Australian Simon Gerrans timed his effort perfectly to win the sixth stage of the Volta a Catalunya on Saturday as Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) increased his lead at the top of the overall standings.
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.
The Orica-GreenEDGE rider prevailed in a sprint finish in the penultimate day's 178.7km stage from Almacelles to Valls, beating double stage winner Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Daniele Ratto (Ag2R La Mondiale).
Really happy to win today. Big thanks to my teammates and staff, it was a real team effort. #winnersaregrinners— Simon Gerrans (@simongerrans) March 23, 2013
Race leader Martin extended his advantage over Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) by three seconds to 17sec with a 45sec gap back to Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
“I’m really happy with the stage win,” said Gerrans.
“It was a huge team effort today. Trav (Travis Meyer), Christian (Meier), Sam (Bewley) and Wes (Wesley Sulzberger) did a huge amount of work in the first couple of hours to cover the breakaway. They did a really fantastic job. After that, it was just a matter of Brett (Lancaster) and I taking care of our position ahead of the final.”
The sixth stage was punctuated by an eight-man breakaway. Gerrans was part of 40-strong front group that formed over the slopes of the second category Alt de Lilla.
“The races split up the last climb,” explained Gerrans. “There was still a little breakaway just up the front. They had maybe 30 seconds or so at this point. We rode quite fast from behind to bring that back.”
With the break caught with four kilometres to go and no team-mates with him in the lead group, Gerrans considered his winning move.
“In the build-up to the sprint, I positioned myself around the guys that I know are going quite well at the moment. 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.”
Gerrans wasn’t the only ORICA-GreenEDGE rider to make a podium appearance with team-mate Christian Meier snagging both the points leader jersey and the Tour de France 100 Sprint jersey on the first day of racing and has successfully defended both jerseys so far.
Irishman Martin holds a 17sec lead ahead of the final stage.
Team rode magnificently today. Very proud. Peleton threw everything at us but stood strong. 102km in 2hrs and by no means flat.— Dan Martin (@DanMartin86) March 23, 2013
Sunday's seventh and final stage is a 122.2km ride from El Vendrell to Barcelona, with the finish up the slopes of Montjuic where Rodriguez may attempt a punchy attack to usurp Martin.
Stage 6: 178.7km: Almacelles - Valls
1 Simon Gerrans (AUS) Orica-GreenEDGE 3hr 55min 46sec
2 Gianni Meersman (BEL) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
3 Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) Ag2R La Mondiale
4 Daniele Ratto (ITA) Cannondale
5 Danilo Wyss (SWI) BMC
6 Julien Simon (FRA) Sojasun
7 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (ESP) Katusha
8 Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) Katusha
9 Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) Astana
10Rigoberto Uran Uran (COL) Sky
1 Daniel Martin (IRL) Garmin-Sharp 26hr 16min 22sec
2 Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) Katusha 0:00:17
3 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (COL) Movistar 0:00:45
4 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky 0:00:54
5 Michele Scarponi (ITA) Lampre-Merida 0:00:55
6 Robert Gesink (NED) Blanco 0:01:07
7 Przemyslaw Niemiec (POL) Lampre-Merida 0:01:18
8 Thibaut Pinot (FRA) FDJ 0:01:26
9 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (BEL) Lotto Belisol 0:01:28
10 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0:01:30