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Tirreno-Adriatico 2015: Stage 6

Live coverage of stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico, 210 kilometres from Rieti to Porto Sant'Elpidio.

94km remaining from 210km

As we pick up the action, a break of three riders has a lead of 2:30 over the peloton. Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing), Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and Alessandro Vanotti (Astana) broke clear after 15 kilometres or so, and established a maximum lead of 5:45 before the peloton began to reel them back in.

After snow greeted the riders atop Monte Terminillo yesterday, they opened the curtains in Rieti this morning to driving rain. It was a miserable four degrees Celsius at the start, while at the finish on the coast in Porto Sant'Elpidio, a stiff wind is reportedly gusting in from the Adriatci.

Given those conditions - and the effects of two tough days of racing over the weekend - it's not surprising that there's been a steady stream of abandons all day. Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin), Angel Vicioso (Katusha) and Stef Clement (IAM Cycling) all opted not to start this morning.

Since the stage began, Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo), Yoann Offredo (FDJ), Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling) and Pierre Rolland (Europcar) have been among the riders to pull out on what has thus far been a thoroughly miserable afternoon in Lazio and the Marche.

82km remaining from 210km

Devolder, Arashiro and Vanotti are approaching the climb to Montelparo, the sole categorised ascent of the day. The steep Muro di Sant'Elpidio, which caused such chaos on a similarly wet day at Tirreno-Adriatico two years ago, does not feature this time around. The finale instead features two laps of a 14.4km circuit that the road book admits is "basically on flat ground." That said, there are some technical sections on the circuit that could help break things up a little, particularly given the conditions.

The break's lead, incidentally, is back up to 3:10 on the climb, as the Movistar team of overall leader Nairo Quintana keep tabs on affairs at the head of the peloton. They have no reason to control this break too closely - the best-placed man is Vanotti, who is 18:19 off the lead in 47th place overall.

The overall picture looks like this after Quintana's solo victory at Monte Terminillo:

1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 19:54:45
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:39
3 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:48
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:00:57
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:03
6 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge 0:01:04
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:06
8 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:07
9 Stephen Cummings (GBr) MTN - Qhubeka 0:01:12
10 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:01:13

You can read a full report and watch video highlights of Quintana's stage victory here. It's a long, long way to July, of course, but Quintana certainly laid down an important marker with his display yesterday, putting almost a minute into an Alberto Contador who traded heavy blows with Chris Froome at the Ruta del Sol last month.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) arrived at Tirreno-Adriatico insisting that he was still short of his best and yesterday's display confirmed as much. The Sicilian conceded over two minutes to Quintana yesterday and after the stage he even raised doubts about whether he will line up at Milan-San Remo next weekend, citing his form and the absence of Le Manie from the parcours.

72km remaining from 210km

The weather conditions are currently preventing host broadcaster RAI from transmitting live images (another Tirreno-Adriatico tradition...) but we're informed that the Tinkoff-Saxo team upped the pace on the way up the climb of Montelparo and fragmented the peloton. The gap to the three leaders is down to 1:34.

Tinkoff-Saxo's forcing - on behalf of both Peter Sagan's bid for stage victory and Alberto Contador's faint hopes of the overall win - has left a group of 30 riders ahead of the peloton with those caught behind scrambling to get back on.

It seems as though all of the podium contenders are safely aboard the front section of the peloton but a number of the sprinters have been jettisoned out the back.

64km remaining from 210km

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) suffers a rather untimely puncture, just as the race is catching fire. The Catalan began the day in 8th place overall, 1:07 down on Quintana.

62km remaining from 210km

Tinkoff-Saxo's pace-setting on the front has reduced Devolder, Vanotti and Arashiro's lead to 40 seconds.

58km remaining from 210km

Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) is reportedly among the sprinters in a group currently some 40 seconds down on the Tinkoff-Saxo-led peloton. Nairo Quintana, Bauke Mollema and Rigoberto Uran are all safely in the front part of the peloton, where nobody, apparently, is willing to offer Tinkoff-Saxo a hand.

Stijn Devolder is no longer part of the leading break, and Arashiro and Vanotti's lead over the front of the peloton is down to 20 seconds.

51km remaining from 210km

Arashiro and Vanotti are caught by the front of the peloton.

Fabian Cancellara was leading the chase for Trek Factory Racing in the second half of the peloton, suggesting that Bauke Mollema was among those caught behind.

Tinkoff-Saxo continue to lead the main peloton, which has swollen to around 100 riders.

47km remaining from 210km

Ivan Basso sets the tempo at the head of the peloton, followed by a line of Tinkoff-Saxo riders. It seems that all of the dropped groups have managed to fight their way back on. Gruppo compatto.

Pim Ligthart of Jens Debusschere's Lotto-Soudal squad is also lending a hand to the pace-making efforts at the front of the bunch. Peter Sagan sits comfortably - or at least, as comfortably as one can in these conditions - in sixth wheel.

44km remaining from 210km

Nairo Quintana's blue jersey is hidden under a Movistar rain cape, and the Colombian's overall lead looks secure. He is surrounded by teammates and well-posiitoned towards the head of the peloton.

40km remaining from 210km

A combination of the grim conditions and Tinkoff-Saxo's brisk pace at the front has dissuaded any attacks since Devolder, Arashiro and Vanotti were pegged back, though that situation was change somewhat once the race hits the finishing circuit around Porto Sant'Elpidio.

A shot of the peloton from the helicopter suggests that there are still riders missing from it, although host broadcaster RAI is only showing images of that one group. Tuttobici is reporting that Mark Cavendish is among those missing from the peloton.

35km remaining from 210km

Remarkably, Alessandro Vanotti (Astana), already part of the day's early break, zips off the front alone and opens a small gap over the Tinkoff-Saxo-led peloton.

31km remaining from 210km

Vanotti holds a lead of 25 seconds over the main peloton as he approaches Porto Sant'Elipidio and the finish line for the first time.

Mark Cavendish, Tyler Farrar (MTN-Qhubeka) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) are reportedly part of a group that is some four minutes down on the main peloton.

28km remaining from 210km

Vanotti crosses the finish line with two laps remaining. The peloton is within sight of the Italian, however, and he should be swept up shortly.

26km remaining from 210km

Peter Sagan is the obvious favourite for stage victory but it appears that he still has Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal), Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka), Luke Mezgec (Giant-Alpecin) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) for company in this front group.

Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale) clipped off the front of the peloton as it crossed the finish line for the first time, and he has bridged across to Vanotti. They hold a lead of 30 seconds over the peloton.

Meanwhile, we get our first sight of the Cavendish group as they roll through the finish area with 28.5 kilometres still to race. Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) is among the riders in the group, along with Modolo, Farrar and Mark Renshaw.

24km remaining from 210km

Vanotti and Vuillermoz defend a lead of 23 seconds over the bunch, where Ivan Basso continues to ride on the front in support of Sagan.

A former mountain biker, Vuillermoz impressed on his Giro d'Italia debut last year, finishing in 11th overall while riding in the service of Domenico Pozzovivo. The Frenchman reportedly has designs on a place in Ag2r-La Mondiale's Tour de France team this time around.

21km remaining from 210km

Ligthart continues to contribute to the pacing at the head of the peloton. His teammate Debusschere, of course, beat Sagan into second place in Cascina on stage 2.

19km remaining from 210km

Christopher Juul-Jensen ratchets the pace up another notch for Tinkoff-Saxo. Either way, one suspects the headlines will be all about Peter Sagan after today's stage... 19 seconds the gap to Vanotti and Vuillermoz.

17km remaining from 210km

Vanotti and Vuillermoz continue to collaborate smoothly but their gap is shaved back to 15 seconds as Tinkoff-Saxo continue to apply the pressure behind.

There is a traffic island and sharp right-hand turn combination with around 1500 metres to go that could wreak havoc on the final lap, particularly in conditions as greasy as these. The peloton is safely through this time around...

14km remaining from 210km

Vuillermoz leads Vanotti through the finish line. With one lap remaining, their lead is 20 seconds.

Our man in Porto Sant'Elpidio Stephen Farrand reports that Luka Mezgec (Giant-Alpecin) has abandoned the race. Sagan could hardly have hand-picked a more amenable peloton for an eventual bunch finish...

12km remaining from 210km

Alexis Vuillermoz accelerates and leaves Vanotti behind. The Frenchman felt their speed was dropping and has taken off alone in a bid to prolong his spell off the front.

11km remaining from 210km

It's becoming easier to spot the sprinters on this final lap of the finishing circuit - they're the men who have peeled off their jackets and capes.

10km remaining from 210km

Vuillermoz is putting up fierce resistance but he surely can't sustain his lead over the Tinkoff-Saxo-led bunch much longer.

A delegation from MTN-Qhubeka is beating a path towards the head of the peloton. They have a few sprint options here, including - we think - Matt Goss and Kristian Sbaragli.

8km remaining from 210km

Greg Van Avermaet has a phalanx of BMC riders positoning him towards the front, too. Vuillermoz's lead, meanwhile, is down to nine seconds.

7km remaining from 210km

The game seems up for Vuillermoz, who visibly struggles to keep his gear going around on a false flat. The peloton is within touching distance.

6km remaining from 210km

Vuillermoz is still refusing to yield, but Tinkoff-Saxo are winding up the pace in earnest just behind him. The gap is 8 seconds.

5km remaining from 210km

Sagan sits in third place. 2013 Milan-San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek, meanwhile, is also in this group for MTN-Qhubeka. Filippo Pozzato is on hand for Lampre-Merida.

4km remaining from 210km

Vuillermoz's wheels almost slip from beneath him on a corner but he corrects himself and continues on his way. The peloton is almost upon him, however.

4km remaining from 210km

Tinkoff-Saxo appear to have been swamped at the head of the peloton, but a couple of Sagan's teammates are still trying to bring order to affairs.

3km remaining from 210km

Vuillermoz is caught by the peloton and the stage is set for a reduced bunch finish.

2km remaining from 210km

Sagan sits in fifth position. Fabian Cancellara (Trek) is also prominent near the front.

2km remaining from 210km

Goss rides on the front for MTN-Qhubeka, who appear to be riding for Ciolek.

1km remaining from 210km

The bunch is safely through that sharp right hand corner.

1km remaining from 210km

The black jerseys of MTN-Qhubeka lead the peloton into the final kilometre. Sagan is isolated.

Lotto take up the reins for Debusschere. Sagan sits in fourth place on Ciolek's wheel.

Boasson Hagen leads out the sprint for Ciolek...

Sagan comes off his wheel and hits the front....

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) wins stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico, his first victory of the season.

Behind Sagan, Ciolek took second ahead of Jens Debusschere, while Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-GreenEdge) finished fourth.

After a string of near misses, Sagan could be forgiven for doubting himself but he showed no lack of confidence here. The Slovak opened his sprint more or less at the same time as Ciolek, diving to the left of Boasson Hagen while Ciolek went to the right. Sagan quickly opened a lead of bike length over Ciolek and ran out a resounding winner.

Debusschere made up some ground in the closing 50 metres but the Belgian was coming from too far back and had to settle for third place.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar), of course, retains his overall lead.

Result:

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
2 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka
3 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica GreenEdge
5 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN - Qhubeka
7 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
8 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
9 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
10 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team

General classification after stage 6:

1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:58:58
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:39
3 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:48
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:00:57
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:03
6 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge 0:01:04
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:06
8 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:07
9 Stephen Cummings (GBr) MTN - Qhubeka 0:01:12
10 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:01:13

Sagan's first win since joining Tinkoff-Saxo is a timely boost to his morale ahead of Milan-San Remo next Sunday. A full report, results and video highlights will follow here, while Stephen Farrand will have all the news and reaction from a sodden Porto Sant'Elpidio. Thanks for joining our live coverage on Cyclingnews today, we'll be back with more from tomorrow's concluding time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto, as Nairo Quintana carries a 39-second overall lead into the final day.

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