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“I had good legs at the end of the stage, and I thought that attacking and going with a small group would be the best move. But in the finish we were all together and perhaps I should have waited for the final sprint. But that’s...

Photo: Trek Factory Racing






16.03.2014 @ 13:31 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Yesterday's uphill sprint was perfectly suited to Fabio Felline but the Trek rider chose to go on the attack in the animated finale. Afterwards, the Italian regretted not having saved his energy for the final dash to the line.


The 195.5-kilometer penultimate stage between Mougins and Biot Sophia-Antipoli included two category one climbs (Col de Vence, Col de l'Ecre); however, with the two ascents coming before the half-way point, yesterday’s race leaned more towards a breakaway succeeding than to the GC leaders battling on the slopes.


Laurent Didier instigated the six-rider early breakaway that set off in the opening kilometers. A small group immediately pursued, but it would take over 30kms for the two to merge. The breakaway - now nine strong - forged on, but with Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) just over one minute down in GC, AG2R were forced to chase hard from behind. 


At kilometer 76 Feillu dropped from the break, leaving the eight riders ahead more chance to succeed, but they never would gain a significant lead back. With 40 kilometers to go it was all over.


From this moment on the race became a flurry of attacks. Fabio Felline joined the next significant breakaway that formed off the front, but AG2R controlled all the moves perfectly in the undulating and twisty roads leading to the uphill finish.


“I had good legs at the end of the stage, and I thought that attacking and going with a small group would be the best move,” explained Felline. “But in the finish we were all together and perhaps I should have waited for the final sprint. But that’s racing. I do feel that my form is getting better and better and I am feeling confident for Milan Sanremo; that is very promising.” 


It was a large bunch that stormed into the final climb, which saw Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) take his second stage win, ahead of Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) - relegated to second again - and Carlos Betancur (AG2R-La Mondiale). 


Betancur easily maintained his overall lead, while second placed Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) crashed with Trek Factory Racing’s Fränk Schleck on a downhill less than four kilometers from the finish. Fränk Schleck would grab a new bike and quickly remount, losing over three minutes by the finish, but thankfully escape injury. However, Thomas took the worst of the crash and was slow to get up, ultimately losing over seven minutes and dropping out of contention for the overall win. 


Bob Jungels was the highest finisher for the team in 21st (+07”) and rests in 15th place overall (+57”).


Sport director Josu Larrazabal was philosophical in his summary of today’s stage, explaining why it’s difficult for a breakaway to succeed, and how the next days may shape up.


“The GC is really close, and the time bonuses are important on the finish line. The collaboration was not good in the breakaway with Feillu there, since he was too close in the GC.  Then, at the end the climbs made it easy for the teams to control, too, and in the circuits there were a lot of strong guys jumping, but AG2R controlled it quite well. It was a good finish for Felline, but he moved too early, and so he missed some power for the finish.


“Tomorrow could be more or less the same as these last days. The GC is still close,  [Joaquin] Rojas of Movistar is two seconds from the podium, plus many guys are close to the top 10 overall, and with the importance of the UCI points here, the breakaway will probably be controlled again for the time bonus seconds. We will continue to try, same as we have, because we have nothing to lose.”


You can read our preview of the final stage here. You can follow our live coverage of the stage at 15.15 CET on



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