Jasper Stuyven capped off strong team tactics at Tirreno-Adriatico with a third place in the final road stage of the weeklong race.
Trek-Segafredo played its cards perfectly in the finishing kilometers of the 168-kilometer stage six: the Trek-Segafredo train led across the finish line the first time, maintaining top position with a 15-kilometer lap and one tricky climb remaining.
Fabio Felline then threw down a fierce attack on the last uphill while Jasper Stuyven waited behind, following wheels. When Felline was tagged back three kilometers from home, Stuyven was in good position and finished it off with a podium finish, sprinting to third place behind winner Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).
"It was really good, and we knew we had to be in the front when we passed the finish line for the first time," explained Stuyven. "Markel (Irizar) and (Marco) Coledan were the perfect guys to do this. Markel was there at first, but he had a mechanical, so then we only had Marco; we knew these guys would have a hard time to make it over the climb so we used them there and it was perfect.
"Koen (de Kort) kept me again in the front for the climb, and I followed Sagan and Gaviria when they went over the top. But then the peloton came back, but I was able to keep good position; I had the good wheels, but I just couldn't come around them at the end."
Fabio Felline has shown feistiness all week, and today laid out a perfect move that enticed Sagan to react with Gaviria tight on his wheel. While Felline appeared strong and held off the chase until less than three kilometers to go, he felt far from his true form he explained:
"It was our plan for me to go on the last climb if I had the opportunity. I did not have great legs - so much pain in the legs - but I think it is normal from my crash and maybe I need more days before they completely recover. But what was important was to follow through with the team goal, and in the final Jasper was third! I think we did fantastic teamwork."
"The climb was perfect," agreed Stuyven. "I only had to follow the moves since I had Fabio in the front; it was a good situation. I like this finale: twisty with a little climb to make the real sprinters a little tired. It was a good day to finish off the week - well there is a time trial tomorrow, but a nice way to finish the road races ."
Tomorrow's stage seven concludes a hard week of racing with a 10-kilometers time trial, and Bauke Mollema will have one last opportunity to improve on his 9th place in the overall classification.
All photos ©Bettiniphoto