Simon Gerrans surprised as he shot out of the final corner ahead of the finish line to rocket past the sprinters for victory on stage six of Volta a Catalunya. Taking his second win of the season, the 11th for ORICA-GreenEDGE, Gerrans was part of a 40-strong group that formed over the slopes of the second category Alt de Lilla.
“I’m really happy with the stage win,” said Gerrans. “It was a huge team effort today. Trav [Travis Meyer], Christian [Meier], Sam [Bewley] and Wes [Wesley Sulzberger] did a huge amount of work in the first couple of hours to cover the breakaway. They did a really fantastic job. After that, it was just a matter of Brett [Lancaster] and I taking care of our position ahead of the final.”
It took well over half the stage for a breakaway to slip up the road. The peloton finally allowed an eight rider escape group to build up a small advantage as the race approached the day’s first of two categorised climbs.
“The day unfolded pretty much according to plan although the race was a bit faster and harder than we had expected,” noted Gerrans. “The break didn’t establish until 100 kilometres, so it was super fast for the first two or three hours. The team was really good about covering moves until the break went away. They’re just about dead on their feet after such a big effort in the first half of the race.”
Lancaster helped Gerrans position himself on the approach to the second climb. The pace up the slopes of the Alt de Lilla splintered the peloton.
“The races split up the last climb,” explained Gerrans. “There was still a little breakaway just up the front. They had maybe 30” or so at this point. We rode quite fast from behind to bring that back.”
Inside the final five kilometres, the peloton had reeled in the break. Gerrans was alone in a select front group charging towards the finish.
“In the build-up to the sprint, I positioned myself around the guys that I know are going quite well at the moment,” Gerrans said. “I was able to keep myself in a good place, and I came through that last left-hander in tenth wheel or so. I was far back, but I knew the guys in front of me were still lead out riders, so I had time to come around them.”
“I kicked quite hard out of the corner,” he continued. “This gave me the opportunity to move up and use my momentum to pop out in the last couple hundred metres. I had the legs to come from behind today. It’s fantastic to get another WorldTour stage win for the team.”
Gerrans wasn’t the only ORICA-GreenEDGE rider to make a podium appearance. Christian Meier snagged both the points leader jersey and the Tour de France 100 Sprint jersey on the first day of racing and has successfully defended both jerseys through today’s penultimate stage
“Christian is the guy that you can always count on to help out the other riders,” said Gerrans. “He’s a hard worker, and his efforts are almost always for his team. I’m happy to see him get something for himself. It would be a big result for Christian to finish the race tomorrow in either one or both of those sprint jerseys.”