On today’s Valentine’s Day the peloton had to cover 175km from Aubagne up to La Ciotat including four demanding climbs and a total ascent of 2700m in climbing.
From the drop of the flag, the day’s breakaway formed as a trio went up the road. The escapees built up an advantage of several minutes over the pack, where Astana took over control of the pace together with two other teams.
The Kazakh team put in a strong effort to decrease the gap of the break, setting up for an attack on the last steep ascent. The gap was around two minutes as the race started to tackle the second last climb of the day, however the trio was caught with 23km to go, on the top of the penultimate ascent.
The race headed onto the final climb of the day, a steady 4,7km long and 7% steep climb, as several riders tried to attack. The Astana riders stayed in a good position at the front of the reduced bunch, waiting for the final kilometers to launch an attack. As two riders tried to go clear, Aleksandr Vlasov managed to bridge across and increased the pace. The Russian champion was able to distance himself from the pack. In a masterpiece of cycling, the young rider rode solo to glory, taking the team’s first victory of the season. Alexey Lutsenko made the team’s effort even more perfect by taking third place.
- I am so happy with this stage win. It is my first season with Astana and therefore the win now is something really special for me. We were together on the climb to protect Lutsenko, and as the two guys attacked I bridge across to close the gap and then, as I saw I had a gap I just went full gas. To now be wearing now the leader’s jersey is really great, I am so happy. I also want to say thank you to my team for the trust they gave me. Of course, we will try to do our best in the upcoming days to keep the jersey. – Aleksandr Vlasov
With this stage win, Vlasov now leads three classifications, the general, sprint and the youth classification of the Tour de la Provence.
- It was a really good day for us. What we planned worked out, the guys followed our instructions. They worked very well at the front of the peloton, put in a strong effort the whole day. Today the teamwork was on point. Also, the attack with Vlasov at the end and the control in the back with Lutsenko and Aranburu worked out perfectly. For the first race with young and new riders, I think we are really on a good way. Tomorrow the Mont Ventoux is waiting and Vlasov is a good climber, so we will give our best. I am really happy with the victory and congrats to the whole team for today’s effort. – said Dmitriy Fofonov
Tomorrow the third stage will take the peloton up to the Mount Ventoux/Chalet Reynard. A 140km tough stage starting in Istres, with Vlasov in the leader’s jersey.
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