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Swiss joins late 11-rider break on hilly first stage of French stage, makes it into the crucial 3-rider move in the final and leaves his companions behind in difficult uphill finish

Photo: Sirotti

ANDREA DI CORRADO

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IAM CYCLING

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MARTIN ELMIGER

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TOUR DU LIMOUSIN

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YUKIYA ARASHIRO

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20.08.2013 @ 18:09 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Martin Elmiger (IAM) got his Tour de Limousin off to a perfect start when the Swiss rider emerged as the strongest from an 11-rider escape group. On a hilly day in the French Limousin region, he made it into a crucial 3-rider move in the final and left defending champion Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and Andrea Di Corrada (Bardiani) behind in the uphill finale.

 

Martin Elmiger is known as a fast rider for hilly courses and this makes him a perfect fit to the French Tour de Limousin which kicked off today. Consisting of four hilly, uncontrollable stages, the French stage is one for the puncheurs.

 

On a stage perfectly suited to his characteristics, Elmiger got his race off to a perfect start when he won the tough first stage of the race. At the end of an extremely aggressive race, he made it into an 11-rider group which the Movistar team never managed to bring back despite its best efforts.

 

That left it to the escapees to battle it out and with 3km to go, Elmiger got away with defending champion Yukiya Arashiro and Andrea Di Corrado. The uphill finish suited the veteran Swiss perfectly and he took a convincing win ahead of his two companions.

 

Elmiger now takes the first leader's jersey into tomorrow's 185,7km 2nd stage. Like today's, tomorrow's route is up and down all day and has a tough uphill section just before the finish in Ambazac. Elmiger and IAM team can expect to come under attack in terrain that is very difficult to control.

 

A fast start

The 168km stage was expected to offer more of the aggressive racing that has always characterized the Tour de Limousin. With a route with very few metres of flat roads, the course was tailor-made to attacks and uncontrollable racing

 

The first group to get a significant gap consisted of Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar), Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ), Chriostophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Bert-Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Bretagne - Séché), Mathieu Drujon (BigMat Auber 93) and Rudy Kowalski (Roubaix Lille Métropôle) but this move contained way too much horsepower to allow any leeway and so it was brought back. Instead, a 4-rider group got up the road and this suited the peloton perfectly.

 

4 riders form the early move

Anthony Ravard (Ag2r), Julian Guay (Sojasun), Jesus Herrada (Movistar) and Jerome Cousin (Europcar) were allowed to build up a 4-minute gap. FDJ had, however, big plans for today and so the French team started to chase, gradually reeling in the escapees.

 

With 85km to go, the escapees had already been reeled in and this opened the race up to new attacks. Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2r), Elmiger, Egoitz Garcia (Cofidis), Anthony Delaplace (Sojaun), Gael Malacarne (Bretagne) and Joshua Berry (La Pomme Marseille) formed a promising move which was reeled in a few moments later.

 

Cofidis ups the pace

Cofidis now took things into their own hands and the French team set a rapid pace in the peloton, thus discouraging any attacks and sending riders out the back door. Stijn Steels (Crelan), Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC) and Thomas Rostollan (La Pomme Marseille) tried to get clear but due to the fast pace, they had no chance.

 

Steels refused to give up and so he launched another attack with Kevin Lalouette (Roubaix) for company. Those two riders were joined by Adrian Saez (Euskaltel), Alessandro Malaguti, Antonio Parrinello (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling), Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale), Sergey Lagutin, Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil), Klaas Sys (Crelan-Euphony), Benjamin Le Montagner (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Jean-Marc Marino (Sojasun), Theo Vimpère (BigMat-Auber 93), Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), Laurent Pichon (FDJ.fr) and Tristan Valentin (Cofidis) to form a promising move that contained riders from most of the teams.

 

All back together

The cooperation was very bad and so Pichon, Ligthart and Parrinello tried on their own, the former two dropping the latter along the way. Once again, the break was, however, neutralized and with 30km to go, it was all back together.

 

That was when the elastic finally snapped. Arashiro, Lagutin, Elmiger, Arnaud Gérard, Gael Malacarne (Bretagne-Séché), Di Corrado, Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R La Mondiale), Yannick Martinez (La Pomme Marseille), Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun), Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ.fr) and Romain Lemarchand (Cofidis) got clear and they were quickly alowed to build up a 1-minute gap.

 

Movistar organizes a chase

Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel) set off in pursuit but as Movistar started to chase, the Basque was reeled in. The rest of the stage evolved into an exciting pursuit with the breakaway finally coming out triumphant.

 

When it was clear that the escapees would decide the stage win, the attacks started. Di Corrado was the first to try and when he was reeled in, Fedrigo, Bonnafond and one of the Bretagne riders tried a move.

 

That trio was also caught and that allowed Elmiger, Arashiro and Di Corrado to launch a counterattack. Those three riders had to decide the stage on the uphill finishing straight and the Swiss emerged as the strongest, putting 2 seconds into Arashiro and 12 into Di Corrado. Lagutin finished 4th, 5 seconds further adrift while Andrea Pasqualon (Bardiani) led the peloton across the line with a time loss of 1.03.

 

Result:

1. Martin Elmiger 4.00.00

2. Yukiya Arashiro +0.02

3. Andrea Di Corrado +0.12

4. Sergey Lagutin +0.17

5. Guillaume Bonnafond +0.21

6. Yannick Martinez

7. Pierrick Fedrigo

8. Arnaud Gerard +0.28

9. Anthony Delaplace +0.30

10. Romain Lemarchand +0.34

 

General classification:

1. Martin Elmiger

 

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