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Having held off Colbrelli in a photo finish on the uphill finishing straight, Maikin took the biggest win of his career on stage 2 of the Tour du Limousin; Gavazzi completed the podium and Rosskopf retained the lead

Photo: Bob Martin












17.08.2016 @ 17:41 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Roman Maikin (Gazprom-Rusvelo) confirmed that he has the potential to be a future contender in uphill sprint by claiming the biggest win of his career on stage 2 of the Tour du Limousin. In a close photo finish, the Russian talent narrowly held off Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) while Francesco Gavazzi (Androni) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) made it three Italian puncherus in the top 4. Joey Rosskopf (BMC) rode aggressively in the finale and retained the lead on the eve of the queen stage.


In 2014, the cycling world were surprised to see young Russian sprinter Roman Maikin finish second in a tough uphill sprint at the Tour of Belgium. A little later that year, he finished second on a stage of the Tour de Pologne, thus getting close to a big WorldTour win.


Since then, Maikin has slowly continued his progress, establishing himself as a bit of a specialist in uphill sprints. Earlier this year he confirmed his improvement when he won a stage and finished second overall in the Tour of Estonia and recently he was also close to victories in the Tour de Pologne and the Tour de Wallonie.


Today Maikin finally got that elusive win in a race with WorldTour representation when he emerged as the strongest in an uphill sprint that suited his skills perfectly. In a close photo finish, he beat defending champion Sonny Colbrelli on stage 2 of the Tour du Limousin to take the biggest victory of his career and prove that he is a force to be reckoned with in this kind of finishes.


The sprint came after a much more controlled stage than yesterday’s aggressive affair and it was Joey Rosskopf’s BMC and Nacer Bouhanni’s Cofidis that made sure that everything came back together. In the end, however, Bouhanni and his biggest rival Bryan Coquard were both denied by the strong Maikin.


After the flat opening stage, the terrain was a bit harder on the second day. The riders covered 173.6km between Dun-le-Palestel and Auzances and like in the previous stage, the riders had to overcome three small climbs – 1.1km at 5.4%, 3.5km at 4.5% and 4km at 3.9% respectively. However, the two first ascents again came in the first half while the second hill was located with 25.7km to go. From there, the terrain was definitely not flat as there was a long uphill drag before the riders descended for the final 10km. In the finale, the riders face an uphill sprint of 200m.


Like yesterday, it was a very hot day when the riders gathered for the start but Cedric Pineau (FDJ) who had been one of the key protagonists yesterday, was absent. The other riders got the race off to a fast opening phase with numerous attacks but unlike yesterday, the break was formed relatively eary. After 9km of racing Benoit Cosnefroy (Ag2r), Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Romain Le Roux (Armee) and Flavien Dassonville (Auber 93) already had an advantage of 1.30 and as the peloton was content with the situation, it went out to 2.30 before BMC and Cofidis started to ride on the front.


Cofidis soon disappeared and left the work to BMC that allowed the gap to go out to 3.40 but then they already upped the pace. After 38km of racing, it was already down to 2.35. In general, it was a relatively slow start, with the riders covering just 36.5km during the first hour.


While BMC kept the gap around 3 minutes, Roy Jans (Wanty) left the race and Le Roubx beat Cosnefroy and Delaplace in the first intermediate sprint. A little later, Dassonville extended his in lead in the KOM competition by beating Cosnefroy and Delaplace in the sprint at the top of the first climb. The peloton arrived 3.10 later.


Cosnefroy beat Dassonville and Delaplace in the second intermediate sprint where the peloton crossed the lie with a deficit of 3.00. It was still BMC doing all the work, reducing the gap to 2.35 at the top of the second climb where Dassonville was again the fastest ahead of Delaplace and Cosnefroy.


Cosnefroy beat Delaplace and Dassonville in the finale intermediate sprint with 80km to go which is where BMC really upped the pace. After 100km of racing, they had already reduced the gap to 1.30.


At the end of the third hour, the average speed was still only 37.3km/h but now thing were heating up. Cofidis took over from BMC and reduced the gap to 1.10 as they hit the final 55km. Surprisingly, it was sprinter Nacer Bouhanni who did the work for the French team.


Bouhanni’s work didn’t pay off as the gap went out to 1.30 before BMC again took over, reducing the gap to 1.00 before Peter Velits and Manuel Senni ended a day of hard work on the front. That allowed Cofidis to again come to the fore and after a relatively stable phase, they had reduced the gap to just 25 seconds when Dassonville beat Delaplace and Le Roux in the final KOM sprint.


The peloton was single-file as they sped down the descent and they brought the break back before they hit the final 20km. BMC were back in control, with race leader Joey Rosskopf riding in third position.


Movistar hit the front for their leader Francisco Ventoso before Direct Energie took over, working for Bryan Coquard. A Roubaix rider briefly tried to escape but with 14km to go, it was all back together.


Movistar accelerated as they entered the final 10km and that led to splits in the bunch. Suddenly, five riders, including Rosskopf, got clear but the race leader fell off when the group was whittled down to a trio. However, Cofidis took no chances and brought things back together.


Rosskopf was riding on the front as they entered the final 5km and things were looking good for the sprinters. Cofidis took control and brought a short-lived attack from 4 riders back before they passed the 2km to go mark.


Hugo Hofstetter took a huge turn just before the flamme rouge and then the sprinters battled it out on the uphill finishing straight. Romain Maikin and Sonny Colbrelli went head to head and in the close photo finish, no one dared to celebrate. After a nervous wait, Maikin was given the win, with Colbrelli, Francesco Gavazzi and Giovanni Visconti making it three Italian puncheurs in the top 4.


Rosskopf finished safely in the bunch and so retained his four-second advantage over Hubert Dupont (Ag2r). He will now try to defend his position in the queen stage. On the penultimate day, the riders will cover 179.9km between Le Lonzac and Liginiac and with a total amount of climbing of 3678m, it is definitely not a flat course. Already after 33.1km of racing, the riders will reach the top of the category 3 Cote du Bos (8.4km, 2.7%) and the hardest climb of the race, the category 2 climb of Cot de Soursac (4.9km, 4.7%), comes at the 81km mark. From there, the terrain is significantly easier but there is a nasty sting in the tail. The category 4 Cote de Roche le Peyroux (2.8km, 4%) tops out just 7.1km from the finish and from there it is a flat run-in to the finish. The final 200m are slightly uphill.



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