France’s Romain Hardy won Thursday’s stage of the Tour de l’Avenir, finishing with two others more than two minutes ahead of the field.
Belgium’s Yannick Eijssen retains his overall lead with a 17-second advantage over Romain Bardet, who was second on the stage.
Stage 4 was 183 kilometers from Ambert to Vais les Bains. It included six categorized climbs, but none harder than cat. 3. It finished with a long downhill run from the Col de la Clède, 65km from the finish.
Hardy joined a six-man break about 10 kilometers into the race. They built a maximum lead of about three minutes as break member Esteban Chaves (Colombia) snagged all the KOM points on offer and took a commanding lead in that competition. American Andrew Talansky, who did not score any KOM points Thursday, remains tied for third in the climbers’ competition.
Eijssen’s Belgian team began to work to chase the break, but was unable to bring the group back as Hardy outsprinted his two remaining breakaway companions and the main pack with Eijssen came in 2:06 behind the winner.
Eijssen said several of his teammates crashed on the stage and the team was unable to bring back the break.
“When we heard they had about 3 minutes, we accelerated to defend my jersey. I will fight to the end to keep it,” he said.
Eijssen, the winner of the mountaintop finish of stage 3, said he’s counting on the race’s final, uphill, time trial to secure his overall victory.
Friday’s stage is 153km from Vals les Bains to Loriol sur Drome. It includes one cat. 2 climb and two cat. 3s. The final cat. 3 climb, the Côte des Roberts, tops out just 12km from the finish and could be a springboard for a stage-winning break.
- 1. Romain HARDY, France A, in 4h 33 ’53
- 2. Romain Bardet, France B, at s.t.
- 3. David ROSCH, Germany, at 00:00
- 4. Jean Lou PAIANI, France B, at 02:00
- 5. Michael Matthews, Australia, at 02:06
- Complete resuls
- 1. Yannick Eijssen, Belgique, in 16h 28′ 06″
- 2. Romain Bardet, France B, at 17s
- 3. Jarlinson Pantano Gomez, Colombie, at 00:17
- 4. David Rosch, Allemagne, at 00:45
- 5. Jelte Slagter Tom, Pays-Bas, at 00:54
- Complete resuls