Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) won stage six of the Tour de Suisse thanks to a phenomenal lead out by race leader Tony Martin.
Martin hit the front of what was a vastly reduced bunch with little more than a kilometre to go, putting on such power that he caused a split to form leaving pre-stage favourite Peter Sagan (Cannondale) among those caught behind.
And Trentin was the beneficiary, riding on his team-mate’s wheel before leading out the sprint and pipping Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) to victory.
Martin, meanwhile, held on to his yellow jersey in emphatic style, ensuring he retains a six-second overall lead ahead of the stage seven individual time trial, where the world champion is heavily fancied to win.
A few early attacks from the bunch came to nothing, but five riders in the day’s first main break went clear, with Swiss favourite Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) among them. Jacopo Guarnieri (Astana), Vladimir Isaichev (Katusha), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM Cycling) completed the group.
Tinkoff-Saxo and FDJ.fr initially led the chase. Omega Pharma-Quickstep were already down a key man after Paris-Roubaix winner, Niki Terpstra, was unable to take the start.
The peloton remained unperturbed however, despite a puncture for world road race champion, Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), and a pinch in the road, caused by roadworks, forcing a few riders to unclip.
The five-man break’s advantage never stretched to anything of concern for the bunch, particularly when Team Sky hit the front to set a furious tempo. With numbers up the road, Joe Dombrowski, Philip Deignan and Christian Knees all pulled big shifts, with Sergio Henao, Ben Swift and Peter Kennaugh following behind.
It was in stark contrast to Martin’s team, with the German race leader finding himself largely isolated at the front. Tom Boonen was among the riders shelled out the back on the Col des Rangiers.
Gert Steegmans stuck with the yellow jersey, sitting in the wheels of the Team Sky riders amassed at the front, but his support soon faded too, leaving Trentin one of the few OPQS riders still in the bunch.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) was another to be shelled from the back of the bunch, the British champion having clung to the leading group for some time before having to sit up, sharing a joke with Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing).
Sky continued to lead the way up the penultimate climb before Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) exploded into life as the peak approached, hauling red jersey Bjorn Thurau (Team Europcar) with him.
Thurau had only the climbing points in mind, but Barguil – a two-time stage winner at the Vuelta a Espana – had greater ambitions. Removing his ear piece, he attacked hard over the descent and had a 20-second advantage as Team Sky continued to lead the chase.
Despite several riders having peeled off, the British team was still well-represented at the front, many of them returning to the head of the bunch as they reeled in Barguil.
Deignan pulled a huge shift as the race approached the final category-three climb as Laurent Didier (Trek Factory Racing) attacked. IAM Cycling moved to the fore in response, leaving Sky happy to sit just behind them, while Martin remained a few wheels further back.
Didier’s attack was short-lived, as Fumeaux and Marcel Wyss led the reduced bunch at the bequest of team-mate Mathias Frank. Frank launched his own attack as the final summit approached, dragging Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) with him and prompting a counter-attack from Sagan as the race burst into life at the front.
Sagan led the way over the climb before returning to the strung out peloton with team-mate Davide Formolo joining him at the front. Despite registering a statement of intent, the attack having momentarily split the bunch, Sagan found he could not rid himself of the likes of Martin and Henao.
On the descent, however, the two-time Tour de France green jersey winner rode hard, tucking as low as possible, placing his weight entirely on the front of the bike as he dropped onto his crossbar and piled on the pressure as the sweeping roads allowed him to open up an advantage.
Martin, himself no mean descender, as he proved with his Tour of the Basque Country stage win, remained near the front too.
Georg Preidler (Giant-Shimano) and Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing) bridged to Sagan as the roads levelled out, spotting an opportunity to earn a gap. Kennaugh was alert to the danger however, and made the junction before Martin led the bunch under the flamme rouge.
His power was enough to cause a split and allow six riders to earn a few bike lengths over their rivals. Trentin was the beneficiary of Martin’s huge wind-up, and burst from the German’s wheel to lead out the sprint.
Bennati chased with him, but Trentin put the power down to hold off the veteran’s charge and seal the Belgian super team’s third stage win of this year’s race.
Ben Swift (Team Sky), meanwhile, crossed in fourth – his efforts on the climbs taking their toll, though Team Sky’s efforts throughout the day were not completely in vain: the returning Sergio Henao was given a chance to test his legs and finished in a respectable ninth place.
Tour de Suisse 2014: stage six – result
1) Matteo Trentin (ITA) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 4.43.19hrs
2) Daniele Bennati (ITA) – Tinkoff-Saxo – ST
3) Francesco Gavazzi (ITA) – Astana
4) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky
5) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Cannondale
6) Sacha Modolo (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
7) Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) – Movistar
8) Silvan Dillier (SUI) – IAM Cycling
9) Sergio Henao (COL) – Team Sky
10) Tosh van der Sande (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol
1) Tony Martin (GER) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 23.11.06hrs
2) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Shimano +6”
3) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Cannondale +10”
4) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling +17”
5) Tom-Jelte Slagter (NED) – Garmin-Sharp +23”
6) Davide Formolo (ITA) – Cannondale +27”
7) Jon Izaguirre (ESP) – Movistar – ST
8) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Tinkoff-Saxo +28”
9) Mathias Frank (SUI) – IAM Cycling +29”
10) Mattia Cattaneo (ITA) – Lampre-Merida – ST