Latour confirms promise with Tour de Suisse race lead
AG2R La Mondiale's Pierre Latour, winner of three best young rider competitions this season, confirmed his promise by taking the lead at the Tour de Suisse on the first big mountain stage. The 22-year-old, who won the white jersey at Etoile de Bessèges, Critérium International and the Tour de Romandie, jumped away from a select group on the final few hundred metres of the climb to the finish of stage 5 in Cari to take third on the stage.
With the four second time bonus and the two second gap to the chasing group behind, Latour narrowly rode into the race lead - tied on time with Wilco Kelderman (LottoNl-Jumbo), who started the day six seconds ahead of Latour.
"I didn't expect to take the jersey in this race. I aimed at a good ranking, a stage victory and to learn for the future in a hard stage race," Latour said. "At the moment, I can't believe it. There are two hard mountain stages and a time trial to come and I will fight to keep it. We have a great team, very united."
Gilles Mas, AG2R's directeur sportif said Latour is amazing. "Pierre is an amazing young and talented rider, very receptive. He attacked at the right time to go for the third place and take the jersey. We will do our best to keep it. There are two hard stages and a time trial but we are ready to defend it."
Atapuma pounces on Tour de Suisse mountains
Darwin Atapuma (BMC Racing) took out his first Tour de Suisse stage win on Wednesday, pouncing as the breakaway began to get reeled in by an elite chase group containing his teammate Tejay van Garderen on the final hors categorie ascent to Cari on stage 5.
The Colombian left his companions behind with around 6km to go, and had nearly a minute's lead as they were swept up by the chasers. His lead began to plummet as the overall favourites, including van Garderen, began attacking each other, but he held on to win the stage by four seconds.
"I was confident when the breakaway reached the final climb as we still had a reasonable gap," Atapuma said. "I knew that there were two possible scenarios that were good for the team. If Tejay attacked from behind, then I would be there to help him. Or, in case I got close to the finish as we eventually did, I would attack for the win.
"I knew it was possible to win but I needed to stay focused. I had good legs, the others had dropped and I know the climb well. I was waiting for the right moment to attack and when I went I managed to develop a good gap, and it paid off. I had to dig deep in the final kilometer as I knew there were riders getting closer. But I just wanted the win so badly."
Atapuma is just a few weeks off from finishing ninth overall in the Giro d'Italia and missing out on a stage win midway through the Grand Tour. Although his effort on stage 14 was nullified and Esteban Chaves claimed the win, he took confidence from his results when it came to today's Tour de Suisse stage.
"For sure my results at the Giro d'Italia gave me confidence as I know I have good form. The fact that I missed out on a stage win there gave me more motivation and kept me focused for this win. I did everything possible to stay in good form. I'm especially happy because I know how important this win is for BMC Racing Team and our title sponsor BMC Switzerland. To take the win at the Tour de Suisse is really something special for me and the team."
Ferrand-Prevot could face Olympic decision
Although Pauline Ferrand-Prevot has been named to ride in both the road race and the mountain bike event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, L’Équipe has reported that the Frenchwoman might ultimately be forced to limit her participation to just one discipline.
Ferrand-Prevot has endured a difficult 2016 to date. She missed the cyclo-cross campaign after sustaining a tibial plateau fracture during the winter and she was troubled by sciatica early in the season. Her best result on the road thus far was 8th at the Tour of Flanders, while her mountain bike outings have been limited, and she finished a lowly 37th in the third round of the World Cup in La Bresse.
“I’m taking time to cure myself, but in any case, I will be honest about whether I can go there at 100%,” Ferrand-Prevot wrote of the Olympics last week on her Facebook page. “If that’s not the case in the months to come, I’ll vacate my place.”
French Cycling Federation doctor Jacky Maillot has acknowledged that it seems increasingly difficult for Ferrand-Prevot to tackle both the road race, which takes place on August 7, and the mountain bike event, scheduled for August 20. “I think that she will be obliged to make a choice,” he told L’Équipe.
The 24-year-old Ferrand-Prevot has the rare distinction of landing rainbow jersey in three different disciplines. She won the road world title in Ponferrada in 2014, and then became world champion in both cyclo-cross and mountain bike the following year.
Landa to ride time trial at Spanish Championships
Mikel Landa (Sky) will tackle both the individual time trial and the road race at the Spanish national championships, according to Biciclismo.
Landa abandoned the Giro d’Italia through illness when the race resumed after the second rest day, but he returned to competitive action with a solid showing at the Critérium du Dauphiné in support of Chris Froome, and is in line to participate in the Tour de France.
Prior to his abandon at the Giro, Landa had exceeded expectations with his performance in the hilly, rain-soaked Chianti time trial. Seemingly buoyed by his progress against the watch since joining Sky from Astana in the off-season, the Basque will tackle the undulating Spanish national time trial championship.
The 43-kilometre course around Ibi is a rolling one, and includes the Alto de Revoltes and a climb to the finish line, for a total elevation gain of 520 metres. The time trial takes place on Thursday June 23 and is followed two days later by a demanding road race. The 193-kilometre course around Cocentaina has a total elevation gain of some 2,500 metres.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), who haven’t lined out since 2011 and 2007, respectively, are both expected to join Landa in the field for the road race.