Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) took a step closer to overall victory in the 2013 Volta a Catalunya today by increasing his lead with one stage remaining.
Martin added a further three seconds to his lead over world number one, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), on a day in which Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) made another significant addition to his palmares.
The Australian, winner last year of the Tour Down Under and Milan San Remo, held off Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), winner of the opening two stages, and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), who recorded his second podium finish in two days.
Gerrans thanked his team-mates, singling out Christian Meier, who moved in to the lead of the points jersey competition on the same stage.
“In the build-up to the sprint, I positioned myself around the guys that I know are going quite well at the moment,” said Gerrans.
“I was able to keep myself in a good place, and I came through that last left-hander in tenth wheel or so. I was far back, but I knew the guys in front of me were still lead out riders, so I had time to come around them.”
“I kicked quite hard out of the corner. This gave me the opportunity to move up and use my momentum to pop out in the last couple hundred metres. I had the legs to come from behind today. It’s fantastic to get another WorldTour stage win for the team.”
An extremely fast stage was punctuated with numerous attacks and an eight-strong breakaway, which included Team Sky neo pro, Josh Edmondson, shook off the peloton on the Alt de Prades, a first category climb. The BMC-driven bunch, however, swept them up inside the last five kilometres, setting the stage for a sprint finish.
Martin will have to be vigilant to wrap up victory on a tricky closing stage tomorrow, which includes seven ascents of the Alt de Montjuic on a criterium-style circuit in Barcelona.
Rodriguez, winner of the Volta in 2010, will fancy his chances, and while overall victory looks beyond Bradley Wiggins, who is fourth on GC, 54 seconds behind Martin, the Londoner, who launched attacks on stages one and four, could fancy another tear up before leaving Catalunya.
Martin won the Tour of Poland in 2010 and will need to call on all his experience tomorrow, as well as the support of his Garmin-Sharp team-mates, among whom 2012 Giro d’Italia winner, Ryder Hesjedal, has already shown his willingness to support the Ireland-registered rider.
Volta a Catalynua 2012 – stage six – result
1) Simon Gerrans (AUS) – Orica-GreenEdge – 4.00.00
2) Gianni Meersman (BEL) -Omega Pharma-QuickStep – ST
3) Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) – AG2R La Mondiale
4) Daniele Ratto (ITA) – Cannondale Pro Cycling
5) Danilo Wyss (SWI) – BMC Racing Team
6) Julien Simon (FRA) – Sojasun
7) Daniel Moreno (SPA) – Katusha
8) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha
9) Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – Astana
10) Rigoberto Uran (COL) –Team Sky
1) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Garmin-Sharp – 26.16.22
2) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha +17”
3) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +45”
4) Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky +54”
5) Michele Scarponi (ITA) – Lampre-Merida +55″
6) Robert Gesink (NED) – Blanco +1.07
7) Przemyslaw Niemiec (POL) – Lampre-Merida +1.18
8) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ +1.26
9) Jurgen Van Den Broeck (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol +1.28
10) Peter Stetina (USA) – Garmin-Sharp +1.30