La Ciotat (AFP)
First race with Astana and first victory for Aleksandr Vlasov: the Russian champion imposed himself alone at the top of the Route des Crêtes in La Ciotat, where Thibaut Pinot, diminished, ensured a top 10 with the "means on board" Friday during the 2nd stage of the Tour de La Provence.
The 23-year-old Russian rider, who had already distinguished himself by signing a success on the Tour of Austria in Kitzbühel in July, knocked out the peloton and grabbed the leader's jersey with 28 seconds on his nearest pursuer thanks to a sharp attack two kilometers from the line, on the Route des Crêtes and its passages at almost 20%.
A route decorated with an Instagram post, with its pines which surmount the Mediterranean, which Thibaut Pinot could not appreciate, taken from stomach ache on the eve of the decisive stage of Mont Ventoux.
"I had a stomach ache during the stage and since last night. (...) I hope to recover to be in good shape tomorrow because it is a climb that suits me better," said the climber. Groupama-FDJ team upon arrival.
"If I had been told that I would do in the top 10, I would have signed this morning," he said. "Today, I fought with the means at hand."
It must be said that none of the favorites tried to attack in this vigil of weapons, before the battle on Mont Ventoux on Saturday.
The arrival at Chalet Reynard truncates the legendary ascent of 6 km, but there is still a hearty chunk of it with 14.6 km of climb at 7.6% on average in the lunar landscape of the bald mountain.
A rare test gallop as early in the season, which should almost crown the winner of this 5th edition of the Tour de La Provence.
The duel expected between Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) could finally be arbitrated by his teammate David Gaudu, but also by the young Franco-Russian runner of Team Ineos Pavel Sivakov, or even the Spanish climber Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), winner of the "Mont Ventoux uneven Challenges" in June.
© 2020 AFP