Posted by Editoress on 07/23/16
Stage 6 of the 2016 Tour de l'Abitibi saw the leader board completely revised, with most of the top-10 in the overall standings replaced. Three of the four leader's jerseys also changed hands. Quinton Disera (Centurion Next Wave) took the stage win, while Nickolas Zuckowsky (Team Canada) moved into the Brown Jersey of race leader. Team Canada also moved into the overall lead in the Team Classification.
The 109 kilometre stage, which described a counterclockwise loop beginning and ending in Rouyn-Noranda started normally enough, with an early break in the first ten kilometres by Zukowsky and team mate Matthew Staples. "We were just going for some bonus seconds," explained Zukowsky, who was sitting 12th in the standings and hoping to move back into the top-10.
However, a group of over 20 riders rolled off the front and joined the two Canadians, with Team USA and Denmark seemingly not paying much attention, even though they held the top nine spots in the overall classification, and neither had a single rider in the break.
"I think they [Team USA] weren't expecting this, and it took quite a while for them and the Danes to figure it out, so we were able to gain quite a bit of time on them. I think it worked out pretty good. Team USA and Denmark ... that's a lot of firepower, but we'll do our best to keep the Brown Jersey."
The front group put their heads down and began to run a smooth and solid pace line into the head and cross winds, steadily opening a gap on the peloton. Team USA was the first to recognize the danger, with race leader Brandon McNulty going to the front. However, the Danish team, for unknown reasons, did not help with the chase, and one team was not going to pull back 25 committed riders.
The gap reached a maximum of 2:40, making Zukowsky the leader on the road by 90 seconds, since he started the day 1:10 back on McNulty. By the time the bunch entered the 3.7 kilometre finishing circuit for three laps they had started to whittle the gap back, down to two minutes, but at the finish line they were still too far back, putting Zukowsky into the lead by 19 seconds ahead of McNulty. Breakaway member Brian Sciba (Southeastern Regional) moved up to third at 29 seconds. The next six riders previously in top GC positions were bumped by members of the breakaway, with Ian Garrison (Team USA) dropping to ninth from second and Morten Hulgaard (Denmark) dropping from third to tenth.
Disera - who moved up to sixth in the GC - easily took the sprint with an impressive effort from the final corner, followed by Eugene Kakizaki (Japan) and Michael Carswell (New Zealand).
In the Jerseys changes - Kakizaki takes the Blue Jersey as Best First Year Junior, with Antoine Ippersiel (Stingray Trek Lacasse) moving into the Polka Dot Climber's Jersey (tied on points with former holder Hayden Strong of New Zealand). The only rider to keep his jersey is Luca Grall of France, who remains the leader in the Points competition.
This makes Sunday's final stage particularly interesting, with Team Canada up against Team USA, as McNulty will try to take back those 19 seconds, to avoid finishing second for the second year in a row. The 99.9 kilometre stage starts in Sainte-Germaine-Boulé, 55.5 kilometre north of Rouyn-Noranda. The riders head south to R-N, and will then finish the race off with 12 laps of the 3.7 kilometre finishing circuit.