The Kazakh Aleksej Loetsenko rewarded a long day in the attack with the stage win in the sixth stage of the Tour de France. Loetsenko won the stage to the top of Mont Aigoual for Spaniard Jesús Herrada, who crossed the finish line just a minute later.
Twelve kilometers before the finish the riders came on top of the toughest climb of the day, the Col de la Lusette (first category). There were no attacks between the general classification riders.
Yates keeps the yellow
The yellow jersey of the Englishman Adam Yates wasn’t in danger. Yates kept his lead of three seconds on Primoz Roglic and seven seconds on Tadej Pogacar.
Julian Alaphilippe, who lost the yellow jersey on Wednesday after a time penalty for taking a water bottle, sprinted to fifth place as the first rider of the peloton. A thoughtful and strong Bauke Mollema finished sixth.
On the Col de la Lusette the riders of Ineos, helpers of Egan Bernal, set the pace. Tom Dumoulin of Jumbo-Visma, who won the previous two stages, responded: “That was fine by us”. “We don’t have to show ourselves every day.”
Mollema showed his strength by sprinting behind Alaphilippe in the final meters. “I was surprised that Bernal had to leave the hole. He said to Michal Kwiatkowski two hundred meters from the finish ‘take it easy’. Maybe he wasn’t super or he didn’t want to go faster.”
“I still had a sprint in my legs. These finishes are good for me, it wasn’t too steep.”
After the start in Le Teil on Wednesday no rider was hungry for a spot in the leading group and eight riders attacked. Not the least names, because six of the eight riders had already won a stage in a big tour.
Besides Loetsenko and Herrada, reigning Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Nicholas Roche, Rémi Cavagna, Daniel Oss and the birthday boy Neilson Powless attacked out of the peloton. Only the last two didn’t win a stage in a big round before, Van Avermaet and Boasson Hagen triumphed as the only ones earlier in the Tour.
The eight leaders had a maximum lead of more than six minutes on the peloton, which was mainly controlled by Yates’ teammates of Mitchelton-Scott and Ineos.
However, the pace in the peloton was so low that on the climb up the Col de la Lusette it became clear that the attackers were going to fight for the day’s victory.
Solo over the line
Loetsenko took off with Powless, but the American couldn’t follow him. In the last twelve kilometres, which were uphill but where no points could be earned for the mountain classification, Loetsenko wasn’t able to catch up.
He’s the first Kazakh to win a Tour stage since Alexander Vinokourov in 2010.