Egan Bernal takes stage and leader's jersey in Tour of California
May 19 2018 06:29 am CET

Egan Bernal takes stage and leader's jersey in Tour of California
Egan Bernal takes stage and leader's jersey in Tour of California
Photo of Egan Bernal

Colombian super talent Egan Bernal has won the 6th stage in the Tour of California. He attacked on the penultimate climb and the chasers never saw him back. With his win the Team Sky rider also takes over the leader's jersey from BMC's Tejay Van Garderen.

The sixth stage was one for the climbers, as the riders had to conquer seven categorised climbs on the 176.5 km long course from Folsom to South Lake Tahoe. Among these climbs, there were two category 1 climbs, three of category 2 and two of category 3, including the final ascent.

After the start many riders tried to get in the breakaway. A group of nine eventually managed to break clear: Sean Bennett, Toms Skujins, Sergei Tvetcov, Floris de Tier, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Lawson Craddock, Evan Huffman, Gregory Rast and Benoit Cosnefroy.

They did not get the blessing of the peloton, as the maximum advantage never grew bigger than 4 minutes. Team Sky (for Egan Bernal, second on 23 seconds) and BMC (for race leader Tejay Van Garderen) controlled the bunch and kept the gap small as the high pace thinned out the field. With 50 km to go there were only 38 riders left in the peloton. Meanwhile Trek Segafredo’s Toms Skujins took enough points on the many KOM's of the day to secure the mountains jersey by one single point. It has been a very successful tour for the Latvian, as he also won the third stage.

Heading into the Daggett pass, the final first category climb (12.7 km at 6%) with its summit at 10 kilometres of the finish, the break was as good as done. Skujins held on longest, with LottoNL-Jumbo's De Tier and EF Education First's Craddock. They had 10 seconds left with 20 km to go. The Belgian got dropped soon after, leaving the other two on their own.

When Lachlan Morton attacked the two in front were immediately caught. The Dimension Data rider went on in front alone. In the group Sky increased the pace and race leader Van Garderen was soon isolated. The increase in pace was too much for Morton, as the Aussie was soon caught by the Sky train. The Aussie was not the only one that suffered, as riders including Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Rafal Majka (Bora-hansgrohe) were left behind.

When Sebastian Henao finished his work for Bernal, the other Sky rider high up in the GC, Tao Geoghegan Hart, attacked. At the moment Van Garderen almost closed the gap, Bernal attacked and bridged to his teammate. Van Garderen bridged the gap in an ultimate show of strength, but as soon as he managed the Colombian attacked. The American race leader was forced to ride his own pace up the ascent. Sky’s leader soon had 15 of the 23 seconds he needed to retake the yellow jersey. Van Garderen's job was not made easier because of Geoghegan Hart sitting on his wheel protecting Bernal's interests.

At the summit the gap was over a minute already and Bernal seemed sure for the stage win and the leader's jersey. In the chasing group, Van Garderen was left behind by Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Daniel Martinez (EF Education First) and Geoghegan Hart. BMC's yellow jersey dropped back into a group with Rafal Majka and the 20 year old Brandon McNulty. Together, they managed to get back to the first chasing group in the descent, but they were already 1:15 behind an impressive Bernal.

Another group of 6 joined the chase, and McNulty tried to benefit by breaking away. He was joined by Kristian Durasek (UAE), Yates and Majka going into the final ascent.

Bernal was unstoppable and took the stage and the leader's jersey. Yates took the second place at 1:28, ahead of Geoghegan Hart who came back to finish third on the stage, 1:30 back.

By Siebe Kok




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