Tour de l'Avenir: Hardy scores from the break, Eijssen still strong on top
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tour de l'Avenir: Hardy scores from the break, Eijssen still strong on top

by Jered Gruber at 2:54 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Wild day through the hills of central France sees a break threaten Eijssen's overall lead
Frenchman Romain Hardy, riding the Tour de l'Avenir with the France A team, scored the Stage 4 victory out of a three-up break that took a healthy gap to the line in Vals-les-Bains. In the final sprint, Hardy got the better of the rider that shares his first name, but rides for the second French team, France B, Romain Bardet. German David Rosch followed in 3rd.

22 year old Romain Hardy, who normally rides for the Bretagne-Schuller team, has forged an excellent 2010 campaign. His win today, his first of the season, is a perfect addition to an already impressive collection of top results throughout the season. Hardy has scored great results in various French 1.1s throughout the season including 4th at the Tour du Finistere, 3rd at the Boucles de l'Aulne, 3rd at the Polynormande, as well as a 4th at the 1.1 ranked Prueba Villafranca in Spain. His successes in the tough one day French classics has also carried over into stage glory - Hardy recently notched up two 4th place finishes en route to an 18th overall at the Tour de l'Ain.

While Bardet was a frustrated runner-up on the day, he could count a huge leap forward on the general classification to his credit for the day's efforts. He leapt from 17th overall to 2nd, only 17 seconds behind Belgian leader, Yannick Eijssen. Germany's David Rosch, third on the day, could also be satisfied with a significant jump forward on the standings all the way up to 4th - 45 seconds behind Eijssen.

Eijssen had a rough go of it in the tough run to Vals-les-Bains. Afterwards, the Belgian talent headed for BMC confessed that a number of his teammates hit the ground on the day's stage and left him isolated in the crucial latter part of the stage, but even with the bad luck, Eijssen held strong, and plans to stay that way all the way to the finish.

"This morning, we had planned to let the breakaway go and control the race according to the riders who made the break. I was pretty confident, but we did not think the stage would be too hard. In addition, several of my teammates fell, and I found myself a little isolated. At the end, we did not even know the time difference with the break. When we heard that it was three minutes, we accelerated to defend my jersey. I will fight to the end to keep it. Above all, I will be strong on the stage to Risoul [the race finishing uphill time trial]. It is a difficult climb, but it may suit me…if I have good legs."

After yesterday's difficult day in the mountains along the outskirts of the Massif Central, riders had an easier go of it in Stage 4 on the 183 kilometer jaunt from Ambert to Vals-les-Bains, but only a little bit. The racers faced six categorized climbs over the 183 kilometer route, but were fortunate to find them all in the category 3 and 4 range. The break wrested free in the opening kilometers of the stage and built up a comfortable gap early. The break numbered six for most of the day with one other coming up after 21 kilometers. The Spaniard De la Cruz crashed out of the break soon after to make it six on the day. It would remain so until 40 kilometers remaining when the winning break wrested free of the remaining three. The trio cooperated well together and took advantage of the confusion behind in the field. With 300 meters to go, the German, Rosch went first, but he was brought back easily in the sprint with both Frenchmen, Hardy and Bardet, getting the better of him.Just over two minutes behind, a select group of about 40 came to the line to fight for the scraps.

Friday's Stage 5 is a 153 kilometer day from Vals-les-Bains to Loriol-sur-Drome. The rather innocuous stage throws up a category three climb with 12.5 kilometers remaining, which could shake things up in the finale.

The intermediate stages will take a backseat as the Tour of the Future heads into the mountains for the weekend. Saturday's sixth stage will include two category one climbs, one category two, and three category threes. The race finishes with the 14 kilometer ascent to the French mountain town of Risoul, 879 meters above the town of Guillestre, where the climb begins.

Sunday's finale will be a repeat of Saturday's finish - 13.5 kilometers from Guillestre to Risoul. The actual climb that will decide this year's Tour de l'Avenir measures 12.8 kilometers long and averages 7%, all held together by 14 switchbacks.

Stage 4 Results
1. Romain Hardy (Fra) France A 4:33:53
2. Romain Bardet (Fra) France B
3. David Rosch (Ger) Germany
4. Jean Lou Paiani (Fra) France B 0:02:00
5. Michael Matthews (Aus) Australia 0:02:06
6. John Degenkolb (Ger) Germany
7. Luke Rowe (GBr) Great Britain
8. Sylwester Janiszewski (Pol) Poland
9. Alexei Tsatevich (Rus) Russian Federation
10. Marko Kump (Slo) Slovenia

General Classification
1. Yannick Eijssen (Bel) Belgium 16:28:06
2. Romain Bardet (Fra) France B 0:00:17
3. Jarlinson Pantano Gomez (Col) Colombia
4. David Rosch (Ger) Germany 0:00:45
5. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Netherlands 0:00:54
6. Thomas Bonnin (Fra) France A 0:01:14
7. Nairo Alexander Quintanarojas (Col) Colombia 0:01:17
8. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Spain 0:01:19
9. Darwin Atapuma (Col) Colombia 0:01:25
10. Higinio Fernandez Suarez (Spa) Spain 0:01:33
11. Andrew Talansky (USA) United States of America 0:01:35
12. John Degenkolb (Ger) Germany 0:01:44


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