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Giro d'Italia: Wellens wins on summit finish to Roccaraso

Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) claimed the first Grand Tour stage of his career on stage 6 of the Giro d'Italia, a day when the race's first summit finish drew the overall favourites into direct battle and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) belied his own insistence that he's not interested in the general classification.

Wellens took advantage of a moment of calm after a brief storm in the bunch to get himself up to the breakaway halfway through the 157km journey from Ponte to Roccaraso, where such names as Fausto Coppi, Bernard Hinault, and Moreno Argentin have celebrated in the past. 

The Belgian made his move on the early slopes of the 17km final climb, countering an attack from Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo) – who was also part of the bridge to the break – before tucking his arms over his handelbars as if the long second-category ascent were a time trial.

"I wanted to go from the beginning but I didn't succeed. Then they [the break] didn't go very fast, and we could come back with Pim Ligthart, who had the idea to jump to the front," said Wellens, who also revealed race leader Dumoulin had encouraged him to attack, content to let the break contest stage honours.

"Tom said 'Tim, it's a moment to jump – we won't ride'. Then we bridged, we rode very well and I was the strongest on the final climb, so I'm very happy. I had a lot of pressure, because I said before the Giro that my objective was to win a stage, and I'm happy I did it."

The 24-year-old was over a minute clear by the time he crossed the line and lifted his bike above his head, by which point shots were being fired among the overall contenders. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) came home second and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) third, but it was Dumoulin, a couple of seconds behind in fourth, who could be most pleased with his day's work.

The Dutchman has always insisted he's only here for the time trials, but that didn't tally with the aggression shown as he countered an attack from Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), before opening up a sizeable gap to extend his overall lead by several seconds over most of the race favourites. Only Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Zakarin could react to the move, and they soon caught early attackers Jakob Fulgsang (Astana) and Kanstantin Siutsou (Dimension Data) before going for the line. 

Fuglsang collected six bonus seconds and moved up to second on GC, but it was scant consolation for a disappointing day for the Astana team and its leader. The light blue jerseys had set a fearsome pace on the climb, and Fuglsang's early attack forced the other teams onto the front foot before Nibali's follow-up 3km from the finish. The 2013 champion, however, lacked conviction and, as he eased up in anticipation of being caught, Dumoulin sprung his surprise.

Nibali couldn't react, nor could he stay with the likes of Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) and Steven Kruiswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) as the fragmented main group sprinted for the line several seconds behind that front group. Mikel Landa (Team Sky), who seemed to struggle on stage 4, finished with Nibali and so too lost a small chunk of time. 

In the end, Nibali and Landa lost 23 seconds to Dumoulin, who now leads the race by 26 seconds from Fuglsang, with Zakarin third a couple of seconds back. Though he dropped from second to fourth, Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) put in another impressive display to keep himself in the white jersey and in contention overall.

More on this story:
Giro d'Italia stage 6: Finish line quotes
Giro d'Italia stage 6 highlights – Video

Giro d'Italia Stage 6 Highlights Video

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How it happened

The riders emerged from their team buses this morning to heavy rain in Ponte, and full wet weather gear was the choice for the majority.

Despite the miserable conditions, there was no shortage of candidates putting themselves forward to spend the day out front in the break, and it was a frantic start to the day before an escape was allowed to settle. When it did, it contained three riders – Alessandro Bisolti (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Eugert Zhupa (Wilier Trestina-Southeast) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Gazprom-Rusvelo) – and their lead quickly rocketed as the peloton eased up.

Kolobnev, the 38-year-old former Katusha rider took maximum points at the first intermediate sprint as the road started to pitch uphill, in anticipation of the first major test of the day – the second-category Bocca di Selva climb.

The lead maxed out at seven minutes on the climb, and Bisolti led them over it, with his teammate and mountains classification leader Damiano Cunego picking up the remaining KOM points from the bunch to all-but ensure he'd stay in blue tomorrow.

Dumoulin's Giant-Alpecin teammates controlled the pace in the bunch on the climb and, though there was no real action on the way up, the race sprang into life on the technical descent, where the rain was falling. The gap to the breakaway absolutely plummeted, down to just over one minute, while gaps appeared in the bunch, with Ryder Hesjedal briefly caught behind.

Things started to calm down once back on the flat but the break broke up, with Kolobnev drifting back to the bunch to leave Zhupa and Bisolti – who was briefly dropped – to plough on alone. Three riders then took advantage of the calm in the bunch to skip away in pursuit of the leaders. They were Lotto Soudal's Pim Ligthart and Tim Wellens, along with Laurent Didier (Trek Segafredo), and after 10km they made the catch, by which time the lead stood at five minutes.

The teams in the bunch then faced a decision – chase down the break ahead of the final climb, or allow them to contest the stage honours? Lampre-Merida looked keen on chasing and hit the front en masse in a clear indication that Diego Ulissi fancied a second stage win, but they didn't stay there for long and, with none of the breakaway riders a threat on GC, Giant were more than happy not to chase.

The leading quintet could start to get excited, but Orica-GreenEdge started to apply some pressure, and Lampre then came back, meaning that the leaders reached Castel di Sangro, the start point of the final climb, with a lead of 6:30 – things hanging in the balance.

The final climb

Just over a kilometre in, Ligthart, who had towed Wellens for many kilometres pulled off – his work done. The first attack soon came from Didier and, having left it to the others to reel him in, the canny Wellens made his move. He soon opened up a considerable lead as he tucked his arms over his handlebars, riding as if it were a time trial, Didier fading into the distance.

Back in the bunch, it was Astana who resurrected memories of last year's race by setting a fearsome pace which saw many, including Cunego, shelled out of the back. They played their first tactical card through Jakob Fuglsang, who, at just 35 seconds off the race lead, attacked and forced Giant-Alpecin into action. Kanstantin Siutsou (Dimension Data) was next to skip away and he soon joined up with Fuglsang, the pair with 30-40 seconds for a number of kilometres.

Movistar then took it up, with GC men positioning themselves and just biding their time as they looked at each other to see who'd make the first real move, while the remnants of the break were finally swallowed up.

Wellens' lead was diminishing with every pedal stroke but he had given himself a big enough buffer to make it clear that victory was his going into the final few kilometres.

As expected, the first big move came from Nibali with around 3.5km to go. The Italian, however, was soon brought back by Team Sky and, as he eased slightly, Dumoulin took full advantage to spring a surprise with a big attack.

Pozzovivo was first to react and soon there was a trio with Zakarin. They soon caught Fuglsang and Siutsou and, with a clear margin over the main group behind, thoughts turned to the bonus seconds. Fuglsang grabbed the six seconds for second place, while Zakarin bagged the remaining four, with Dumoulin coming across just a couple of seconds down but with his overall lead bolstered.

Chaves was five seconds back, Uran and Majka nine seconds, Valverde and Kruiswijk 12 seconds, and Jungels 17, just ahead of Nibali and Landa. Small gaps, maybe, but a significant scrap in terms of the overall complexion, with the man who says he's only here for the time trials dealing the biggest blow.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal4:40:05
2Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team0:01:19
3Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha
4Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:01:22
5Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data0:01:24
6Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
7Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge0:01:29
8Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:01:33
9Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team
10Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team0:01:36
11Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
12Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo0:01:39
13Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step0:01:41
14Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Team Sky0:01:43
15Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Trek-Segafredo
16Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension Data
17Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
18Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
19Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - Merida
20Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team
21Rein Taaramae (Est) Team Katusha
22Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
23Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling
24Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky0:01:51
25Carlos Verona (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step0:01:57
26Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani CSF
27Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky0:02:00
28Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step0:02:12
29David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step0:02:16
30Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal
31Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
32Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team
33Francesco Manuel Bongiorno (Ita) Bardiani CSF
34Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSF0:02:28
35Andre Cardoso (Por) Cannondale Pro Cycling
36Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team0:02:48
37Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Tinkoff Team0:02:52
38Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team0:02:58
39Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
40Ivan Rovny (Rus) Tinkoff Team
41Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling0:03:30
42David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team Sky0:03:36
43Sebastian Henao (Col) Team Sky0:03:37
44Egor Silin (Rus) Team Katusha0:03:51
45Damien Howson (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
46Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-Alpecin
47Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data
48Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini0:04:03
49Nathan Brown (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling
50Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Team Katusha0:04:10
51Davide Malacarne (Ita) Astana Pro Team
52Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff Team
53Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre - Merida0:04:12
54Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo
55Ruben Plaza (Spa) Orica-GreenEdge
56Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:04:23
57Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team0:04:43
58Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:04:47
59Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre - Merida
60Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
61Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:05:24
62Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek-Segafredo0:05:44
63Axel Domont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:05:49
64Alexander Foliforov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
65Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky
66Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Giant-Alpecin0:06:39
67Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff Team
68José Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team0:06:45
69Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Wilier Triestina-Southeast0:06:53
70Matteo Busato (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Southeast
71Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini0:10:39
72Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
73Manuel Senni (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:12:26
74Cristian Rodriguez (Spa) Wilier Triestina-Southeast0:12:33
75Jesus Hernandez (Spa) Tinkoff Team
76Chad Haga (USA) Team Giant-Alpecin0:12:44
77Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team0:12:58
78Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
79Amets Txurruka (Spa) Orica-GreenEdge
80Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
81Stefan Kueng (Swi) BMC Racing Team
82Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
83Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale Pro Cycling
84Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale
85Philip Deignan (Irl) Team Sky
86Maxim Belkov (Rus) Team Katusha
87Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - Merida0:15:05
88Simone Petilli (Ita) Lampre - Merida
89Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team
90Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data
91Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff Team
92Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal
93Martijn Keizer (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
94Iuri Filosi (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini
95Songezo Jim (RSA) Dimension Data
96Rory Sutherland (Aus) Movistar Team
97Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Team Katusha
98Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre - Merida
99Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Soudal0:17:27
100Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step0:17:30
101Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Southeast
102Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
103Marco Coledan (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
104Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step
105André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
106Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling
107Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ
108Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky
109Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani CSF
110Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team
111Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ
112Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF
113Eugenio Alafaci (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
114Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
115Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
116Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team
117Johann Van Zyl (RSA) Dimension Data
118Patrick Gretsch (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
119Twan Castelijns (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
120Giacomo Berlato (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini
121Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
122Leigh Howard (Aus) IAM Cycling
123Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step
124Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff Team
125Lawrence Warbasse (USA) IAM Cycling
126Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
127Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek-Segafredo
128Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
129Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ
130Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step
131Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha
132Grega Bole (Slo) Nippo - Vini Fantini
133Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge
134Alexander Serov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
135Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data
136Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff Team
137Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
138Aleksey Rybalkin (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
139Olivier Le Gac (Fra) FDJ
140Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
141Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
142Julen Amezqueta (Spa) Wilier Triestina-Southeast
143Anton Vorobyev (Rus) Team Katusha
144Andrei Solomennikov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
145Joseph Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team
146Eduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo - Vini Fantini
147Gianfranco Zilioli (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini
148Eros Capecchi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
149Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal
150Artem Ovechkin (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
151Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal
152Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha
153Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale Pro Cycling
154Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) FDJ
155Manuel Belletti (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Southeast
156Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
157Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data
158Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
159Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
160Daniel Martínez (Col) Wilier Triestina-Southeast
161Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ
162Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) IAM Cycling
163Sam Bewley (NZl) Orica-GreenEdge
164Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSF
165Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
166Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
167Matej Mohoric (Slo) Lampre - Merida
168Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-GreenEdge
169Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
170Simone Andreetta (Ita) Bardiani CSF
171Genki Yamamoto (Jpn) Nippo - Vini Fantini
172Ilia Koshevoy (Blr) Lampre - Merida
173Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
174Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
175Liam Bertazzo (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Southeast
176Ivan Savitskiy (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
177Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
178Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team
179Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre - Merida
180Riccardo Stacchiotti (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini0:19:25
181Marc Sarreau (Fra) FDJ
182Jack Bobridge (Aus) Trek-Segafredo0:19:27
183Albert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
184Artur Ershov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
185Bert De Backer (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin
186Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling0:20:47
187Cheng Ji (Chn) Team Giant-Alpecin
188Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSF
189Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling
190Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
191Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
192Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
193Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling0:25:59

Finish
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal28pts
2Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team18
3Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha12
4Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Wilier Triestina-Southeast12
5Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Soudal10
6Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo10
7Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin8
8Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data6
9Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale5
10Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini5
11Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge4
12Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling3
13Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team2
14Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ2
15Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team1
16Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek-Segafredo1
17Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF1

Mountain 1 - Bocca D.Selva, 54km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini15pts
2Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo8
3Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Wilier Triestina-Southeast6
4Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini4
5Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani CSF2
6Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team1

Mountain 2 - Roccaraso, 157km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal15pts
2Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team8
3Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha6
4Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin4
5Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data2
6Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale1

Intermediate sprint 1 - Cerreto Sannita, 25km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo10pts
2Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Wilier Triestina-Southeast6
3Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini3
4Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ2
5Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF1