Eighteen-year-old American Adrien Costa continued to establish his place as one of the best young riders in the world this week when he took the overall win at the Tour de Bretagne, a seven-day French race that hadn’t had a US winner in its 50-year history.
"It hasn't really sunk in because I wasn't thinking about the overall win as a true possibility," said Costa, who took the lead with a winning solo breakaway during stage 4.
"After I won that stage, I tried to enjoy that victory as much as possible," he said. "I didn't put too much pressure on myself for the overall win. Just being a first-year Under 23 rider, I was already happy to have won a stage. So that kind of helped me stay relaxed. I just can't believe it."
Costa won the general classification by seven seconds over Frantisek Sisr (Klein Constantia) of the Czech Republic and by eight seconds over Dutch rider Lennard Hofstede (Rabobank Development Team).
Costa is no stranger to putting in world-class performances, having twice finished second at the junior time trial world championships in 2014 and 2015. He made a splash in the US last year when he finished third overall at the Redlands Bicycle Classic - the opening race on USA Cycling’s national calendar – while he was still a junior. But the win in France this week, his first in the U23 ranks, is another milestone.
Although he normally rides for the Axeon-Hagens Berman Continental team run by Axel Merckx, Costa was competing with the US national team this week in France. USA Cycling U23 director Michael Sayers put Costa’s win into perspective.
"It is not as big as the Amgen Tour of California but it is bigger than the Tour of the Gila or the Redlands Bicycle Classic," he said. "It's a very solid French race. This is the 50th edition so it has been around for quite a while. The guys that have won this race are pretty significant. There are a lot of guys currently in the WorldTour – like Alberto Contador has raced here before and done well. So it has quite a winner's result."
Both Costa and Sayers went out of their way to praise the efforts of Greg Daniel and Sean Bennett in helping Costa protect his jersey during the final stage. After losing three riders on Saturday, Daniel and Bennett were Costa's only teammates on the final day, and he said they delivered.
"We got pretty lucky today because the breakaway that went off today didn't have any big teams," he said. "So their gap never got huge. Sean and Greg did a fantastic job for 60 or 70 kilometers on the front, keeping me out of trouble and keeping the gap manageable. So I had a really relaxed ride into the circuit.
"At the end of the day, today's stage was a lot less stressful mentally and physically than the last two days – especially yesterday when the breakaway had an eight-minute lead and I thought we had lost the race. So in that respect, today was a lot easier day."
Sayers said the team could not have pulled off the overall win without the duo’s effort.
"They set the table for the meal to happen and they need to get recognized for what they did," he said. "They really, really, really dug extremely deep and were completely selfless in the whole process. That really says a lot."
Tour de Bretagne Top 10 overall
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Adrien Costa (USA) USA U23 National Team||28:12:37|
|2||Frantisek Sisr (Cze) Klein Constantia||0:00:07|
|3||Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Rabobank Development Team||0:00:08|
|4||Elie Gesbert (Fra)||0:00:11|
|5||Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Rabobank Development Team||0:00:15|
|6||Fabian Lienhard (Swi)||0:00:20|
|7||Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Group Protect||0:00:28|
|8||Anders Skaarseth (Nor) Team Joker||0:00:31|
|9||Lucas Eriksson (Swe) Team Tre Berg-Bianchi||0:00:33|
|10||Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Seg Racing Academy|