The three-day Tour of the Ain attracts big names this year. Both the toppers of Jumbo-Visma (with Roglic, Kruijswijk and the debuting Dumoulin) as the three musketeers of Ineos (Bernal, Froome and Thomas) are preparing for the Tour with their entourage.
But let’s not forget the other climbers. Just think of the Colombian Nairo Quintana, Fabio Aru, Joao Almeida and the duo Bauke Mollema and Richie Porte.
The few sprinters at the start only had the prospect of a victory today. The predominantly flat course and the 4 short climbs of 4th category in the first half of the race were perfectly survivable with sprinters legs.
After the start in Montréal-La-Cluse, a four-headed group of leaders quickly formed. Polish champion Michal Paluta (substitute for Serge Pauwels), Ivan Centrone, Martin Salmon and Alexys Brunel managed to keep their lead of up to 3 minutes until the last 20 km.
Centrone was the first to unload at the front due to an acceleration from Brunel. A little later he also paid for his action. From the peloton, Georg Zimmerman took his chance and thus joined the two remaining leaders, but not for long.
In the final everything gathered again. Especially the teams Jumbo-Visma and Ineos eagerly remained at the front of the peloton. But others also smoke their chance.
Before starting the sprint, we looked at each other a bit. Primoz Roglic seemed to stay in the lead without much effort, but in the last meters the riders came up strongly in his wheel. The 21-year-old Andrea Bagioli managed to get to the same height along Roglic’s left side and just beat him to the finish.
It is the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider’s first victory with the pros. He could hardly believe it. Bagioli dedicates his victory to teammate Fabio Jakobsen, who woke up earlier this afternoon in hospital after his fall in Poland.
From tomorrow, the number of kilometers uphill increases and the rides become a playground for the climbers.