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Slovenian survives late climb to win the sprint from a 46-rider group ahead of Felline and Wegmann while Felline takes over the lead from teammate Meersman

Photo: Sirotti

TOUR DE L'AIN

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VACANSOLEIL-DCM PRO CYCLING TEAM

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11.08.2013 @ 16:47 Posted by Simon Knudstrup

Grega Bole (Vacansoleil) proved that he is much more than just a pure sprinter by getting over the late category 1 climb in the second stage of the Tour de l'Ain before launching a devastating sprint to take the win ahead of Fabio Felline (Androni) and Fabian Wegmann (Garmin). Race leader Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick) was less successful as he fell off the pace, allowing Felline to take over the leader's jersey.

 

Vacansoleil is in desperate search for a sponsor but just as the team needs it most, its riders have finally started winning bike races. Kenny Van Hummel won the first stage of the Arctic Tour of Norway on Thursday and today Grega Bole took another victory for the team in the second stage of the Tour de l'Ain.

 

Then fast Slovenian is known as a strong climber and he lived up to his reputation by being one of only a select few sprinters to make it over the late category 1 climb in the lead group. When the Belkin team reeled in the remnants of the early break, Bole was the rider to benefit the most as he held off Fabio Felline and Fabian Wegmann in the final dash to the line.

 

Race leader Gianni Meersman was unable to keep up with the best on the steep slopes and fell back to ultimately lose 3.10. Instead, Fabio Felline stepped onto the podium to put on the leader's jersey, having taken the lead by virtue of bonus seconds.

 

Felline faces a tough jersey defence tomorrow when the race heads into the mountains. Two category 1 climbs precede the final climb up to the finish in Lelex Monts-Jura and we should see the first separation among the overall contenders ahead of Tuesday's queen stage.

 

4 riders form the early break

The short 149,3km stage was almost entirely flat but contained the hard Col du Berthiand (6,7km, 6,8%) just 20km from the finish line. A fast descent preceded a flat run-in to the finish.

 

From the gun, Matthias Brändle (IAM), Rudy Barbier (Roubaix), Steven Tronet (BigMat) and Bert-Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil) escaped and those four riders were allowed to build up a big gap that reached its maximum of 7.30 after 70km of racing. Behind Omega Pharma-Quick Step were setting a modest pace to defend Meersman's jersey.

 

French teams chase

FDJ decided to start the chase and the French team put Francis Mourey on the front as they had did for most of the previous stage. His hard work paid off as the gap started to come down.

 

Later Cofidis also decided to assist in the chase as Jerome Coppel was one of the riders to do some of the early work and Ag2r also decided to chip in, Romain Bardet rolling along on the front. As Cofidis led the peloton onto the lower slopes of the main climb, the gap had come down to just 3 minutes.

 

The group splits up

Lindeman set a hard pace in the front group and so Barbier and later also Tronet fell off the pace. Behind, Europcar's Pierre Rolland was setting a fierce pace that forced many riders to lose contact with the main group, Meersman being one of those.

 

As the break crested the summit, they were only 45 seconds ahead of Darwin Atapuma (Colombia) who made a small attack to pick up KOM points. A 31-rider peloton made it over the top and was chased by a 17-rider group with Meersman being even further behind.

 

Belkin driving the pace

Belkin was now driving the pace to keep the chasers at bay and that spelled the end for the front duo. With 7km to go, it was back together as the 17-rider chase group also rejoined the main group.

 

Belkin kept the pace high as they approached the finish but Pierre-Luc Perrichon (Bretagne) and Stephane Rossetto (BigMat) both tried to deny the sprinters the win. The latter was caught as they passed the flamme rouge and so all was set for a big sprint finish.

 

Bole emerged as the fastest as he held off Felline and Wegmann in the final dash to the line. The Italian could console himself with the fact that his bonus seconds were enough to move him into the overall lead on the eve of the first mountains stage.

 

Result:

1. Grega Bole 3.35.04

2. Fabio Felline

3. Fabian Wegmann

4. Yannick Martinez

5. Pieter Serry

6. Wout Poels

7. Riccardo Chiarini

8. Alex Howes

9. Romain Bardet

10. Bruno Pires

 

General classification:

1. Fabio Felline 7.25.54

2. Dries Devenyns +0.04

3. Arnaud Gerard +0.05

4. Stef Clement +0.06

5. Tom-Jelte Slagter

6. Mathias Brandle +0.07

7. Jerome Coppel +0.09

8. Grega Bole +0.11

9. Sergio Paulinho

10. Mathieu Boulo +0.13

 

Points classification:

1. Fabio Felline 34

2. Yannick Martinez 34

3. Grega Bole 27

4. Leonardo Duque 25

5. Dries Devenyns 16

 

Mountains classification:

1. Bert-Jan Lindeman 20

2. Matthias Brändle 13

3. Darwin Atapuma 7

4. Steven Kruijswijk 5

5. Cyrille Patoux 5

 

Youth classification:

1. Natnael Berhane 7.26.08

2. Kenny Elissonde +0.08

3. Merhawi Kudos +0.11

4 Diego Ochoa +0.12

5. Guillaume Martin +0.14

 

Teams classification:

1. Belkin 22.18.09

2. Saxo-Tinkoff +0.11

3. Vacansoleil +0.16

4. Androni +0.18

5. IAM +0.19

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