British rider hits his limit to lose GC lead in France after splendid work from Movistar team-mates. Jesús Herrada takes 9th in Pré-en-Pail
“The team were literally incredible today, gave it my all and a bit but the finishing circuit was just too much. Gutted.” That was the reaction on Twitter by Alex Dowsett (Movistar Team) after losing his coveted yellow jersey in the Circuit de la Sarthe, just 24 hours after seizing it with his TT victory. The Pré-en-Pail stage (197km), with five climbs of the Mont des Avaloirs, ruined the Essex boy’s chances after an extraordinary piece of work by his team-mates on French soil.
Iván Gutiérrez and an exceptional Jasha Sütterlin kept the pace into the bunch for more than three hours, not letting the early break going away much as they entered the final circuit with less than four minutes. The two left the front just as Dowsett started struggling: after getting over the first two climbs, he ultimately dropped in the third, 25k from the finish, the attacks and the strong pace by IAM taking him out of contention.
Downhearted, Alex crossed the line more than fifteen minutes after the leaders, accompanied by Ventoso and Lobato. Meanwhile, Jesús Herrada got into the final selection following the last ascent, his group chasing a late attempt by Francis Mourey (FDJ) to contest the sprint, where he claimed 9th as Ramunas Navardauskas (GRS) grabbed the day’s honours and the GC leadership. Action in the Pays du Loire will end tomorrow with another lumpy 185km between Abbaye de l’Epau y La Ferté-Bernard.
Picture (c): Bernard Larvol / Circuit de la Sarthe