Mauro Finetto (Neri Sottoli) proved that he is the strongest rider in the Tour du Limousin when he powered clear of his rivals in the uphill sprint on the queen stage and held off Julien Simon (Cofidis) and Davide Rebellin (CCC) to take the stage win. As he distanced race leader Bjorn Leukemans (Wanty) by 15 seconds, he took over the leader’s jersey with just one stage remaining.
Yesterday Mauro Finetto was very frustrated after he had been hit by another rider in the uphill sprint on stage 2 of the Tour du Limousin. Today he was out to make amends in the queen stage which had a similar finish and suited the strong puncheur down to the ground.
Finetto got his revenge as he left nothing wondering who is the strongest rider in the 4-day race. On the 3km climb to the finish, he held off Julien Simon and Davide Rebellin in a sprint to take his second win of the season.
The trio were in a class of his own and managed to gain time on all their rivals. Race leaer Bjorn Leukemans did his best to limit his losses but when he rolled across the line, he had lost 15 seconds and the leader’s jersey to Finetto.
The stage took place over 183.2km from Le Lac de Vassiviere to Le Maupuy where the stage ended on top of the Monts de Gueret. The rolling profile was up or down all day and included three categorized climbs before the uncategorized hilltop finish.
Sebastien Reichenback (IAM) was the only non-starter and unlike in the previous stages, it was a calm beginning. After 12km of racing, 10 riders finally made a move but they were quickly brought back.
Instead, another group gave it a go and this laid the foundations for the day’s early break. Sylvain Chavanel (IAM), Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (FDJ), Axel Domont (AG2R), Kévin Reza (Europcar), Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli), Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Séché), Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural-CGA), Marco Frapporti (Androni), Ignatas Konovalovas (MTN), Juan Esteban Arango, Edwin Avila (both Colombia) and Evaldas Siskevicius (La Pomme Marseille) started to build a gap while Mickael Delage (FDJ), Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2r) and Julien Duval (Roubaix) quickly bridged the gap.
Jerome Pineau (IAM) and Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) also tried to make the junction but they had to fight a lot harder to make it across. While the peloton allowed the gap to grow to 2.45, the two Frenchman finally managed to close the gap after around 50km of racing.
In the peloton, Wanty had taken control and when Domont beat Delaplace and Madrazo in the first intermediate sprint, they had brought the gap down to 1.20. The group was too big to give too much leeway and at the 70km mark, the advantage was just 30 seconds.
Delaplace was the first rider to get dropped from the break on the first categorized climb where Domont took maximum points in front of Reza and Lecuisinier. The Europcar duo of Cyril Gautier and Angelo Tulik bridged the gap but as the peloton continued to ride hard, the front group started to disintegrate.
Some riders dropped back to the peloton while other riders attacked out of the bunch and when the dust had settled, a new front group had formed. Sylvain Chavanel (IAM), Axel Domont and Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R La Mondiale), Angelo Tulik and Kévin Reza (Europcar) Ignatas Konovalovas (MTN-Qhubeka), Edwin Avila (Colombia), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF), Mickael Delage (FDJ), Thomas Rostollan (La Pomme) and Marco Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli ) made up the new group and now the peloton finally decided to take it a bit easier.
With 90km to go, the gap had reached 4.40 and at this point, Domont scored more points by beating Tulik and Reza in the second intermediate sprint. The gap continued to grow and reached a maximum of 6 minutes before CCC started to chase.
When Domont led Rostollan, Pirazzi and Tulik over the top of the second climb, the advantage was only 3.25 and the Polish team now got some assistance from Cofidis. With 40km to go, the bunch was just 1.30 behind and now the front group started to split up.
Bonnafond, Rostollan and Domont were the first to get dropped as Frapporti launched a futile attempt. As more attacks were launched, Chavanel, Delage and Tulik got clear while Konovalovas, Avila and Frapporti formed a chase trio.
As Chavanel led Delage and Tulik over the top of the final climb with 15km to go, the trio was just 20 seconds ahead and when the Frenchman won the final intermediate sprint, the bunch was even closer. With 2km to go, the group was caught and it was now a 20-rider peloton that sped towards the bottom of the final climb under the impetus of Bardiani.
Remy Di Gregorio (La Pomme) and Andrea Piechele (Bardiani) made an attack and the Frenchman soon dropped his companion. However, they were brought back when the sprint was launched and here Finetto emerged as the strongest.
Finetto now leads the race with an 11-second advantage over Rebellin which he takes into tomorrow’s final stage. It’s the easiest stage of the race with only three small categorized climbs and ends with 3 laps of a rolling finishing circuit that has a slightly uphill finishing straight.
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