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”It’s true that this victory gives me some confidence for the Vuelta a España. I already looked at the course and there are some possibilities. Every rider of our team at Tour de l’Ain will also...

Photo: Lotto Soudal


11.08.2016 @ 20:45 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) finally took what seems to be a long overdue first pro victory when he came out on top in a reduced bunch sprint on stage 2 of the Tour de l’Ain. The Belgian emerged as the fastest after his teammates had controlled the final 20km and managed to hold off Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Argon 18) and Antony Turgis (Cofidis) in the final dash to the line. Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep) had to settle for seventh but it was enough to retain the lead on a countback.


We have gathered a few reactions.


Tosh Van der Sande: This first win gives me confidence for the Vuelta

Tosh Van der Sande has won the second stage at Tour de l’Ain today. Van der Sande finished off a very strong team performance in the bunch sprint and therefore he obtained his first victory as a professional cyclist.


Mainly due to the efforts of Lotto Soudal, the pace was high in the peloton so nobody was able to go clear. The front group was eventually caught on the last climb of the day. After that, among others Jelle Wallays pulled at the front of the peloton. A few attempts were made in the final kilometres but the bunch sprint took place. Tosh Van der Sande strongly accelerated and he won the stage with a bike length’s advantage. The 25-year old sprinter managed to obtain his first victory. Van der Sande is now second on GC because of this stunning performance.


Van der Sande said: 


“I’m very happy with my first win as a professional cyclist of course. As a cyclist, you have to do a lot of training every day to try to obtain a nice result. I was very close several times the past five years, but today I was able to take the win. I already won a race in Vichte, although that one doesn’t really count for me.


”I worked very hard during the past years, my family and friends kept their faith in me. Also my girlfriend surrounded me well and she cooked really healthy. Thanks to all these things, I felt even better this season. That great feeling led to a fantastic victory today.


“I said to my teammates that I felt really good on the final climb of the day. They went full gas so no one was able to obtain a big gap in a hard finale. Everyone gave their all, especially Jelle Wallays. He rode at the front of the peloton during the final five kilometres.


”After that, FDJ set up a sprint train and I was able to position myself in that train. At 200 metres from the finish, I decided to begin my sprint and I had a lot of confidence that I would be able to win. That turned out well, although Schwarzmann came close.


”I’m now second on GC but I won’t aim for a good position on GC in this stage race. We have a few excellent climbers in our team and there are two tough stages yet to come. I’ll try to do as much work as possible for the team during the final two stages.


”It’s true that this victory gives me some confidence for the Vuelta a España. I already looked at the course and there are some possibilities. Every rider of our team at Tour de l’Ain will also be part of the line-up for the last Grand Tour of the year. We are really looking forward to showing ourselves!”


"I am delighted,” he told Directvelo. “This is my first professional victory. I work hard for this and finally it pays off. I felt great today, also on the last ascent. This passage was really hard but the team really helped me get through it. Then I started my sprint at the right time in the last 200 meters, and I really wanted to win to thank my team for the work.


“The design of the stage suited me well: small climbs followed by a sprint in small groups that are not too big. For me the last two stages will be more difficult. The ambition of the team was already to win a stage. It is now done. I hope that our climbers will go for the overall now.”

Bora-Argon 18 on the podium with another sprinter in Ain

Phil Bauhaus was dropped on the final climb. BORA – ARGON 18 supported Michael Schwarzmann in the sprint. The team’s “joker” showed once again his strength this year and finished in second place. He also moved up to 3rd in the GC.


“We thought that this would be a day for the GC guys, therefore we planned tactics around Patrick Konrad. But when the group was still around 80 riders, we had to switch to Michael. He did a great job again and we can be very happy with this second place today. Tomorrow will be a day for the GC for sure, so we will focus on our leader Patrick Konrad,” said Christian Pömer, sports director.


“We had 3 fast men in the final but lost each other in the last corner. I had to start my sprint from around 15th position, but I felt really good. In the end it was really close for the win, I had the highest speed but the line came too early for me. Still 2nd is a great result and the team did a great job again,” said Michael Schwarzmann.


Anthony Turgis continues great 2016 season with podium in Tour de l’Ain

"Julien Simon positioned me at the bottom of the second passage of Cote de Cessiat,” Anhtony Turgis told Directvelo after his third place. “It remained to do a good climb and a good descent. Then I wanted to stay in front not to get boxed in. In the end, I took the wheels of the riders of FDJ. I launched the sprint 200 meters from the line. 50 meters from the line I was passed by Tosh Van der Sande. I would have preferred to win but it's hard to win when you have fast riders in front of you.


“I felt really good in the Tour de Wallonie but I had some problems there. It was so frustrating. After the Clasica San Sebastian, I eased off a bit. I took a breather, I went to the mountains and then I trained in Brittany. I have average sensations but I think it will come back quickly. After the Tour de l'Ain, I will to to Hamburg and Plouay.”

His Cofidis teammate Rudy Molard attacked in the finale.


"I had not planned to attack in the finale,” he told Directvelo. “There was a moment of hesitation so I took advantage. Valentin Madouas joined me. I knew it would be complicated. The final was almost false flat downhill. We were caught two kilometers from the finish. I wanted to test the legs. They were good.


”It was not fast until we approached the climb. It was a special day. We have a good team for the next two days. We leave a good course in the mountains, we are motivated. This should be good tomorrow. I hope to have the legs to be in front.”


Disappointed Matteo Trentin: We paid for our hard work

The reduced bunch gallop saw Matteo Trentin finish seventh, a result which helped him hold onto the yellow jersey he took at the end of stage 1. In the overall rankings, Trentin is followed by Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal), Thursday's victor, and Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Argon 18). The Italian rider of Etixx – Quick-Step also leads the points classification, where he enjoys a nice cushion over the next rider, with two stages to go until the race draws the curtain.


"The guys worked hard and kept the peloton together. In the finale, we paid for our intense effort, because it's really difficult to control things with just six riders, and I found myself alone in the last kilometer. I tried to jump in the wheel of a train, but couldn't find any space to move once other things came to the front and made things crowded", explained Matteo Trentin after returning from his visit to the podium. "I tried to do my best, but I missed some luck, and I am a little bit disappointed for not repaying my teammates with a better result. At least I get to keep yellow for one more stage and from tomorrow, when we enter the big mountains, I will be ready to help the guys as much as I can.”


"The team rode on the front the whole stage and I cannot understand why no other team has taken responsibility,” he told Directvelo. “Therefore the team has given a lot and I found myself a little lonely in the sprint, so I decided to follow the train of Bora-Argon 18 which was very good yesterday. Unfortunately I struggled to get onto their train because I was not in a good position at the start. With a better place at the syatyed of the sprint I think I could have fought for victory. It's like that. Seventh is very disappointing especially since tomorrow is definitely not a stage for me.”

Juan Jose Lobato in the top 10 at the Tour de l’Ain

The first hills in this year's Tour de l'Ain - stage two, 173.2km between Saint-Didier-sur-Chalaronne and Montréal-la-Cluse - were covered under perfect conditions, temperatures barely getting over the 20s. That made for a slightly-softer-than-expected scenario, with an initial four-man escape - Grellier (DEN), Pereira (RLM), Combaud (DMP) and Spengler (SW )- caught with 20km remaining, on the last of two climbs of the Côte de Cossiat (Cat-3), where Madouas (FR) and Molard (COF) tried their luck. Their aspirations were over as they got caught with 2.5km to go.


Juanjo Lobato again got in the mix in the closing meters, yet Lotto Soudal controlled the pace again and centered their shot to perfection this time, with Tosh Van der Sande outsprinting Michael Schwarzmann (BOA) over the line. The Spaniard finished 8th - sits now 9th overall - as the rest of the Movistar Team saved as much energy as possible for Friday's demanding mountain day. Racing will start from Nantua and tackle five ascents before a mountain-top finish in Lélex Monts-Jura (141,4km). Climbers will take the lead as Richard Carapaz seeks for sensations in his first real test in this long month of August.


LottoNL-Jumbo: Tomorrow is the big test for Gesink

Victor Campenaerts finished 10th in the second stage of the Tour de l’Ain today. The second day in France ended up in a bunch sprint, which Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) won. Team LottoNL-Jumbo front man Robert Gesink, rebuilding after crash in the Tour de Suisse, came through the stage without any damage.


“The race had a classic scenario, like yesterday,” Sports Director Nico Verhoeven said. “Etixx - Quick Step took the matters in their hands and made sure that the race ended up in a bunch sprint with 100 riders. The final part of the race was a little harder than it was yesterday and we didn’t come out of it quite well. Victor Campenaerts managed 10th and Enrico Battaglin took 16th.


“The upcoming two days will be harder. Everyone has to deliver. I’m curious about how good we are going to be.


“With Robert Gesink, everything went fine another time today. These stages weren’t a real test for him, though. The first two days weren’t too long and not too heavy. The upcoming days will be for the general classification, then we will see how well he has recovered.”


Romain Lemarchand abandons the Tour de l’Ain

For Stölting, Christian Mager achieved a good 11th place.


Romain Lemarchand had to abandon the race after yesterday’s crash, as explained by Sports Director André Steensen:


“We knew that Romain wouldn’t be able to ride well with his injuries, he has to walk with crutches; so he abandoned early on. The stage was quite controlled, and our riders worked together well, I’m satisfied with that. Christian and Lennard [Kämna] were there in the final, with Lennard sacrificing himself for his teammate. Christian sat on the wheel of Samuel Dumoulin in the sprint, but ended up being boxed in.”


Delko rider takes mountains jersey in Tour de l’Ain

Romain Combaud (Delko Marseille-Provence KTM) took the mountains jersey.


"The last fifteen kilometers were not in favor of a small breakaway,” he told Directvelo. “It would have been preferable to have been a bigger group but still we played our trump card with my breakaway companions. I decided to try to get the mountains jersey. It feels good for the morale even though I know it will be difficult to defend the jersey when you know what’s coming. But why not try to be in a breakaway again before the end? My role is to support Rémy Di Gregorio and Delio Fernandez as best as possible. I have had a good season but I have rarely been notived. To be in front gives me much satisfaction. Last season I had good months in August and September: I hope it will be the same in 2016.”


Sam Oomen ready to go for GC at the Tour de l’Ain

For Team Giant-Alpecin, the aim was to be in a good position and to make sure all the riders finished safely in the bunch. The guys crossed the line in the main group with Sam Oomen the first rider for the team in 36th place.


Sam Oomen said: “I felt good all day and I didn’t have any difficulties on the climbs. The guys did a great job in the finale to protect me and I managed to finish safely in the front group. I am now looking forward to the next stages.”


Swiss talent shows himself at the Tour de l’Ain

Lukas Spengler (Switzerland U23) was the most aggressive rider.


"I wanted to try to escape today and I did,” he told Directvelo. “The break worked well and I'm still happy with my day. We did what we could and Etixx-Quick Step maintained a hard pace in front of the pack. Finally, I am pleased to win this combativity: it is rewarding. The last two stages are too hilly for me and I'll try to help my leaders.”



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