Tour de France: Giulio Ciccone takes over the yellow jersey on the 6th stage
Scene of the stage: Giulio Ciccone attacked Dylan Teuns on the last few meters of the Planche des Belles Filles - with a gradient of 24 percent on gravel. But Teuns countered with an even stronger attack, while Ciccone seemed to stand on the steep ramp only. Teuns won the first mountain finish of this year's Tour de France.
Result of the stage: Teuns won the sixth stage from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles, eleven seconds ahead of Ciccone. But the Italian received the bigger prize: he took the yellow jersey of Julian Alaphilippe, who is six seconds behind Ciccone in the overall standings. Tim Wellens keeps the mountain jersey, Peter Sagan the jersey of the best sprinter. Click here for the race report.
The magic of Planches des Filles: Even before the race day, a special statistics of the destination was cited up and down. Anyone who wears the yellow jersey here at the award ceremony has always worn it to Paris. This was Bradley Wiggins (2012), Vincenzo Nibali (2014) and Christopher Froome (2017). It's unlikely that Ciccone will win the Tour de France this year.
As once Pantani: Ciccone, 24 years old, had to undergo surgery for cardiac arrhythmias about two years ago, but that did not lastingly affect him in his sport. His ride to the overall lead called the cycling chroniclers on the plan: Ciccone is the first driver since Marco Pantani in 1998, who was able to slip the yellow jersey in the Tour de France in the same year after winning the mountain classification at the Giro d'Italia. "The yellow jersey was my childhood dream," said Ciccone, "Today I've fulfilled that dream, that's wonderful."
Given up: For Patrick Bevin of the CCC Team the day started with a disappointment. After a crash on the fourth leg, the New Zealander still had to finish and then even fought over the fifth stage. He was then X-rayed and found that he had broken two ribs. Although he still wanted to start on the sixth stage, in the morning the pain was too big. Bevin had to be the first driver to give up on the tour this year. During the day he was followed by the sick Frenchman Edet Nicolas.
Runaway: Early on the 160.5-kilometer stage, a breakaway group of 14 riders set off from the peloton. Among them were three German riders: Nikias Arndt, Nils Politt and sprinter Andre Greipel. The "Gorilla", as Greipel is called, but missed the victory in the sprint and had to say goodbye a little later in the mountains. Gradually, ten of his tour partners followed him. Only stage winners Teuns, Ciccone and third-placed Xandro Meurisse were not overtaken.
The favorite group: In recent years, Team Sky, now Team Ineos, dominated the peloton, did tracking work, and kept outliers on a short leash. But this time Ineos left the responsibility to other teams, especially Movistar for the co-favorites Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana. Whether Ineos continues with this tactic, is exciting.
Alaphilippes Despair: For the last thousand meters of the final climb, Alaphilippe did his best not to lose his yellow jersey. He dropped out of the favorites, but last year's winner Geraint Thomas and the Frenchman Thibaut Pinot followed him. Thomas overtook Alaphilippe, Pinot came at the same time with his compatriot to the finish. The lost the yellow jersey at the end because of six seconds behind the stage second Ciccone.
And the others? Not all co-favorites participated in the final spurt on gravel. Nevertheless, the German tour hopeful Emanuel Buchmann took a strong eighth place. Top talent Egan Bernal could not follow his team mate Thomas and is now in sixth place, 53 seconds behind Ciccone. Bernal will wear the jersey of the best young professional on Friday. Bitter it was for the Frenchman Romain Bardet, who lost about two minutes to the co-favorites.
What's next? On the hilly seventh leg on Friday Ciccone will probably be able to defend the Maillot Jaune with his team Trek-Segafredo when everything comes down to a final sprint. But as soon as it goes back into the mountains from the weekend, he will probably have no chance against the top favorites for Thomas and Bernal.