Burghardt excites in bold breakaway move while Sagan survives crash to take sprint second at Tirreno-Adriatico
After four days of being responsible for ending the breakaway’s chances with his brutal pace setting, BORA-hansgrohe’s Marcus Burghardt took his chances today by jumping in the escape himself – only to attack and ride off on his own. Holding the peloton at bay until the final 20km, the German National Champion handed over to the UCI World Champion to go for the win. While a crash in the final 10km held him up and also required a wheel change, Peter Sagan brought himself back into position and was narrowly denied in the bunch sprint after a superhuman effort.
There was only one road stage left of this year’s race before a time trial brought Tirreno-Adriatico to a close. For those who weren’t strong in the race against the clock, this would be the last chance to take a stage win. At 153km, this was the shortest stage, and while the first 113km were undulating and hilly, the final 40km were flat. All eyes would be on the run-in to the finish to see who would be in a position to contest what looked likely to be a bunch sprint. However, while the finale was flat, there were some twists and turns on the street circuit, as well as street furniture, which could cause havoc as the pace increased.
The Team Tactics
While the team had brought excitement to the race, with strong attacking moves and closely contested sprints, up until this point, a stage win hadn’t been forthcoming. The aim today was to get in the day’s break to create some fireworks and force the sprint teams to work harder, tiring them out, before either trying to make the break stick and stay out to the end or go for the win with Peter in the predicted bunch sprint. The flat finish would encourage a bunch sprint, but the UCI World Champion would have to be well protected over the street circuit in order to be delivered to the line in a good position to contest the finish among some strong sprint rivals.
Having been the driving force in the peloton drawing in the breaks on the other road stages, BORA-hansgrohe’s Marcus Burghardt managed to make the jump today, teaming up with three others to make the day’s breakaway. With the German National Champion to drive the pace, the escapees built up an advantage of around three minutes, but around 79km, Marcus began putting distance between himself and the rest of the break – a bold move given the terrain and the threat of rain – stretching out a lead of more than a minute over his former collaborators, who were swept up by the peloton shortly after. While the German powerhouse managed to hold the peloton away single-handed, he was caught by the peloton as the race raised the pace for the final circuit. As expected, the high pace caused some nervousness in the bunch, and the final 15km were punctuated by crashes, including a major one at 7.8km to go, which happened directly in front of Peter and required that he change his wheel. While any other rider would consider this the end of their race, the UCI World Champion refused to let this hold him back, riding out of his skin to get back on and contest the sprint, still managing to put in a remarkably strong sprint and only just missing the victory. No change in the GC meant Davide Formolo kept hold of seventh spot in the overall standings.
01 M.Kittel 3h49’54”
02 P.Sagan +0:00
03 M.Richeze +0:00
04 S.Modolo +0:00
05 Z.Stybar +0:00
From the Finish Line
"The team did a great job all day and we were well positioned in the last kilometres but, unfortunately, in order to avoid hitting the road, I had to brake hard. The riders behind me piled up and my back wheel was damaged, so we had to change it. I was able to come back for the final sprint but I had spent a lot of energy. That's cycling, there are things you can't control in a race." – Peter Sagan
"I went to the break to try my chances at making it all the way to the finish and the win. Unfortunately, it wasn't possible and I just made the race hard so that the other sprinters got a bit more tired at the finish. It's a pity Peter was caught up in the pileup in the finale but that's part of the race. At least, we tried." – Marcus Burghardt
"Our aim today was to try for the stage win with Peter while at the same time putting pressure on the other sprinting teams, such as Katusha, making them spend energy. Marcus Burghardt did an exceptional job. He pulled at the front and gave it a shot at, possibly, a solo victory. However, despite this strong effort, we weren't lucky. Peter was involved in the crash and had to change his wheel. Fortunately, our team car was close behind him and he was able to get back to the race very fast. He made a fantastic recovery and closed the gap to the sprinters at the front but that effort took its toll and Peter couldn't beat Kittel on the line. Tomorrow we will look for a good finish from Maciej Bodnar in the time trial, and focus on protecting Davide Formolo’s position in the GC and maybe gain some places if possible." – Patxi Vila