- Right from the beginning, it was possible to get in the break, which is normally more difficult. I was the last one who joined the other three. I heard in the radio that it was a good opportunity, so we all worked together and had a good colloboration. My watts were good and my legs were feeling good as well, so I thought my race is good and I will try to go for it. On the final climb, they asked me to go slower and on that point I decided to attack. I knew the final part would be technical, so it was not easy for the peloton. I was already thinking I could do it, so I tried everything to stay clear. The dream was to get the stage victory, but I’m still happy with this result. - Nikita Stalnov.
- A great ride by Nikita Stalnov today, really a big effort to stay in the front for so long. Today, I was feeling good, but I couldn’t make it into the top 10 as it was a hard sprint to the finish line. But that’s ok for me, as the most important thing is that I’m feeling good after the training camp we had and this being my first race since the classic season. - Michael Valgren.
Straight from the start in Montbrison, Nikita Stalnov took off together with three other riders to create the day’s breakaway at this 181-kilometer-long stage to Belleville. The peloton let them go, not knowing that they wouldn’t see Stalnov back before the final kilometer of the stage. The group of four riders had a maximum advantage on the peloton of 6 minutes, but going into the final the gap decreased quickly.
In the final 10 kilometers, Nikita Stalnov decided he didn’t want to get caught yet, and attacked. With an incredible effort, he was able to stay in front of the chasing peloton until 900 meters before the finish. From that point it was up to the sprinters who were able to sprint slightly uphill. Pascal Ackermann was the strongest sprinter of the day, claiming the victory. Michael Valgren and Hugo Houle finished twelfth and fourteenth. Daryl Impey is the new GC leader, as Michael Kwiatkowski was not able to sprint for seconds due to a crash in the final.
Another challenging day follows after today, as the team will be riding the Team Time Trial from Pont-de-Vaux to Louhans-Chateaurenaud (35 kilometers).
Photo credit: Bettiniphoto