Felix Grossschartner was the team’s top finisher on very lively and unusual stage 6 of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, after which he jumped to 20th place overall.
Info: 25th of March, Tortosa – Reus, 189,7km
Course: mountainous, no flat stretches, 4 KOMs (Alt de Bot – 24km, 3.cat; Alt de Falset – 119km, 3.cat; Coll de Porrera – 132km, 3.cat; Alt de la Musara – 151, 1.cat)
Very hilly and tough stage provoked few top GC riders to play out the race in different way than usually. This time instead of a traditional breakaway, over 50-man group emerged in the front, which was a result of breaking the field apart early on.
Felix Grossschartner managed to fight his way to the first group, but CCC Sprandi Polkowice best placed rider, Jan Hirt ended up in third group. Alberto Contador’s (Trek Segafredo) and Alejandro Valverde’s (Movistar) teammates were setting high pace in the front to stretch the lead over Christopher Froome (Team Sky), who was riding in the chasing bunch. That meant that Hirt was losing more and more time in the general standings.
The Austrian from CCC Sprandi Polkowice represented well the “orange squad” in the front, but eventually, with 40km to go he had to let it go, on cat. 1 climb to Alt de la Musara. Due to very strong pace set by Movistar no one was too eager to try to go away on the ascent, as the main group was reduced to around 25 riders.
Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing) and Dario Cataldo (Astana) made their moves, but it was inside 10 kilometers to go, after the descent. Their hopes were high, but the chasers swept them away, passing the duo just before the line. Daryl Impey (ORICA-Scott) flew by the attackers on the left side of the road, surprising Alejandro Valverde who did his sprint on the right. The rider from South Africa took the win, GC leader was 2nd and Arthur Vichot (FDJ) 3rd.
Felix Grossschartner came in in 43th (6:30 back), but that helped him move up to 20th place overall. Five “riders in orange” (including Hirt) didn’t make it in the time limit and will not race on the last stage in Barcelona.