There was a smile on Vincenzo Nibali's face again, as the Italian took his first title of the season at Tour of Croatia. Bahrain-Merida's rider was accomplishing far cleverer race tactically than his first rival Jaime Roson Garcia of Caja Rural-Seguros right from the beginning of the last, sixth stage of the race, which took place on Sunday from Samobor to Zagreb. The route was 147 kilometres long and consisted two circlings around Zagreb's old centre.
Daily winner was UAE Team Emirates' sprinter Sacha Modolo, who reached the finish line in three hours, 16 minutes and 52 seconds. Nibali finished fourth with two seconds gap, while Roson ended in 11th place, nine seconds behind Modolo.
Dramatic events started to happen immediately after the race has started. Intermediate sprint situated at Sveta Nedjelja, only 3.6 kilometres far from starting line, has been won by no one else but Nibali, who dared to go for the victory over sprinting specialist of CSF Bardiani Nicola Ruffoni, two time stage winner this year at Tour of Croatia. Nibali's domestiques from Bahrain-Merida hurried ferociously in order to get to the point of intermediate sprint first, catching Roson and his teammates from Caja Rural-Seguros completely unprepared. Time bonus of three seconds enabled Nibali to overtake overall lead from Roson after no more but 4 kilometres on track. If Roson didn't lose a single second off Nibali until end, Italian would win nonetheless only due to what's been happening in couple of opening miles.
Nothing spectacular wasn't happening from first intermediate sprint until entering Zagreb's city centre. There was a huge breakaway compound of 15 riders, which split around 20 kilometres to go. Four riders formed temporary leading group, led by Trek – Segafredo man Marco Coledan.
About six kilometres to go, during first circling around the city centre and Old town, respective riders of Team Felbermayr – Simplon Wells and Nippo – Vini Fantini came up to dictate the pace of the race, before main group became solid and unified again some 1.5 kilometres to go. Decisive moment has happened then as the pair of UAE Team Emirates riders – Jan Polanc and Sacha Modolo – undertook great attack that resulted in convincing Modolo's win.
Nibali didn't make mistake similar to the early one of Roson, sticking his front wheel to Roson's bike all until the end. Although his teammates worked hard to enable him confortable position for final breakaway in last few kilometres, Roson proved not to be risen to the occasion struggling through narrow streets of Zagreb's city centre. At the end of the day, Nibali broke him away for additional seven seconds late in the race, ending it only two seconds off Modolo. Roson came nine seconds behind the winner.
Final green jersey, given as the reward for the best climbing achievement (King of the Mountain), may serve as a little consolation to young Spaniard. Nicola Ruffoni won overall points classification (blue jersey), while a pair of decorations went to Poles. Michal Schlegel was the owner of white jersey as the best young rider of Tour of Croatia, while his team, CCC Sprandi Polkowice, earned overall team ranking.