's only a matter of time before the break are reeled in. Frapporti goes again but the rest of the break latch on and now Whelan has a dig and Frapporti responds. 

And Whelan keeps the power on and now he's clear. It's his mother's birthday today so he's racing for her. But maybe he's racing for all the mums because lets face it, only a mother could love their kid in that jersey. 

Whelan still clear on this climb and he's got 20 seconds on the chasers and 1'22 on the peloton. He might take all the points in the KOM competition, with 9 available for the first rider to the summit.

2km to go for Whelan on this climb and 27.5km to go in the stage.

A few riders are being dropped on this third cat climb as we see Zan caught by the bunch. A few GC teams have moved up as we see Viviani being dropped. 

Whelan is barely in the saddle as he stands up and gains more time on the remnants of the break and then holds the bunch at 1'06. This is a great ride from the EF Pro Cycling rider.

Whelan rises from the saddle one more time and he looks to crest the top of the climb as De Gendt attacks from bunch. KOM points:

1. Whelan
2. Frapporti
3. De Gendt 

Whelan has 35 seconds with 25km to go as De Gendt is marked on the descent and then caught. 

It looked as though Viviani was the only major sprinter dropped on the climb. Hodeg too in fact.

Whelan is plugging away and giving it everything but with 20km to go he only has 12 seconds on the peloton.

The  headwind is a real issue here and it's going to be a problem in the uphill sprint too.  Whelan is about to be caught with just under 19km to go as Bora and Groupma sit on the front.

To be fair to Whelan he's still out there with 17.5km to go and he's holding onto that 7 second lead. This is a blistering pace from the EF rider on this slightly downhill section as he tucks into a TT position.

Four seconds and Whelan isn't looking back but he can probably hear the main field closing on him. 16km to go.

He's making them work for this, as the Australian keeps putting the pressure on. 15.km to go and he's still holding on.

The road rises, then descends, and now the catch is made with 13.7km to go with Bora leading the line.

Trek bring Nibali to the front as well, as they know that the finish is pretty technical before the final uphill sprint to the line.

Just a shade over 10km to go and Bora continue to set the pace for Sagan, who hasn't won a race since a stage in last year's Tour de France.

Under 10km to go and the bunch are waiting before coming off this main road and heading onto more narrow streets. 

Swift is at the back of the Ineos train and they'll be looking to set up the British national champion as we climb, gradually, towards the finish.

Sunweb move up too as they look to protect Kelderman and lead Matthews. Movistar and Bahrain are also in the mix.

There's a real fight for position at the front now as Astana come through to protect Fuglsang. 

Almost a touch of wheels for Almeida but he corrects his line and remains in contention. 

Just over 5km to go and the road is about to narrow.

Dennis and Ganna hit the front, and Tony Martin too.

Demare has FDJ coming through too as the road climbs once more.

Ganna hits the front for Swift now as Jumbo make their presence felt. 4km to go.

Off the main road, with Ganna still leading. 3.3km to go.

Ganna is still leading the bunch as we head to a critical corner.

Ineos could be setting this up for Narvaez, who is on Swift's wheel.

Sagan is near the front as Bora hit the front with 2.1.km to go.

All the GC climbers make it over this little steep climb as Fabbro continues to set the pace.

Just over 1km to go. 

Bora still on the front with 1km to go and Nibali has attacked.

He's caught  but we're about to see the sprint.

Fuglsang leads around the final corner.

Demare is well placed, Sagan as well.

Demare is fourth wheel and then  opens his sprint with a long way to go.

The Frenchman powers clear and no one can catch him. 

Arnaud Demare wins stage 6 of the Giro d'Italia.

It looks like it was Matthews who finished in a distant second place but that's Demare's second stage win of this year's Giro d'Italia.

1 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 4:54:38
2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
3 Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana Pro Team
4 Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) UAE Team Emirates
5 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Start-Up Nation
6 Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R la Mondiale
7 Mikkel Frølich Honoré (Den) Deceuninck-Quickstep
8 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
9 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bahrain McLaren
10 Jhonatan Manuel Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers


General classification

1 Joao Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 22:01:01
2 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:00:43
3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:48
4 Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:59
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:01
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling 0:01:05
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:19
8 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:01:21
9 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:26
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:32

Sagan simply didn't have the legs. The leadout wasn't that well organised but that glosses over the fact that riders were sprinting by him as the line approached. He's out of the points jersey now, with Demare set to take the lead in that competition. 

Here's a photo of the sprint finish. Those small dots in the background are the riders finishing behind Demare.

Giro dItalia 2020 103th Edition 6th stage Castrovillari Matera 188km 08102020 Arnaud Demare FRA Groupama FDJ photo Dario BelingheriBettiniPhoto2020

(Image credit: Bettini Image)

Here's what the winner had to say:

"This is amazing. It was an incredibly hard finish. I lost position but I didn’t go crazy, I got back up, followed Astana, stayed on their wheel and then I kept following them. I launched the sprint and can’t believe I won it. I said if I won the first one, there’d be more. We tried and now we’ve shaken off the pressure."

It’s magnifique to win like this. I put my arms up and I’m super happy to win this way.
It was risky and I didn't think there’d be a chance for a sprint and that Bora would control the race. At 200m I said, I'd go for it and it worked out. Thanks to team who trusted me and lead me."

You can find our report, results and photos from stage 6 of the Giro d'Italia, right here.

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