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With a well-timed late attack, Malori bridges across to lone leader Arashiro before escaping on his own to narrowly hold off the sprinters; Roche finishes safely within the bunch and wins the race overall

Photo: Sirotti

ADRIANO MALORI

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ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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LA ROUTE D'OCCITANIE

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MICHAEL ROGERS

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NICOLAS ROCHE

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22.06.2014 @ 18:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Adriano Malori (Movistar) made use of his excellent TT skills to win the final stage of the Route du Sud by launching an attack in the finale. The Italian and Josh Edmondson (Sky) bridges the gap to lone leader Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and finally the Italian got clear on his own to hold off the sprinters by 5 seconds. Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished within the bunch and won the race overall, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) taking the minor spots on the podium.

 

All was set for a big bunch sprint to bring the 3-day, very mountainous Route du Sud to conclusion and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) was raring to go, eager to prove to his team management that he deserves to get selected for the Tour de France. However, Adriano Malori had a different plan and the Italian made a late attempt that was enough to deny the sprinters their chance to sprint for glory in Castres.

 

With 20km to go, Yukiya Arashiro was the lone survivor of an early break and the Japanese champion was fighting hard to maintain a 30-second advantage. Malori saw his chance and together with Josh Edmondson, he bridged the gap to the lone leader.

 

From there, it was a fierce pursuit between the peloton and the front trio which proved stronger than expected. With 5km to go, they were still 25 seconds ahead and as they passed the 3km to go banner, the gap was still 15 seconds.

 

Inside the final kilometres, Malori attacked and none of his companions were able to keep up with the TT specialist. While Edmondson and Arashiro were both caught, Malori held off the peloton to take a rare road race victory. 5 seconds later Benjamin Giraud (La Pomme) beat Maxime Daniel (Ag2r) in the sprint for second while big favourite Bouhanni had to settle for fourth.

 

After two days in the mountains, the final stage was significantly easier as it was held on a 179.4km kilometres course from Saint-Gaudens to Castres with only two category 3 climbs. The terrain was slightly rolling and had a small uncategorized climb in the finale but the sprinters were looking forward to this one as their only opportunity in the race.

 

Early on the day’s 8-rider escape was formed when Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar), JI Gutierrez (Movistar), Jérôme Coppel (Cofidis), Jean-Marc Bideau (Bretagne-Dried), Rémy Di Gregorio (La Pomme Marseille 13) Pirmin Lang (IAM), Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural) and Carlos Quintero (Colombia) took off. While Tinkoff-Saxo assumed their position on the front to protect the race lead of Nicolas Roche, the gap grew to more than 2 minutes where it was kept stable for most of the day.

 

The Russian team got some assistance from FDJ who were keen to set up a bunch sprint for Bouhanni while De Gregorio won both intermediate sprints to move from 12th to 11th in the overall standings. In the feed zone, the peloton slowed down and with 75km to go, the gap had suddenly reached 4.10.

 

From there, FDJ and Tinkoff-Saxo accelerated and with 49km to go, the gap was down to 2.00. A crash brought Sylwester Szmyd’s race to a premature end while the peloton continued to get closer to the escapees.

 

As they approached the final climb, the gap was melting away and this prompted Arashiro to attack. While his companions were all caught, the Japanese champion led the race with a 35-second advantage with 20km to go. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Sky) finished second in the final intermediate sprint to move into fourth in the overall standing.

 

Malori and Edmondson now made their move and bridged the gap to make it a strong front trio. Despite the hard work by the peloton, the managed to extend their gap to a maximum of 50 seconds.

 

In the finale, they started to lose ground and with 5km to go, they were only 25 seconds ahead. 2km further up the road, they still had 15 seconds in hand and moments later, Malori made the move that allowed him to take a solo win.

 

Nicolas Roche finished safely within the bunch to secure himself the overall victory ahead of Alejandro Valverde and his teammate Michael Rogers. Roche also won the points classification, Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r) was best climber, Merhawi Kudus (MTN) was the best young rider, Axel Domont (Ag2r) took the sprints competition and Tinkoff-Saxo was the best team.

 

With the Route du Sud done and dusted, most riders will now turn their attention to the national championships next weekend which will be the final tune-up for the Tour de France for a lot of riders.

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