Vuelta a Espana: Latour shows Grand Tour potential with Alto de Aitana stage win

AG2R-La Mondiale rider enjoys debut Vuelta a Espana experience

Pierre Latour added his name to the list of first time Grand Tour stage winners at the 2016 Vuelta a Espana on the penultimate day of racing and in doing so, announced himself as a rider to watch in the three week races.

The 22-year-old started his debut Grand Tour with the role of leading the team's general classification aspirations with Jean-Christophe Péraud as his foil. The decisive stage to Forimgal proved to be Latour's undoing in a bid for top-10 result though as he was caught out when Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador took the race by the scruff of the neck.

"The team wanted me to ride for GC so that I could accumulate experience but in the stage to Formigal last Sunday I was in the wrong group, I was a bit stiff at the start of this stage," said Latour, adding "I still can't manage to be consistent. So then I tried to get into the breakaways. It's complicated but today all went well."

Latour notched his first top-10 stage result on the steep slopes of Peña Cabarga to demonstrate his capabilities. 17th the following day saw him rise to a race high of 17th on general classification and following to stage 15's jaunt to Formigal, Latour switched focus to a third week stage win and came up trumps at the final opportunity.

"I did not really realize what happened. On the last climb, I began to believe in it but I was not sure of myself," he said.

With 500m to go, the breakaway was down to Latour and Darwin Atapuma (BMC) with the latter looking more of the duo to take the win. Coming around the final corner, Latour made his move and jumped away to take his first win at WorldTour level.

"[Robert] Gesink was riding very hard and I hung on. I was really motivated because I had not won yet this year and I did not want to miss this opportunity, especially after Axel Domont and Jan Bakelants had been in so many breaks during the week without being rewarded. The final was a great fight," added Latour who sits 29th overall.

"I am very happy. It is to enjoy such moments that I ride my bike. I'm pleased with my first Grand Tour. There was a great atmosphere in the team and I learned a lot." 

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