Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa crossed the line comfortably as the overall contenders marked each other on stage six at the Giro d’Italia.
An uphill finish into Terme Luigiane saw a select group of GC favourites finish together after a breakaway had gone on to contest the stage win.
Thomas looked alert as he crossed the line in 10th, with none of the overall contenders able to claim an advantage. The result ensured the Welshman retained second place overall, six seconds behind the maglia rosa of Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors).
Landa also remains just 10 seconds off pink, 12th overall after six stages.
The day’s five-man breakaway were able to carve out a strong advantage across the lengthy 217km test. Despite the peloton upping the pace the day came down to a three-up sprint, with Silvan Dillier (BMC Racing) prevailing over Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) on the line.
A technical run-in saw Team Sky move to the fore. Again Vasil Kiryienka and Phil Deignan led the line, with Salvatore Puccio again helping to shepherd Thomas in the final kilometres.
With no breakthrough among the GC contenders Thomas summed up the day, explaining: “I felt pretty good. It’s just a case of getting through these stages. It’s always a bit weird, on stages like today and yesterday you’re not completely switched on, like you might be on a big GC day. But the legs seem to be okay.
“The break going clear meant it was a bit less stressful. Although it was still pretty stressful! There might have been splits so everyone was wanting to be at the front and super on it.”
The break going clear meant it was a bit less stressful. Although it was still pretty stressful!
“After the stage Sport Director Dario Cioni talked us through the tactics and how a lack of bonus seconds led to another GC stalemate.
He told TeamSky.com: “Potentially we could have tried to do something with G today but on a long stage today it didn’t really make a lot of sense to put a lot of energy into chasing a break, and being unsure on the final outcome.
“We were thinking more about the overall plan and this was a tricky stage that could have been dangerous in the final. The fact the break stayed away and there were no bonus seconds on the table meant everyone was happy with the situation. At the end they took it relatively easy.
“Tomorrow should be a sprinter’s stage and then on Saturday we have a stage similar today, where we could see some action in the final kilometres. But I think most people are thinking about Blockhaus on Sunday. You’ll see people making moves in the finals but not committing from a long way out until then”