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Neo-pro Julian Alaphilippe won the final stage of the Tour de l’Ain while Bert-Jan Lindemann just about held on to the overall lead to win the race.

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele

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JULIAN ALAPHILIPPE

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16.08.2014 @ 16:47 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Neo-pro Julian Alaphilippe won the final stage of the Tour de l’Ain while Bert-Jan Lindemann just about held on to the overall lead to win the race.

 

An early breakaway on the final stage of the Tour de l’Ain was established that included Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp), Guillaume Levarlet (Cofidis), Carlos Verona (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement). 

 

An AG2R and Rabobank Development team kept them at a 3’10 gap at maximum in order to ensure they didn’t lose any overall chances.

 

There were 7 categorised climbs in the 130km stage from Nantua to Arbent.

 

The first climb was won by Slagter ahead of Feillu and Levarlet, the second by Verona ahead of Slagter and Feillu while Verona also won the third climb ahead of Slagter and Levarlet.

 

After the third climb, Slagter found himself dropped and he faded back to the peloton before being dropped eventually by them too. 

 

BigMat-Auber 93 duo Frederic Brun and Pierre Goualt began to bridge over with Jordi Simon of Team Ecuador and they began to gain time on the peloton. It took a hard 20km chase but they made the bridge just before the summit of the day’s fourth climb and Simon led Brun, Feillu, Levarlet and the rest of the group over the summit of the third category Arnans climb.

 

They worked well and made it onto the Thoringa climb with a minute advantage to the peloton.

 

Just as the breakaway crested the summit of the Thorigna won by Simon ahead of Feillu and Verona, Bardet unleashed an attack to put leader Lindemann in danger. Bardet needed 57 seconds to take the race lead. Bardet was joined by Romain Sicard (Europcar), Dan Martin (Garmin) and best young rider Julian Alaphilippe (OPQS).

 

They gained a gap and as the breakaway started the penultimate climb of the Matafelon, they had a 13 second lead over the Bardet group and the junction was made soon after. Instantly the pace was too high for Brun who dropped off the leading group. Bardet crested the Matefalon first ahead of Martin and Simon.

 

Lindemann’s group kept working and had already reduced the gap to just 35 seconds, enough to keep the Dutchman in the race lead. FDJ led the Lindemann group and it soon became apparent why when Kenny Elissonde made his attack.

 

This left Lindemann, who now sat 53 seconds behind Bardet, to do all the work on his own, and he did just that, dragging the gap down to 40 seconds. It was this huge effort from the Dutchman that prompted Dan Martin to make his move, leaving all of his companions behind and prompting Goualt to drop off from Bardet’s group. Martin had a 13 second advantage at the top of the final climb, ahead of Bardet and Feillu.

 

Martin quickly gained a gap of 19 seconds from the Bardet group and Lindemann now only sat at 34 seconds behind Bardet.

Martin’s chances of stage victory were ruined by Lindemann chasing Bardet, forcing the Frenchman to up the pace in his group which caught Martin with less than 4km remaining.

 

Heading to the line, the pace was fast and Sicard, Alaphilippe, Martin and Bardet dropped their more tired breakaway members.

With the big efforts that Bardet and Martin made, there was nothing they could do when the fast finishing Frenchman Alaphilippe launched his sprint/attack. He beat Martin into second and his teammate Verona, who had almost single handedly dragged his group back to the leaders was third. 

 

Alaphilippe was so fast that he won the stage by 5 seconds, his sprint was that strong.

 

Lindemann was rewarded for his epic efforts in the chase when he finished 43 seconds behind Bardet, meaning he wins the overall by 11 seconds.

 

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