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Colombian beats Martinez and Feillu in flat first stage of mountainous French race to finally open his account in his first season as a Colombia rider




10.08.2013 @ 18:10 Posted by Asser H. Pelle

Leonardo Duque (Colombia) won the expected mass sprint in the first stage of the Tour de l'Ain as he held off young sensation Yannick Martinez (La Pomme Marseille) and Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil) in the final dash to the line. Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) worked for teammate Andrew Fenn in the sprint but finished safely in the bunch to defend his leader's jersey.


Leonardo Duque was one of the marquee signings of the Colombia team prior to this season but until today the Colombian had been unable to deliver the goods for the big team from his home country. Today he finally took his first win in his new black colours when the seasoned professional won the bunch sprint in the first stage of the Tour de l'Ain.


In the final dash to the line, Duque held off Yannick Martinez who continues to impress and seems to be destined for a big future as a sprinter on the WorldTour level. Roman Feilly finally found back his best sprinting legs by finishing 3rd while pre-race favourites Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) and Bryan Coquard (Europcar) finished far behind.


Gianni Meersman worked for teammate Andrew Fenn in the sprint and while he may have been disappointed that the Brit was only able to take 6th, he may console himself with the fact that he defended the leader's jersey. He remains equal on time with teammate Dries Devenyns ahead of tomorrow's second stage which has a late climb but a flat finish should make it suitable for some kind of sprint finish that could suit Meersman.


Two riders make up the early escape

Following yesterday's short prologue, the race kicked off for real with a flat 156km stage that was destined to end in a bunch sprint. With all moves already doomed, there was no big fight to get into the early break and Alexis Guerin (France U23) and Cyril Patoux (Roubaix) were allowed to go clear already inside the first kilometre.


Those to riders were allowed to build up a gap of around 3.30 before FDJ started to control the pace. Francis Mourey did most of the early work as he tried to set up Bouhanni for the win. Europcar and Omega Pharma-Quick Step both chipped in occasionally but it was Mourey who spent by far the most time on the front.


Mourey does a lot of work

The gap was allowed to go up to 4 minutes before Mourey gradually started to bring it down. Up ahead, the front group battled it out for the mountains jersey on the day's only climb and Patoux earned the right to wear that tunic tomorrow.


With less than 30km to go, FDJ had brought the gap down to less than 1 minute and this prompted Patoux to leave Guerin behind. The young Frenchman fell back into the peloton and with 12km to go, it was also over for his former companion.


Europcar had now taken control in the peloton for Coquard and the French team reeled in a late attempt from Geoffroy Lequatre (Bretagne). Hence, it was all set for a big bunch sprint as the peloton powered under the flamme rouge at high speed. Here Duque showed that he still knows how to sprint by holding off Martinez and Feillu in the final dash to the line.



1. Leonardo Duque 3.45.23

2. Yannick Martinez

3. Romain Feillu

4. Nikolas Maes

5. Steele Von Hoff

6. Andrew Fenn

7. Fabio Felline

8. Julian Alaphilippe

9. Nacer Bouhanni

10. Rick Zabel


General classification:

1. Gianni Meersman 3.50.54

2. Dries Devenyns

3. Arnaud Gerard +0.01

4. Stef Clement +0.02

5. Leonardo Duque

6. Tom-Jelte Slagter

7. Fabio Felline

8. Adrien Petit +0.03

9. Mathias Brandle

10. Nikolas Maes +0.04



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