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"The last 20km were very difficult to defend that leader’s jersey, but with the luck of the bonus seconds on my side I won with the smallest margin. I am very relieved and delighted to take home the jersey.”

Photo: Sirotti

TOUR DE L'AIN

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
13.08.2016 @ 21:37 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Defending champion Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) finally got his season back on track when he came out in a very hectic and active final stage of the Tour de l’Ain. After Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal) and Marcel Wyss (IAM) were caught inside the final kilometre, he emerged as the fastest in a select group of climbers, holding off Romain Hardy (Cofidis) and Bart De Clercq (Lotto Soudal). Hardy was later relegated due to irregular sprinting. Sam Oomen (Giant-Alpecin) finished seventh and took overall victory ahead of De Clercq and Pierre Latour (Ag2r).

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Triumphant Sam Oomen: I really had luck on my side

Sam Oomen (NED) has won the Tour de L'Ain after a difficult and aggressive final stage, defending his leadership throughout continual attacks on the Col du Grand Colombier and preceding climbs to finish with the leaders and retain the yellow jersey. 

 

The 132km stage got underway in Lagnieu, and with three climbs – the Cote du Corlier, Col de la Rochette and Col du Grand Colombier – on the parcours before the finish in Belley, it was sure to be an aggresive race. Sure enough the attacks came, with a number of riders looking to turn around the advantage that Oomen had pulled out with his stage win on stage 3. The peloton, always containing Oomen, was much reduced by the Col du Grand Colombier and preceding climbs as they fought to contain the attackers up the road, but on the final run-in it all came back together, allowing Oomen to finish in the front group and retain the overall race lead.

 

Coach Arthur van Donger said after the stage: “It was a thriller today, which ended in an incredible victory. Sam had a very hard time on the Grand Colombier, but managed to limit his losses and rejoin the front. The differences on the line were extremely small but it was enough for the overall win. It’s a great achievement by Sam and the team.”

 

Sam Oomen added: “It was very tough today as they attacked me for the entire stage. At one point on the ascent of the Grand Colombier I was isolated due to the attacks. I went over the summit with a small gap and was able to come back [to the leaders]. The last 20km were very difficult to defend that leader’s jersey, but with the luck of the bonus seconds on my side I won with the smallest margin. I am very relieved and delighted to take home the jersey.”

 

"The day was very, very difficult,” he told Directvelo. “From the beginning of the stage, there was an overwhelming heat. I had to try to control all the attacks of my opponents in the GC. On the Grand Colombier, it was really complicated: Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Soudal) and Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) managed to get ahead, nearly 30 seconds. I did not manage to follow them. They were really the best climbers today. It was not an insurmountable gap but it took a long time to get back. The last 20 kilometers were also complicated and finally I am very lucky to win the GC because in the game of bonuses, De Clercq and Latour could even win the GC in the final sprint. Finally, I won and I am now happy and relieved. "
 

Alexandre Geniez back on track with focus on Vuelta stage win

Alexandre Geniez (FDJ)  won the stage.
 

"It was a comeback race for me,” Geniez told Directvelo. “I was into the unknown. My training had been very mixed. I did not set myself a pre-race goal. That's why I slipped in the break on the first day even though I knew it was impossible. I tried to make efforts the next day because I felt that I had recovered well. Then the goal was to take a step on the last two days.

 

”Today, when we caught the three attackers, everyone slowed down a little bit. Cofidis had two riders. They controlled the group. The course was not difficult enough to make differences.

 

”I'm very happy to win because I had a difficult start to the season. I have had bad luck since the beginning of May. It is a reward for the work of three months. 

 

”Now I will continue with the Vuelta. I will go there to win a stage. That's why it's important to have won a race before going to Spain.”

 

Bart De Clercq: I really thought it was possible to win the race

Lotto Soudal again rode a very aggressive race. Louis Vervaeke showed his climbing skills on the Col du Colombier as he was part of a breakaway group. The young Vervaeke was even the sole leader for a few kilometres and several moments later his teammate Bart De Clercq joined him. Unfortunately, Vervaeke was dropped just before the summit. In the meantime, some other riders managed to bridge the gap to the front of the race, but after the descent, a junction was made between the front group and the chasing GC group. Among others Maxime Monfort and Bart De Clercq tried to go clear in the final kilometres, but unfortunately they did not succeed as a sprint with a small group took place. Alexandre Geniez was the fastest, Bart De Clercq finished second due to the disqualification of Romain Hardy.

 

Lotto Soudal really showed their abilities in this stage race as they rode very aggressively. Tosh Van der Sande obtained his first win as a professional cyclist in the second stage and also Bart De Clercq has shown that he was in great shape during the two hard mountain stages. The 29-year old climber finished second in the GC at one second from the leader and took the win in the mountains classification, which is a stunning performance. Also Maxime Monfort finished in the top ten: ninth at 52 seconds. The team has shown that it’s ready for the Vuelta a España, the last Grand Tour of the cycling season.

 

"As soon as we got 30-35 seconds on the descent of the Grand Colombier, I thought it was really possible to win the stage and therefore the overall standings,” De Clercq told Diretvelo. “With Latour and Gaudu, we really rode well and managed to create the gap. Unfortunately, we were caught but I knew there was a chance to win with the bonus seconds even though I was far from being the best sprinter in the group. I did fairly well in the end (second), but unfortunately this is not enough. "

 

Sports director Frederik Willems added:

 

“This morning, the aim was to take first place in the general classification. The team set a high pace on the first climb of the day, therefore several riders were dropped. After that we tried to ride aggressively: Louis Vervaeke accelerated on the Col du Grand Colombier, several moments later Bart De Clercq joined him. It’s a pity that Louis wasn’t able to follow Bart up to the summit. At about ten kilometres from the finish, a junction was made in the front of the race. Maxime Monfort did some great work in the chasing group and eventually that group made it to the front. Finally, Bart rode a very decent sprint and he finished at the second place. He was very close to take the overall victory but that’s cycling.

 

“The team really showed that it’s ready for the Vuelta a España. We had two main goals in this stage race; trying to obtain a stage win and finishing on the GC podium. That turned out very well and we also rode a very aggressive race. Our team is at its best in such races. The entire team that is here will participate in the Vuelta, I’m sure that every rider will start the final Grand Tour of the year with a positive feeling.”

 

Guillaume Martin: This fourth place confirms my potential

Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Grouper Gobert) finished fourth overall
 

"There is no change in the GC but that does not mean that the day was quiet,” he told Directvelo. “Lotto-Soudal blew the race apart before the Grand Colombier. I did not feel great when they turned on the screws.

 

”However, it was better on the Grand Colombier. I tried to attack. Then I was a little frustrated. De Clercq attacked before the summit of the Grand Colombier. I stayed at 10 meters ... I could not close the gap. I have no regrets. But when Pierre Latour and David Gaudu attacked, I reacted too late. I found myself in lone chase. At the top of the Grand Colombier, I was frustrated at not being with them. I had the legs.

 

”I worked in the valley. It's a shame to chase French riders but everyone has his own jersey and must make his race. Maybe I took too big turns but it was the price to pay. 
 

”My result at the Tour of Austria (2nd) was ignored because it was during the Tour de France, so I'm happy to confirm it here. There was a beautiful level here, many riders who prepare for the Vuelta.

 

“The balance is positive. I want to use those legs to raise the arms before the end of the season. I will continue on Tuesday with the Tour du Limousin. I'll try to be more aggressive and opportunistic there. After Plouay, I will be at the Tour of Britain where the course should suit me.” 
 

Marcel Wyss close to emulating Pantano on final day in Ain

Marcel Wyss took an excellent 5th place in the final stage of the Tour de L'Ain. Wyss, who comes from the Bern region of Switzerland, proved that he has good form, which is fantastic news with just a week to go to the start of the Vuelta, where he should most likely be lining up with his team leader and friend, Mathias Frank.

 

“I was not able to imitate Pantano’s success, but this 5th place gives me the confidence and the high morale that I need to head into the next goals for the season,” he said.

 

“I managed to rejoin the favorites on the descent of the Grand Colombier. Then we attacked with Maxime Monfort. A guy from the Movistar team managed to bridge up, and finally the small group with the yellow jersey. Unfortunately, I am still not a sprint specialist.

 

“Once again, the guys have done a great job, as they have done since the beginning of the Tour de l'Ain," confirmed Thierry Marichal, directeur sportif for the team, along with Rubens Bertogliati. “We managed to hold fast on the climb of the Grand Colombier. Marcel Wyss is a good descender and stuck to the group of favorites. He then took the initiative to attack. Though he did not net the win for his efforts, he did grab a nice spot in the top-10. This is encouraging for the future.”

The founder of IAM Cycling Michel Thétaz. has joined the team for the final stage of the Tour de l'Ain. And the riders endeavored to give him the sort of enjoyment and success that he had recently when Jarlinson Pantano masterfully won the stage of the Tour de France into Culoz.

 

French U23 rider targets Tour de l’Avenir win after breakthrough in Ain

David Gaudu rode for the French U23 team and took a breakthrough fifth place.

 

“I feel like there never was an easy moment throughout the day,” he told Diectvelo. “Lotto-Soudal set a huge tempo behind the break. I was trapped on the Col de la Rochette. I was in the second group but I managed to get in front before the summit of the climb.

 

”I was not great at the bottom of the Grand Colombier, I had trouble getting in to the rhythm. But after the village of Lochieu, it was much better. I managed my climb well. I knew that there were still 14km. Then there were attacks in the last five to six kilometers. I tried to go once, but I could not catch De Clercq. Then I attacked 2-3km from the top with Pierre Latour. On the descent, we caught Bart De Clercq to form a trio. But it was not enough. Behind us, they were strong.

 

”I took my chance with two kilometers to go but I did not have much in the legs after four days of racing. In the sprint, I tried to do what I could but I really had nothing! 

 

“I learned a lot. There were WorldTour teams and riders who have finished in the Top 10 of a Grand Tour. This week, I could see how they climb. It's a great experience to race with professionals. 

“My assessment is excellent. I had never climbed with professionals. My Tour de l’Ain gives me confidence for the Tour de l'Avenir. I'm reassured about my current state of form. I hope to keep this condition at the Tour de l'Avenir to go for GC.

“We're at the start to win the race. We have a great team. I won’t be the only leader leader. If I fail, we will have Leo (Vincent), Mathias (Le Turnier) and Aurelian (Paret-Peintre) who climb well. We will take stock after the first stages which are food for echelons and at the end of the first mountain stage. 
  
“On Sunday, we will check the time trial in Lugny (16.5 km). We will surely ride for an hour. Then I will do the French TT Championships on Thursday. And then it will soon be the start of the Tour de l'Avenir ...
 

Movistar neo-pro shows his potential with top 10 in Ain

The Movistar Team closed their participation in the Tour de l'Ain with a good display from Antonio Pedrero. The Catalan, already in front during yesterday's queen stage, shone again today on the Grand Colombier (HC), the main ascent in a short (132.2km), nervous trek between Lagnieu and Belley. After getting through La Rochette (Cat-2) in the yellow jersey group, Pedrero launched his first move 5km from the top of the last climb, and caught soon after, he tried his way across again with 10km remaining.

 

8 kilometers from the finish, the man from Terrassa caught Wyss (BMC) and Monfort (LTS) to get to the lead of the course. The trio was only caught in the final straight, as the group surrounding GC leader Sam Oomen (TGA) endedPedrero's adventure to contest what ended up being a tumultuous sprint. Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) narrowly won, with Pedrero in tenth spot, as Oomen secured his GC victory, Pedrero in 10th at 52 seconds.

 

The first stop of the Blues' journey through France in August also saw some early moves from Jorge Arcas, always helping his team-mates out, as well as Marc Soler who tried to get into the main breakaway. In turn, the Tour de l’Ain also brought stagiaire Richard Carapaz some racing form useful to keep the pace of the Laguía-led group's orders. Tomorrow the Spanish team will head to the Limousin, where the 49th edition of the region's Tour will see Jesús Herrada coming back for glory neglected in 2015 with his 2nd spot overall.

 

Late puncture consts Patrick Konrad top result in Tour de l’Ain

On the Col du Grand Colombier, known from the Tour de France, a bigger group also with the later stage winner Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) and Bora-Argon 18 rider Patrick Konrad gathered.  Unfortunately, Konrad was stopped by a puncture. For a long time, he tried to catch up to the leader’s group with the bunch. But the leading group was too fast so he couldn’t get back. Patrick Konrad finished some minutes behind stage winner Alexandre Geniez (FDJ).

 

“Patrick had one of his best races so far. On the Col du Grand Colombier he was in the group with the later stage winner. But sadly a puncture stopped him. And therefore he arrived some minutes behind the stage winner,” said sports director Christian Pömer.

 

Stölting talents show their potential on difficult day in Ain

The fourth and final day of the Tour de l’Ain (2.1) offered another hard stage. Lennard Kämna and Christian Mager rode very in the mountains, with Mager only narrowly missing the front group and finishing 14th.

The race was on from the start of the 132.2 km stage, and Lennard Kämna got away with 14 other riders after 10 km. But the group was chased down by Lotto Soudal and finally caught on the day’s second climb after 40 km.

 

On the long ascent to the Col du Grand Colombier, the peloton fell apart into many small groups; Christian Mager showed his strength and only narrowly missed the front group. The situation didn’t change significantly on the 30 flat kilometres to the finish in Belley, and Mager finished in 14th place, 56 seconds behind stage winner Alexandre Geniez (FDJ).

 

“When the break with Lennard was caught, the peloton was down to 30 riders,” said Sports Director André Steensen. “We had Christian and Lennard up there. Things got back together a bit on the descent, but then the race exploded completely on the Grand Colombier. Christian and Lennard rode very well here, Christian was 10th at the top, but on the descent he couldn’t follow Wyss and Monfort who bridged to the front. But he was second in the sprint of the chase group, and Lennard finished in the next big group. It was a great performance, really exceeding our expectations. They rode on a level with riders like Voeckler or Gesink, promising a lot for the future.”

 

Robert Gesink finishes the Tour de l'Ain with confidence

Robert Gesink finished 21st overall, and with confidence, in the Tour de l’Ain today. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s star left the French race, the first since his crash in the Tour de Suisse in June, with a positive feeling. Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) won the final stage, Sam Oomen (Giant - Alpecin) took home the overall victory.

 

Team LottoNL-Jumbo showed its aggressiveness in the first part of the final stage with Steven Lammertink and Victor Campenearts. Lammertink was part of the first breakaway, but his escape failed to gain much space with Lotto-Soudal controlling the tempo for the overall win. At the foot of the Colombière, Victor Campenaerts broke away.

 

“He didn’t get more than 40 seconds of advantage,” Sports Director Nico Verhoeven said. “Victor survived the climb quite well and went along with Robert Gesink on the descent. They did a good job today.”

 

Campenaerts and Gesink finished 22nd and 23rd in the stage, less than a minute behind stage winner Geniez.

 

“Robert feels very satisfied after this result,” Verhoeven added. “He sees that he’s improving, and that’s important. He had four days of race rhythm, his first sice the crash which resulted in more damage than we had expected. He didn’t worsen during the race. He still needs time before he’s able to fight for victories again, but he has definitely improved.”

 

Matteo Trentin optimistic for Hamburg after points jersey win in Ain

Attacks flew from the drop of the flag at kilometer zero on the final stage of the Tour de l'Ain, which started in Lagnieu and continued with the riders going over three classified climbs: Côte de Corlier, Col de la Rochette and Col du Grand Colombier, the iconic ascent of the race. The several accelerations which came from the bunch were firmly controlled for 30-odd kilometers, until 15 riders managed to get some space and leave the peloton behind. Among these there was also Matteo Trentin, but unfortunately for the 27-year-old, the move didn't stick once the road began to rise and he soon was back in the pack.

 

Other men then had a go immediately and managed to open a gap, which they maintained until the lower slopes of Col du Grand Colombier, Tour de l'Ain's final difficulty. Averaging 6.1% over 20.5 kilometers, the Hors Catégorie ascent had a huge impact on the yellow jersey group, which soon exploded, leaving many riders on their own, as the race began to evolve quickly.

 

Luxembourg champion and Giro d'Italia white jersey Bob Jungels went to the attack and made his way to the front, together with eight other riders, but that action also came to an end before the summit of Colombier.

 

Matteo Trentin arrived at the finish with the green jersey on his shoulders, that was in his possession since the opening day, and which he won, making it for the second time this season that he came out on top in the points standings of a stage race, following July's Tour de Wallonie:

 

"It was another tough day in the saddle, in which my goal was to successfully defend the green jersey, because I really wanted to take it home, especially after the hard work of my teammates in this race. I'm coming out of the Tour de l'Ain with confidence and a good form, which is encouraging for my next appointment, the Cyclassics Hamburg."

 

"The day was difficult as expected,” he told Directvelo. “I wanted do well in the intermediate sprint which I won. Then I was surprised to find myself in the first breakaway on the climb of the Côte de Corlier. I generally managed to keep pace with the race until the Grand Colombier. Then I finished with the gruppetto quietly. I won the green jersey: I'm very happy because it was the aim this morning. I want to thank the whole team who did a great job in the first two stages. "

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