Gino Mader won stage six of the Giro d’Italia as Egan Bernal and Dan Martin took a step forward in the battle for pink. Mader took the win for Bahrain-Victorious out of the breakaway, handing a huge morale boost to the team after their leader, Mikel Landa, crashed out 24 hours earlier.
Attila Valter took the maglia rosa from Alessandro De Marchi, but Bernal made a statement of intent as the Ineos Grenadiers worked in the wind and rain to soften up rivals before the Colombian attacked on the final climb to take second just ahead of De Marchi’s Israel Start-Up Nation teammate Martin.
Only Remco Evenepoel and Giulio Ciccone could keep up, with the quartet putting seconds into Simon Yates, Hugh Carthy, and others, though they all took a step forward in the standings as De Marchi was distanced on the mountainous 160km stage from Grotte di Frasassi to San Giacomo above Ascoli Piceno. Groupama-FDJ’s Valter, 22, started the day in the best young riders’ white jersey but had stated his intent to swap it for pink.
“It’s good to make jokes in the morning but to really believe it is another story,” he said. “I cannot be more surprised. I knew I had good climbing legs but I had to stick with the best climbers in the world. I could cry I’m so happy, it’s just incredible.”
The Hungarian now leads by 11 seconds from Evenepoel, with the Belgian able to stick with the main favourites so far in his first race back from the fractured pelvis he sustained in Il Lombardia last year. Bernal is a further five seconds back in third, with EF Education-Nippo’s Carthy up to sixth, 38sec down, Martin in ninth at 47sec and Team BikeExchange’s Yates in 10th a further 2sec back.
After Landa and Bernal’s teammate Pavel Sivakov abandoned with broken bones on Wednesday night, Joe Dombrowski and François Bidard were also non-starters in the morning as the race continued to count the cost of the crash late on stage five.
“Yesterday was such a sad day with us losing Landa,” Mader said. “We decided to ride in his honour today.”