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With a powerful attack inside the final two kilometres, Oomen took a solo win in the first mountain stage of the Tour de l’Ain and took over the leader’s jersey; Latour and De Clercq completed the podium

Photo: Sirotti

BART DE CLERCQ

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PIERRE LATOUR

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SAM OOMEN

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TOUR DE L'AIN

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12.08.2016 @ 16:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sam Oomen (Giant-Alpecin) confirmed that he is the a future Dutch GC rider in the making by riding to an impressive solo win on the first mountain stage of the Tour de l’Ain. With a powerful attack inside the final two kilometres, the Dutchman dropped his four final companions and then soloed across the line to take both the win and the leader’s jersey. Pierre Latour (Ag2r) was second and Bart De Clercq (Lotto Soudal) took third.

 

After a great junior career, Sam Oomen was one of the dominant riders on the U23 scene in 2015. The strong Dutchman emerged as a future GC star, most notably with his third place in the hard Rhone-Alpes Isere Tour and a second place at Tour Alsace.

 

However, it was his ride at the mountainous Tour de l’Ain that he really proved his potential. Being up against a star-studded line-up of pro climbers, he finished in the top 7 on both mountain stages and ended the race in 8th overall. A little later, he finished fourth in the Tour de l’Avenir and he ended the year by taking victory in the U23 Paris-Tours.

 

Unsurprisingly, Oomen attracted the interest of the WorldTour teams and it was Giant-Alpecin that won the battle. This year the Dutchman has eased himself onto the pro scene, mainly working for his teammates. However, he got a rare chance to lead the team at Criterium Internation where he confirmed his class by taking third overall.

 

This week he is back at the Tour de l’Ain and like last year he has made it a big goal. Today he proved that he has taken another step in his development as he took his first pro win on the first mountain stage of the race.

 

Having made it into a 15-rider group on the main climb of Col du Menthieres, Oomen joined Pierre Latour, Bart De Clercq, Guillaume Martin (Wanty) and David Gaudu (France) in a five-rider group that escaped on the lower slopes of the climb that led to the finish. In the end, he made a late attack inside the final kilometres and managed to put one second into his former companions to take both the stage win and the leader’s jersey.

 

After two days for the sprinters, it was time for the climbers to come to the fore in stage 3 which had the only uphill finish of the race. The 141.4km route between Nantua and Lelex Monts-Jura was short but it offered climbs throughout the entire day. Already after 9.1km of racing, the riders hit the 4.9km category 3 climb of Cote de Samognat and then they tackled the category 2 climbs of Cote de Viry (4.2km), Cote de Plagne (4.8km) and Cote de Giron (8.7km). The top of the latter climb came with 56.6km to go and then it was time for the key challenge, the category 1 climb of Col de Menthieres (9.3km, 7%). The final 21km consisted of a descent and the final 12km of gradual climbing to the finish at Lelex Monts-Jura.

 

As it has been the case every day so far, the riders had excellent weather when they gathered for the start. Gino Mader (Switzerland) who fell ill during the night, and Anthony Maldonado (Auber 93) were both non-starters.

 

Unsurprisingly, there were lots of attacks as soon as the flag was dropped and it took more than 3km for anyone to get a significant advantage. Gaëtan Bille (Wanty - Gobert Group), Yauheni Hutarovich (Fortunéo - Vital Concept), Jonas Vangenechten (IAM Cycling), Thomas Koep (Stölting Service Group), Florent Pereira (Roubaix Metropole), Peter Lenderink (Rabobank Development Team) and Bryan Alaphilippe (Armee) managed to build a gap of 25 seconds but Etixx-QuickStep and FDJ were not content with the situation. Both teams chased hard and this forced the escapees to ride hard. That was too much for Pereira and Alaphilippe who fell back to the peloton and Lenderik was soon dropped. Koep was the next to fall off the pace but instead Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) bridged across.

 

Hutarovich was the next to get distanced, leaving Bille, Vangenechten and Perichon to press on but they were brought back after 12km of fast racing. The peloton was exploding due to the fast pace as Rudy Barbier (Roubaix), Lenderink and Cesar Bihel (Auber 93) were among the many riders to get distanced.

 

Brice Feillu (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) beat Benoit Sinner (Armee) and Jorge Arcas (Movistar) in the first KOM sprint before Perichon attacked on the descending, building an advantage of 15 seconds. However, he failed to stay clear and so the door was open for race leader Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep) to win the intermediate sprint ahead of Jos Van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal).

 

Trentin and Van Emden continued in an attack but it all came back together at the 26km mark where Koep abandoned the race. Moments later, they hit the second climb where around 30 riders were dropped before Felix Pouilly (Roubaix) beat Feillu and Xandro Meurisse (Wanty) in the KOM sprint.

 

Schott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18) attacked on the descent and when he was brought back, his teammate Christoph Pfingsten tried a 2-rider attack alongside Hubert Dupont (Ag2r). However, everything was back together at the 34km mark.

 

The peloton exploded to pieces again as riders like Anthony Turgis (Cofidis), Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon 18), Barbier, Alaphilippe, Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar), Nans Peters (France) and Martin Schäppi (Switzerland) were distanced. Meanwhile, Valentin Madouas (France) made an attack but as Lotto Soudal and Fortuneo-Vital Concept took control, he was brought back.

 

Despite the hard terrain, the riders covered 39.2km during the first hour before Perichon, Perrig Quemeneur (Direct Energie) and Remy Di Gregorio (Delko) managed to build an advantage to 35 seconds. Madouas took off in pursuit before the peloton slowed down. After almost 50km of racing, the leaders were 25 seconds ahead of Madouas and 2.35 ahead of the peloton.

 

Madouas did his best to catch the front trio but as they didn’t wait for him, he suddenly found himself 50 seconds behind. He refused to give up but while the front group extended the advantage to 4 minutes after 60km of racing, he continued to lose time.

 

Ag2r took control in the peloton and finally brought Madouas back. As they went up the third climb, they started to reduce the gap and when Di Gregorio beat Quemeneur and Perichon in the KOM sprint, Axel Domont and Samuel Dumoulin led the team and the rest of the peloton over the line 3.40 later. Benjamin Giraud (Delko); Alexis Bodiot (Armee), Steven Lammertink (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Pierre Barbier (Roubaix) were among the riders to get distanced on the ascent.

 

Domont was doing a huge job to keep the gap stable at around 3.30 and when he increased the pace on the next climb, Yauheni Hutraovich (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Lorrenzo Manzin (FDJ), Thwaites, Lenderink, Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko), Thibault Ferasse (Armee) and Pfingsten fell behind. The gap dropped to less than 3 minutes and this forced the escapees to go harder. This was too much for Perichon who was dropped from the front group.

 

Di Gregorio beat Quemeneur in the KOM sprint before Perichon reached the top 1.05 later. Dumoulin and Domont were first from the peloton 3.00 behind the leaders.

 

As they went down the descent, Bora-Argon 18 captain Patrick Konrad had to spend some energy to get back after an untimely mechanical and Clement Chevrier (IAM) had similarly bad luck. However, they were helped a bit by the slower pace that allowed some of the dropped riders to regain contact. Van der Sande was among the riders to get back.

 

With 46km to go, the front duo had increased the gaps to 1.15 and 3.45 respectively but the peloton made use of the flat run-in to the main climb to increase the speed. When Perichon was brought back with 37km to go, the gap was down to just 2.35 and it soon dropped to 1.45. Perichon paid the price for his day in the front as he was distanced from the bunch.

 

Victor Campenaerts took over the pace-setting for LottoNL-Jumbo and he created further selection as Domont and Dumoulin were dropped after a hard day. Fabien Grellier (Direct Energie) and Koen De Kort (Giant-Alpecin) were also distanced before they hit the Col de Menthieres.

 

The escapees started the climb with an advantage of 1.10 and Di Gregorio made an immediate attack, easily dropping Quemeneur. Further back, the peloton exploded. Race leader Trentin was one of the first to get dropped and Jeremy Cornu, Cees Bol, Thierry Hupond, Arnaud Courteille, Gaetan Bille, Guillaume Bonnafond, Alexey Vermeulen, Jelle Wallays, Jerome Coppel, Frederik Veuchelen, Arnaud Gerard, Kevin Reza, Berden De Vries, Olivier Le Gac, Bryan Nauleau Enrico Battaglin and Felix Pouilly were also left behind.

 

It was Dupont who did the damage, reducing the gap to 20 seconds and dropping Jerome Mainard, Julien Antomarchi and Ricardo Carapaz. He finally brought Di Gregorio back before he swung off.

 

Pierre Latour (Ag2r) made an immediate attack and was joined by his teammate Jean-Christophe Peraud and Bart De Clercq (Lotto Soudal). Louis Vervaeke (Lotto Soudal), Konrad, Sam Oomen (Giant-Alpecin), Antonio Pedrero and Guillaume Martin (Wanty) managed to regain contact before Peraud hit the front to set a brutal pace. Kilian Frankiny (Switzerland) led the pace in a small chase group.

 

De Clercq and Peraud went on the attack before Pedrero joined the pair. They built an advantage of 20 seconds over a 13-rider group that included Alexandre Geniez (FDJ), Rudy Molard (Cofidis), Latour, Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), Konrad, Oomen, Feillu, Marc Soler (Movistar), Martin, Gauillaume Levarlet (Auber 93), David Gaudu, Leo Vincent (France) and Frankiny. However, they failed to cooperate and as the gap continued to grow, Martin took off in pursuit.

 

De Clercq led Peraud and Pedrero over the top while Martin, Latour, Gaudu and another rider reached the summit 10 seconds later. A 12-rider chase group gathered after Vervaeke had been left behind and they caught the front trio on the descent.

 

As soon as they reached the bottom, Martin attacked but he was brought back on the lower slopes of the final climb. Instead, Gaudu and De Clercq took off and they were soon joined by Latour, Oomen and Martin to form a front quintet.

 

The leaders managed to build an advantage of 20 seconds over a 13-rider group that was made up of Geniez, Romain Hardy (Cofidis), Molard, Calmejane, Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal), Konrad, Feillu Pedrero, Dries Devenyns, Marcel Wyss (IAM), Levarlet, Vincent and Frankiny. The latter did most of the work to reduce the gap to 12 seconds but then the balance started to tip. With 5km to go, the gap had gone out to 25 seconds.

 

The gap went out to more than 37 seconds during the next two kilometres and so it was clear that the first five riders were going to decide the stage even though Wyss and Devenyns did a lot of work in the chase group. Feillu tried to bridge the gap but he never made the junction.

 

Inside the final kilometre, Oomen made his move and he managed to get a small advantage. The Dutchman dug deep and managed to reach the finish with a 1-second advantage over his four chasers. Latour beat De Clercq in the sprint for second while Geniez led the chasers to the finish with a time loss of 33 seconds.

 

With the win, Oomen takes the overall lead with a five-second advantage over Latour. However, he won’t get an easy day on the final stage. At just 132.2km, the couse between Lagnieu and Belley is very short but that doesn’t mean that it will be an easy one. After 15.3km of flat racing, the riders will hit the bottom of the category 2 Cote de Corlier (7.6km) and then they will tackle the category 2 Col de la Rochette (5.3km). A long descent then leads to the bottom of the mighty Col du Grand Colombier which averages 7.32% over 12.3km and is very steep in the final 5km. However, the top comes with 42.7km to go and after the descent, there are 30.2 flat kilometres to the finish in Belley.

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