Simon Yates retains the race lead after stage six sprint at Tirreno Adriatico
Belgian champion Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) won the bunch sprint to claim his first-ever WorldTour victory
The 28-year-old will head into tomorrow’s penultimate hilly stage in the Maglia Azzura, 16-seconds ahead of Rafal Majka (BORA-Hansgrohe) and 39-seconds ahead of Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers).
Today's fast 175km stage concluded with a predicted bunch sprint in Senigallia won by Belgian champion Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix), to claim his first-ever WorldTour victory with a superb sprint into Senigallia on stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico. The Belgian beat the pre-stage favourites, holding off a late charge from double-stage winner Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) to take the win.
The day began with five riders jumping away from the peloton in the opening 20km and quickly establishing a lead of around two and a half minutes.
The day remained much the same with BORA-Hansgrohe controlling the pace in the peloton until the race approached the final finishing circuits.
When the race entered the final flat circuits the wind made the conditions slightly harder than anticipated.
It wasn’t until the final lap, with just 14km remaining, that the breakaway riders returned to the bunch and the pace picked up once again for a fast and frantic bunch kick.
Mitchelton-SCOTT led the peloton into the final eight kilometres before the sprint trains came past and the sprint opened up ahead.
Flying down the sea front Yates remained tucked in the wheels, crossing the line on the same time to retain his lead ahead of tomorrow’s rolling stage.
Simon Yates said afterwards “There was a headwind down the home straight, so the sprint was quite messy, but the day in general was good for us.
“The breakaway went fairly easy, there wasn’t too much fight to get into it and the sprint teams took up the chase pretty much straight away so for us it was a nice day; which was good because I think tomorrow will be very hard and difficult to control.
“I’m sure there will be some action and some guys will try to take some time, but we will try to deal with it as best we can. We have a strong team here so I hope to defend the jersey well.”
Yates faces a medium mountain stage and a final time trial in the remaining two days as he tries to seal the overall victory.
Yates may look to isolate Thomas in the closing stages of stage seven to maybe gain a bit more time on his fellow Brit before the time trial.
VIDEO: 2020 Tirreno-Adraiatico Stage 6 Highlights
2020 Tirreno-Adraiatico Stage 6 Top 10
1 Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 3:59:30
2 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) EF Pro Cycling
4 Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) UAE Team Emirates
5 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
6Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-Quickstep
7 Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
8 Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
9 Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain McLaren
10 Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana Pro Team
2020 Tirreno-Adraiatico GC after Stage 6
1 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 27:36:29
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:16
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:39
4 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana Pro Team 0:00:49
5 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:00:54
6 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:00
7 James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:01:21
8 Michael Woods (Can) EF Pro Cycling 0:01:22
9Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:28
10 Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:02:44