Gallopin and Lotto Soudal animate final Tour de France mountain stage
Frenchman aiming for a strong Marseille time trial after Col d'Izoard showing
Since crashing on stage 1 of the Tour de France, the same day his house was burgled and car stolen, Tony Gallopin continues to improve day-by-day at the French Grand Tour
On the final climbing stage of the race to the Col d'Izoard on stage 18, Gallopin was one of the most active members of the breakaway. Gallopin had Lotto Soudal teammates Tiesj Benoot, Thomas De Gendt, and Jürgen Roelandts for company in the early break. Of the quartet, Benoot and Gallopin proved to have the staying power with the Frenchman taking 14th place. The performance came off the back of third place on stage 15 and seventh into Romans-sur-Isère the following day.
"It was no easy beginning for me. I was dropped a few times, but could always come back and even attacked a few times. It was even hard to hang on in the large front group. I was not riding at the front when the selection was made," said Gallopin. "On the Col de Vars I returned to the front and I felt better. I know that climb and descent, so I decided to attack before the top."
Gallopin added that he knew the move was doomed as the survivors of the breakaway failed to work together as the yellow jersey group continued to close down the gap up the Col d'Izoard.
"There was no cooperation though. Atapuma was the best of the escapees," he said. "Winning the stage was impossible for me because the GC riders were so close and because the others were stronger. Still, I can be satisfied."
With two stages expected to finish in a bunch sprint and a time trial in Marseille, Gallopin is hoping Lotto Soudal can finish off the Tour strongly and continue André Greipel's Grand Tour winning streak.
Lotto-Soudal won the final day sprint in Paris last year with Greipel and with the abandonment of Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish from the race, Greipel is the only rider to have previously won the Champs-Élysées and confident of adding to his 2015 and 2016 wins. First though, Gallopin wants success in the Orange Vélodrome.
"Since I have recovered from my ankle injury I have always done my work for the team or I joined a breakaway. I am very pleased about my condition. I hope to ride a good time trial on Saturday," said Gallopin. "It's a distance I like and there's a hill on the course. At the end of the Tour the freshness often counts. And of course I want to help André Greipel win a stage."
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