After a stage that seemed more like a procession at the Tour de France, with only a crescendo finale and power sprint on the rising finish in Angers won by Mark Cavendish, it was difficult to identify a rider who deserved the Cyclingnews Rider of the Day honours. However Armindo Fonseca of Fortuneo-Vital Concept deserves it after going on the attack alone from the very start of the stage.
While the rest of the pack rolled along on the gentle rolling roads of La Manche, ille-et-Vilaine, Mayenne and through Marco Madiot's hometown of Renazé, Fonseca forged on alone, enjoying his day out front in the spotlight.
He attacked virtually from the start of the stage in Granville and was only caught by the peloton eight kilometres from the finish. The sprinters' teams played with Fonseca and later Thomas Voeckler –who joined the attack with 90km to go, like a cat playing with a mouse, but it was still a huge effort and display of courage by the Fortuneo-Vital Concept rider.
The peloton was probably not aware that Fonseca was one of the ‘regionaux’ - the local riders of the stage, who live close by and always feel special motivation to perform on their local stage. He went on the attack with a mission: ride out front on his home roads and make his family and his sponsors proud. He was no doubt hoping to be part of a breakaway but ploughed on alone, enjoying over five hours of fame.
Fonseca is one of four Breton riders in this year's Tour de France but only secured his place in the final nine for the French Professional Continental team on the Tuesday morning before he started of the race. He has two French wins on his palmares: a stage at the 2014 Boucles de la Mayenne and the Tour de Vendée, also in 2014. He is in the race to help British sprinter Dan McLay and climber Eduardo Sepúlveda. However today he was given his freedom and took it.
Incredibly, the official Prix de la Combatitive was awarded to Voeckler for his decision to break the go-slow in the peloton and join Fonseca up the road. Voeckler loves to spend time off the front and in the spotlight but even he was embarrassed to be given the prize that deserved to go to Fonseca.
Stephen Farrand: While Mark Cavendish merits recognition for his superb sprint and second victory at this year's Tour de France, I feel it was only right to give the Cyclingnews Rider of the Day to Fonseca.
The stage started in Granville, close to Coutances, where French writer Alberto Londres interviewed the Pélissier brothers and legend has it coined the phrase 'Forcats de la route' – 'Convicts of the road', after they revealed their suffering and the drugs they took to try to compete in the Tour de France.
Fonseca sparked his own as a convict of the road on the way to Angers in an act of defiance and pride. He deserves to be the rider of the day.
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