Team Columbia's Linus Gerdemann took overall victory in the four-day Tour de L'Ain stage race on Wednesday, proving that he is back to his best after breaking his femur and damaging knee ligaments in March.
He had to miss the most of the first part of the season and the Tour de France but worked hard in the gym and with physiotherapists to make a rapid recovery from his serious injuries. Gerdemann's win in France rewarded him for all his hard work and patience.
On the final day, his Team Columbia controlled numerous attacks during the 138km stage, as Gerdemann marked main rivals David Moncoutié (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) and Stéphane Goubert (AG2R La Mondiale). The stage finished with three laps of a hilly circuit, and Moncoutié made a strong attack as a bid to win. Only 20 racers remained at the front, including Gerdemann, who with the help of team-mate Tony Martin, made sure Moncoutié did not gain any time.
Frenchman John Gadret won the final stage four with a late solo attack but Linus kept his 12-second lead on Moncoutié, with Goubert finishing third overall at 36 seconds.
"It wasn't an easy final stage but we came away with a morale boosting win for Linus. This is an important victory for him as he prepares for the Tour of Germany," directeur sportif Valerio Piva said after the race.
"This is good win for Linus and for the team," said Piva. "He hasn't raced a lot this year because of his crash but he's coming into some good form."
Gerdemann will race in Italy next week, riding the Trittico Lombardo back-to-back one-day races, before beginning his final block of training for the Tour of Germany.
"We are not doing the Vuelta a España but we've still got a very busy race programme in the final three months of the season," Piva said.
"We'll have a strong team in the Italian races, at the Eneco Tour that starts next week, at the Tour of Germany with Linus and also in the Tour of Ireland, the Tour of Missouri in the USA and the Tour of Britain." Piva was optimistic for the team's chances of more wins in the latter part of the season.