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With another dominant uphill sprint, Colbrelli beat Gavazzi and Feillu in the uphill sprint on the final stage of the Tour du Limousin; Rosskopf took the overall win with a 1-second advantage over Colbrelli

Photo: Sirotti














19.08.2016 @ 19:39 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) continued his excellent return to form after a difficult summer by making it two in a row on the final stage of the Tour du Limousin. In another uphill sprint made for his characteristics, he easily held off Francesco Gavazzi (Androni) and Romain Feillu (Auber 93) to take the third win of the season. However, he just missed out on the overall win which went to Joey Rosskopf (BMC) with a 1-second advantage over the Bardiani leader, with Hubert Dupont (Ag2r) rounding out the podium.


In 2014, Sonny Colbrelli emerged as one of the best uphill sprinters in the world. The Italian claimed numerous wins in tough Italian one-day races and even earned leadership in the Italian team for the Worlds in Ponferrada.


Health issues destroyed most of his 2015 season but when he finally returned to form, it happened in a race tailor-made for his characteristics. The lumpy Tour du Limousin has always suited to puncheurs and last year Colbrelli proved his class by winning a stage and the overall in the French race.


This year Colbrelli hoped to defend his title in the stage race that suits him the most but a combination of a crash in the Giro and a bout of pneumonia made his preparation far from ideal. Hence, he wasn’t too concerned when a break made it to the finish on stage 1 and all but ended his hopes for a repeat win.


However, Colbrelli surprised himself yesterday when he turned out to be in a class of his own in the uphill sprint on the queen stage and today he confirmed his excellent form by crushing the opposition in another puncheur finish on the final stage. The Italian must now be left wondering what might have been as he ended the race in second overall, just one second behind Joey Rosskopf who took the biggest win of his short career.



After yesterday’s queen stage, it was time for the traditional and very tough final stage. At 185.3km, the course between Saint-Leonard-de-Niblat and Limoges was the longest of the race and it was the typical lumpy affair. There were two early category 3 climb – 2.8km at 3.5% and 2.8km at 4.5% respectively – and another climb (4.4km, 3%) with 48.5km to. However, the main action was expected to unfold during the final three laps of the well-known 12km circuit where it all ended on an uphill finishing straight of 1000m.


The riders had sunny conditions and 23-degree temperatures when they gathered for the start and there were no non-starters as they rolled through the neutral zone. As expected, there were attacks right from the start and the fast pace made it difficult for anyone to get clear.


While Filippo Pozzato (Wilier) fought his way back to the peloton after a puncture, Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and David Menut (Auber 93) managed to get a small lead and they were quickly joined by Jeremy Leveau (Roubaix), Damien Gaudin (Ag2r), Olivier Le Gac (FDJ), Miguel Angel Benito (Caja Rural), Delio Fernandez (Delko), Jeremy Cornu (Direct Energie), Thomas Sprengers (Topsport Vlaanderen), Marco Minnaad (Wanty) and Romain Le Roux (Armee) to make it a front group of 11 riders. They worked hard to build an advantage of 35 seconds before the peloton before the peloton sat up.


At the 27km mark, the 11 leaders had a gap of 3.20 and that was the signal for BMC to take control. When Le Roux beat Minnaard and Sprengers in the first KOM sprint, the American team led the bunch to the top 3.15 later.


The riders covered 40.5km during the first hour and BMC made sure that the pace didn’t drop. They worked tirelessly on the front and had reduced the gap to just 2.24 when Sprengers beat Le Roux and Fernandez in the first intermediate sprint.


The peloton slowed down a bit and so the escapees again had an advantage of 3.05 when Le Roux led Minnaard and Le Gac over the top of the second climb. As BMC didn’t get any help, it even went out to 3.30 as they hit the final 85km.


Le Roux beat Sprengers and Fernandez in the second intermediate sprint where the peloton arrived 3.05 later before a dramatic highlight occurred. The riders were forced to stop at a closed railroad crossing but the race was soon restarted with a gap of 2.35.


After three hours of racing at an average speed of 39.6km/h, Sprengers beat Fernandez and Le Roux in the final intermediate sprint, meaning that the latter secured the win in the sprints competition. Meanwhile, the peloton accelerated significantly and that made it hard for best young rider Diego Rubio (Caja Rural) to rejoin the peloton after a puncture.


When Le Roux beat Minnaard and Fernandez in the third KOM sprint with 48km to go, the peloton was only 1.55 behind and the gap had dropped to just 45 seconds when they hit the final 35km. That forced the front group to react and as a consequence, both Le Roux and Cornu were distanced.


Le Gac launched a strong solo attack and as BMC started to lose riders, he managed to pushe the advantage out to 1.25. However, Bardiani soon took over the pace setting and while Le Gac was brought back, the Italian team reduced the gap to just 35 seconds at the start of the penultimate lap.


The gap stabilized around the 30-second mark before Le Gac again took off in a solo move. He stayed clear for a few kilometres with a 15-second advantage but the group was back together with 15km to go.


While the peloton lost lots of riders on the tough circuit, Shalunov launched the next attack and he was the lone leader at the start of the final lap. The rest of the break was brought back just after the passage of the line but Sahlunov dug deep to maintain an advantage of 12 seconds.


The peloton exploded as they entered the final 10km and race leader Joey Rosskopf now only and one teammate at his side in the 30-rider group that had been formed.  They brought Shalunov back with 7km to go.


Surprisingly, Rosskopf went on the attack but the peloton refused to let him go as Movistar had now taken control. The Spanish team led the bunch into the final 5km before they sent Giovanni Visconti off in an attack.


Andrea Fedi (Wilier) joined Visconti to make it an Italian dup that managed to open an 8-second advantage with 2km to go. They still had a small advantage as they passed the flamme rouge but their efforts were ultimately in vain. The pair was brought and it all came down to an uphill sprint. Here Colbrelli turned out to be the fastest as he held Francesco Gavazzi and Romain Feillu off in the final dash to the line.


Rosskopf finished safely in the bunch and as Colbrelli failed to score any bonus seconds in the intermediate sprints, he beat the Italian by one second in the overall standings. Hubert Dupont was four seconds behind in third.


Flavien Dassonville (Auber) won the mountains competition and Le Roux took the sprints jersey. Rubio was the best young rider and Androni won the teams classification.


With the Tour du Limousin done and dusted, attention turns to the next big stage race, the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, which kicks off on Tuesday.



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