32nd Tour de l’Ain
Stage 1: Montréal-la-Cluse – Ceyzériat (139.5 km)
In a Tour de l’Ain with a great participation, including the last two winners of the Tour de France and the Vuelta of Spain and two of the most powerful teams of the current bunch, the continental Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team once again showed its lack of complexes by getting involved in a complicated, buzzing and demanding finish, hardened by a couple of steep climbs, in which two of its riders finished among the first six. The stage went to the pouch of the Italian Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck), first leader therefore of the French race, but the Hungarian Erik Fetter and the Italian Giacomo Garavaglia signed a very outstanding fifth and sixth places in this first stage.
After fighting the breakaway, without success on this occasion, the six riders of the Contador Foundation’s continental group rode together, always around the Hungarian Márton Dina and with their eyes on the last kilometers. Once the break of the day was over, it was time to explore the options of Garavaglia’s speed (Ivan Centrone, Natura4ever, from Luxembourg; Martin Salmon, from Germany; Michal Paluta, from Poland; Alexys Brunel, from France; all four would never ride with more than 2:30 on the pack).
In a complex, winding, twisting finish, a steep climb in the last three kilometres selected the head of the pack very much for Primoz Roglic’s determination. Attentive in the vanguard, the Jumbo-Visma with the Slovenian and Tom Dumoulin in first person. Immediately afterwards, the ‘Kometa-Xstra’ Erik Fetter and, slightly further back, Giacomo Garavaglia. A final slope before the finish line demanded a final effort in which Bagioli imposed his freshness. Sensational balance, however, for Fetter and Garavaglia. The Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team is the second squad in the team´s overall after this first day.
“We were instructed to be very careful at the end. The idea was to be in the fight for the stage with Giacomo and I was rolling in front of him to give him that support. At the last steep slope the race was very selective, but both Giacomo and I saved that moment well. The finish was really very nervous. Dumoulin and Roglic accelerated and I was able to fill the gap. I had to go at full throttle, I didn’t have the strength left. It’s a pity Giacomo couldn’t follow my wheel. For me it was a real surprise to see me riding there so ‘easy’ with some of the biggest players in the peloton. But this is still going on, tomorrow we have a very tough stage ahead of us and we want to keep on doing very well”, says Erik Fetter.
“The last two kilometres were a real comeback”, regrets Garavaglia. “That little gap at the end was a pity because I felt really strong today. The podium was within my reach. But beyond that bitterness, I’m very happy with the way my legs behaved today. And with the work of the whole team, which was impressive,” said Giacomo Garavaglia.
“The team was at a great level again today, we saved the day perfectly, with a great opportunity at the end to fight one-on-one with some of the best riders in the international peloton”, concludes Hungarian Márton Dina, 31st this Friday within the main group where Sergio García was also riding. This Saturday the Hungarian rider has a very demanding first day in his fight to make a good final general classification: 140 kilometres between Lagnieu and Lélex Monts-Jura with four mountain peaks to be scored on the course. The Col de Menthieres, the last of them, presents almost ten kilometers with an average slope of more than 6%, is crowned within the last twenty kilometers and its descent gives way to a land in constant ascent.
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)
? G. Horcajuelo / Tour de l ´Ain (1), Tour de l´Ain (2, 3)