Tour du Limousin (st. 3)
Jesús Herrada remains in yellow in Limousin with one stage to go by just 1" over Molard (COF), as Frenchman triumphs into eight-man break with short margin in Aigurande's finish
There couldn't be a more breathtaking way to start the final stage in the 48th Tour du Limousin on Friday as its third chapter -185km from Saint-Dizier to Aigurande- saw an eight-man escape taking the peloton almost to knockout situation, with Rudy Molard (COF) claiming victory and approaching Jesús Herrada's yellow to a tantalizingly close one-second margin.
The work by José Luis Laguía's Movistar team, with Antón, Capecchi, Ion Izagirre, Rubén Fernández, Sanz, Quintana and Gadret in full focus and commitment to look after their leader, combined with Bardiani's efforts to avoid the break going further than five minutes. Still, the group of leaders was strong enough to start the final 20km with almost 2.30, and even enter the last 5k with 50 seconds. The final straight offered an amazing gallop from the bunch in front of a tired break, which still kept four seconds that combined, in Molard's case, with a 10-second bonus for the win and 5" from preceeding intermediate sprints -from 20" gap overall to 1"-. The GC now has five riders at bonus' reach: Herrada, Molard, Vachon (BSE, +5"), Colbrelli (BAR, +7") and Pasqualon (RTH, +12").
"It was sort of a carom game,'" said Laguía after the stage. "Should we finish into a bunch sprint, probably Colbrelli would have been the fastest, and should the breakaway reach its goal, with bonus seconds taken by Molard and Vachon among others, we also had some risks to contain. I'm proud of the whole group, which did everything they could from the very start, all of them and especially Rubén Fernández, who sacrificed his own chances to take a final push that approached us to the final goal.
"There are many points where the race could be decided tomorrow, including the intermediate sprints and the final circuit -fast as any other, but also really hard-. We're lucky that other teams will probably have to seek their chances and pursuit tomorrow, too, but the most important thing is having Jesús so strong – he's the main thing in our favour for tomorrow". The Tour du Limousin will come to a close tomorrow with 164.5km en route to a circuit in Limoges, full of small climbs.
Picture ©: Tour du Limousin