We pick up the action in the opening kilometres of the second edition of the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, which brings the peloton from Vaison-la-Romaine to the summit of Mont Ventoux for a total of more than 4,000m of climbing. Last year an epilogue to the Critérium du Dauphiné, this year's event is a preamble to the Tour de l'Ain, which gets underway tomorrow, but, above all, it is a staging post en route the Tour de France, which is just over three weeks away.
124 starters were flagged away from the start at 10.36 CET and there was an immediate flurry of attacks, as well as an early crash in the peloton. The race has settled since then and we pick up the action after 15km with eight riders out in front with a lead of 3:30 over the bunch.
The escapees are: Carmelo Urbano Fontiveros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Lewis Askey (Groupama-FDJ), Jose Gonçalves (Nippo Delko One Provence), Juan Felipe Osorio Arboleda (Burgos-BH), Alessandro Monaco (Bardiani-CSF), Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Marlon Gaillard (Total Direct Energie) and Robert Scott (Canyon dhb p/b Soreen).
The leaders hit the day's first classified climb, the Col de Fontaube, with a lead of 6 minutes over the peloton, where Arkea-Samsic are setting the tempo on behalf of the pre-race favourite Nairo Quintana.
The Fontaube is a relatively gentle ascent and unlikely to do much damage beyond steadily adding metres to that daunting overall altitude gain of 4,000m. There isn’t much by way of flat on today’s route, as the race winds clockwise around Mont Ventoux before reaching the base of the Giant of Provence at Bedoin after 89km. The first time around, they ascend 13.2km as far as Chalet Reynard, site of Quintana’s win at the Tour de La Provence earlier this year and Thomas De Gendt’s victory on the shortened stage here on the 2016 Tour de France.
That is far from the end of the day’s climbing, however, as riders swing off to the right, drop down Mont Ventoux and then circle back to Bedoin to do it all over again. The second and final haul up Mont Ventoux is the whole nine yards – or, more accurately, the whole 19.4km – as competitors climb all the way to the observatory at the top, 1912m above sea level.
The Fontaube is, however, doing some damage to the break's lead. Arkea-Samsic's steady pace-setting on the ascent has chipped away considerably at the deficit, which has dropped inside 4 minutes.
Over the top of the Fontaube, the break's lead is at 3:30. A reminder of the eight escapees: Carmelo Urbano Fontiveros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Lewis Askey (Groupama-FDJ), Jose Gonçalves (Nippo Delko One Provence), Juan Felipe Osorio Arboleda (Burgos-BH), Alessandro Monaco (Bardiani-CSF), Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Marlon Gaillard (Total Direct Energie) and Robert Scott (Canyon dhb p/b Soreen).
Away from the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, the Deceuninck-QuickStep team has described Fabio Jakobsen's condition as 'stable' after he underwent five and a half hours of facial surgery in Sosnowiec. The Dutch champion remains in an induced coma after he was injured in an horrific crash in the finishing straight of stage 1 of the Tour de Pologne in Katowice on Wednesday. "His situation is stable at the moment and later today the doctors will try to wake Fabio up,” read the statement from Deceuninck-QuickStep.
Four minutes the advantage for the break. Arkea-Samsic lead the peloton, though delegations from Astana are also prominent towards the front. They have both Miguel Angel Lopez and Aleksandr Vlasov in their ranks today. Vlasov was 4th at Chalet Reynard in February's Tour de La Provence, after winning the previous day's uphill finish at La Ciotat. The Russian arrives at the foot of Mont Ventoux in sparkling form, having been the last man to withstand the Ineos assault on the Col de Beyrede at the Route d'Occitanie on Monday. He placed third there and third in the general classification.
Vlasov, incidentally, is a native of Vyborg, the city near the Finnish border that was also home to 1994 Giro d'Italia winner Evgeni Berzin. Vlasov won the under-23 version of the Giro in 2018, and this is his first year at WorldTour level after joining Astana from Gazprom-Rusvelo during the off-season.
The break covered 39.4km in the opening hour of racing.
Carmelo Urbano Fontiveros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Lewis Askey (Groupama-FDJ), Jose Gonçalves (Nippo Delko One Provence), Juan Felipe Osorio Arboleda (Burgos-BH), Alessandro Monaco (Bardiani-CSF), Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Marlon Gaillard (Total Direct Energie) and Robert Scott (Canyon dhb p/b Soreen).
Peloton at 4:10
Richie Porte is on hand today for Trek-Segafredo before lining out at the Tour de l'Ain tomorrow and the Criterium du Dauphine next week. The Australian placed 6th overall at the Route d'Occitanie, where he said there was little that could be done against the strength of Team Ineos on the Col de Beyrede. "I went a little bit into the red and then dropped back, but there was no way anyone could have attacked them," Porte told Cyclingnews earlier this week. "It would have been pointless. Anyone who attacked would have been reeled in almost right away.” Porte has been linked with a return to the British team in 2021, though he preferred not to discuss his future at this point in the season. Read the full story from Pete Cossins here.
This race marks Nairo Quintana's first competitive outing in just under five months. His last appearance ended in victory atop at La Colmiane on the final stage of Paris-Nice, and that was his fifth triumph since signing for Arkea-Samsic, after claiming his overall victories at the Tour de La Provence and the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, and his mountain stage wins at Chalet Reynard and the Col d'Eze. “I really wanted to start the season well and that’s what happened,” Quintana said, according to L’Équipe. “In hindsight and taking into consideration what happened in the world since, those wins were already very important, for me and the team. I’m going into the upcoming races above all with tranquillity. Now, I need to find those same good sensations before the Tour.”
It's been a relatively brisk morning of racing so far, and the escapees are not far from Bedoin and the first of the day's hauls up Mont Ventoux. Arkea-Samsic continue to patrol the head of the peloton.
Carmelo Urbano Fontiveros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Lewis Askey (Groupama-FDJ), Jose Gonçalves (Nippo Delko One Provence), Juan Felipe Osorio Arboleda (Burgos-BH), Alessandro Monaco (Bardiani-CSF), Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Marlon Gaillard (Total Direct Energie) and Robert Scott (Canyon dhb p/b Soreen) hold an advantage in excess of five minutes over the peloton with those two ascents (or rather, one and two-thirds ascents) of Mont Ventoux still to come.
While Arkea-Samsic, Trek-Segafredo and Astana continue to lead the peloton, it's worth recalling that last year's winner Jesus Herrada is on hand as part of a strong Cofidis squad that also includes Guillaume Martin. This, too, is Martin's first race since Paris-Nice, where he placed 7th at La Colmiane. The Frenchman will ride the Tour de l'Ain and the Criterium du Dauphine as he builds towards the Tour de France.
It feels a long, long time ago now, but we sat down with Guillaume Martin at the Vuelta a San Juan in January to discuss his move to Cofidis, his ambitions for the Tour, and his life as a writer. Martin's excellent Socrate à vélo (‘Socrates on a bike') was published last year, while last July, his play Platon versus Platoche was performed at the Festival d’Avignon while he was on duty at the Tour. There is a playfulness to Martin's writing and his style on the bike, but, as he told us in January, it's a game he takes seriously. “When you talk about a game, you have the image of something trivial, but for me, a game is very, very serious, so that means that this game, cycling, is something that I do very seriously,” Martin said. Read the full interview here.
The leaders have passed through Bedoin and are about to take on the first ascent of Mont Ventoux. Their lead over the peloton stands at just over 4 minutes.
Carmelo Urbano Fontiveros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Lewis Askey (Groupama-FDJ), Jose Gonçalves (Nippo Delko One Provence), Juan Felipe Osorio Arboleda (Burgos-BH), Alessandro Monaco (Bardiani-CSF), Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Marlon Gaillard (Total Direct Energie) and Robert Scott (Canyon dhb p/b Soreen)
Peloton at 4:15
The break is grinding through the forestry at the foot of Mont Ventoux, a stiff and seemingly interminable grind. A reminder that they will not go all the way to the exposed summit on this first ascent. They will instead swing off to the right at Chalet Reynard and drop to Sault before circling the base of the mountain for a second and full ascent.
Dylan Groenewegen has made his first public response to his role in the crash at the Tour de Pologne that saw his fellow countryman Fabio Jakobsen sustain serious injury. Jakobsen underwent facial surgery overnight and remains in an induced coma. His Deceuninck-QuickStep team described his condition this morning as stable. "I hate what happened yesterday. I can't find the words to describe how sorry I am for Fabio and others who have fallen or been hit," Groenewegen wrote on Twitter. "At the moment, the health of Fabio is the most important thing. I think about him constantly."
Ik vind het verschrikkelijk wat er gisteren gebeurd is. Ik kan de woorden niet vinden om te beschrijven hoe erg ik het vind voor Fabio en anderen die zijn gevallen of geraakt.Op dit moment is vooral de gezondheid van Fabio het allerbelangrijkste. Ik denk aan hem, constant.August 6, 2020
At the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, there has been an uptick in the intensity of the main peloton despite the temperatures in excess of 30°C. The break's lead has dropped accordingly, and it now stands at 2 minutes.
Garikoitz Bravo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) attacks from the break as the gradient bites further on Mont Ventoux. Basque teams in orange have some previous on the Giant of Provence. Iban Mayo set the record time up Mont Ventoux when he won the time trial here en route to overall victory at the 2004 Dauphiné.
Bravo's attack has fractured the break beyond repair. The Spaniard is alone in front, 15 seconds ahead of Marlon Gaillard (Total-Direct Energie), Jose Goncalves (Nippo Delko One) and Alessandro Monaco (Bardiani-CSF), while the a rapidly shrinking peloton is just two minutes down and picking off the remnants of the break, starting with Askey and Scott.
Garikoitz Bravo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) reaches Chalet Reynard alone at the head of the race. The Basque begins the descent off the mountainside with a lead of 30 seconds or so over Gonçalves, Monaco and Gaillard.
Astana took up the reins in the peloton on that first ascent of Mont Ventoux. The Kazakhstani squad succeeded in thinning out the bunch considerably and their deficit on Bravo stands at two minutes. It remains to be seen whether Astana are riding in support of Miguel Angel Lopez or Aleksandr Vlasov. At the Route d'Occitanie, the Russian was their anointed leader, but Lopez is building towards his Tour de France debut and he will surely want the chance to gauge his own form on this mighty ascent.
Astana have brought a very strong climbing team to this race, with Lopez and Vlasov joined by Hernando Bohorquez, Merhawi Kudus, Harold Tejada, Luis Leon Sanchez and Oscar Rodriguez.
When Robbie McEwen was still racing, he approached both the UCI and ASO with a barrier designed to protect sprinters who crash in bunch sprints. Eight years on from his retirement, safety measures appear to improved little, as Wednesday's horrific crash at the Tour de Pologne demonstrated. Speaking to Cyclingnews, McEwen stressed that he did not condone Dylan Groenewegen's manoeuvre in the sprint, but he pointed out that the design of the finish area seemed to exacerbate the consequences of the crash.
"I put forward a barrier design to both the UCI and the ASO at the same time, for exactly the circumstances like this," McEwen said. "While things have improved at some races, a good barrier set-up has to be solid, it can’t come apart, and it’s got to be heavy. The board on the front of the barrier also has to come down at an angle and meet the road. Everything has to deflect the rider back onto the road.
"The barriers in Poland flew every which way, and it looked to me like they were made of plastic. One of them broke into pieces and that doesn’t happen with the metal ones. There’s a lot to be done in regard to safety in the last few hundred meters.”
Read the full story here.
Back at the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, Bravo has extended his lead over the chasing trio to more than a minute, while his buffer over the peloton has extended to 2:40.
Garikoitz Bravo (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Chasers at 1:10:
Jose Gonçalves (Nippo Delko One Provence), Alessandro Monaco (Bardiani-CSF Faizane') and Marlon Gaillard (Total Direct Energie)
Peloton at 2:40
Into the final 50km for Bravo, who has 2:05 in hand on the chasers and 2:30 on the peloton.
Jose Gonçalves (Nippo Delko One Provence), Alessandro Monaco (Bardiani-CSF Faizane') and Marlon Gaillard (Total Direct Energie) are on the cusp of being caught by the peloton, where Astana are still setting the tempo.
The Astana-led bunch have swept up the three chasers, and they are 2:23 down on the lone leader Garikoitz Bravo (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) reportedly had mechanical trouble ahead of the first ascent of Mont Ventoux, but the Frenchman is safely on board this reduced peloton. All of the pre-race favourites - men like Quintana, Richie Porte, Fabio Aru and, of course, the Astana duo of Lopez and Vlasov - are in this peloton, which is a little under 30km from the foot of Mont Ventoux.
Seconds are dropping off Bravo's lead and the peloton is now at 1:45.
Arkea-Samsic were controlling the peloton in the early part of the race on behalf of Nairo Quintana but they're content to allow Astana hold the reins for the time being as they sweep past the Gorges de la Nesque. 1:27 the gap to Bravo.
It will be interesting to see how Fabio Aru fares this afternoon on Mont Ventoux. His tenure at UAE Team Emirates has been blighted by injury but he placed a 9th overall at the Vuelta a Burgos last week on his return to action. "To be honest, maybe if I'd finished in the top five, I'd have been a bit happier but in any case, I was up there close to the top riders and for the first race back, it's not bad," Aru told Cyclingnews in Burgos. Alasdair Fotheringham has the full story here.
Joe Dombrowski is also on hand for UAE Team Emirates today, in his first race since the Volta ao Algarve in February.
Astana continue to pile on the pressure in the peloton on this undulating approach to Mont Ventoux. Bravo's lead is down to 1:18.
There are strong delegations from Trek-Segafredo and Arkea-Samsic lined up behind the Astana cohort at the head of the peloton. All eyes will be on Nairo Quintana once the road begins to climb again, but he will surely face stiff competition from Lopez, Vlasov, Porte, Aru, Martin and more.
33km to go and our lone leader has 1'13 on the peloton, with Astana, Trek and Arkea contributing to the chase. In the very distance we can see the summit of Ventoux but today's race only goes as high as Chalet Reynard.
The road continues downhill until we reach the base of the final ascent. It's all Astana on the front right now with the gap at 1'24.
Quintana has reportedly had ten days off the bike but he was flying earlier in the season, and it will be fascinating to see how he gets on here. He'll know the climb very well, and he has his team tucked behind Astana and Trek for now.
A final feed before the climb as Astana ease up slightly. This should allow Bravo to extend his lead before the climb, with the gap currently at 1'24 with 25km to go.
The wind is picking up but it's a cross-wind at the moment as the road levels out and then gently starts to rise. Back in the main field we're down to about 40-50 riders.
Cofidis come the front as they look to position Martin before the final climb, and Herrada, who won here last year.
Bravo begins the ascent of Mont Ventoux, but the reduced peloton has closed to within 20 seconds of the Basque on this, the beckoning antechamber of the Bald Mountain.
Bravo checks over his shoulder and sees the group of favourites inching ever closet to him. By the time he looks back again, they are upon him.
Bravo is caught by a peloton made up of perhaps 50 or so riders. We can expect the this front group to be whittled down considerably once the gradient begins to bite.
Arkea-Samsic and Cofidis have men on the front of this group, while the powerful Astana delegation are tucked in right behind them.
Astana are back in front, though Toms Skuijns leads his Trek-Segafredo teammate Julien Bernard, Giulio Ciccone and Richie Porte towards the head of this reduced peloton.
The gradient is relatively gentle at this point, but the road will start to tilt upwards presently. The intensity is already rising a notch or two in this peloton and some riders are being jettisoned off the back.
Julen Amazqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Simone Petilli (Circus-Groupe Gobert) attack from the front group and open a small lead as the gradient stiffens considerably into double digits.
Amazqueta later pressed on alone but he was quickly pegged back by the reduced peloton, where Joe Dombrowski and Tobias Ludvigsson are among the riders dropped from this ever-reducing front group.
Apologies for the brief technical issues. In the intervening period, Astana have whittled down the front group still further, and now Edward Ravasi (UAE Team Emirates) has attacked alone.
Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) sets out in lone pursuit of Ravasi and the Frenchman is about to make it a duo at the head of the race.
Indeed, Latour accelerates as soon as he catches Ravaii and he puts a small gap into the Italian. He has about 15 seconds or so in hand on the reduced group of favourites.
The Astana hierarchy is defined with 9.5km to go, as Miguel Angel Lopez is dropped from the group of favourites. It's all about Vlasov for Astana now.
Latour initially looked to be struggling to shake off Ravasi but now he has found his rhythm. He climbs from the saddle, his jersey flapping open, and accelerates again to stretch out a decent buffer. Ravasi, meanwhile, has been caught by the group of favourites, which is being led by Skuijns.
Latour has 12 seconds in hand on a group of fifteen riders or so, which includes Porte, Vlasov, Aru, Porte and Quintana.
A fine cameo here from Toms Skujins, who has clawed Latour's lead back to 9 seconds with 8km of climbing to go.
Just 13 riders in this group behind Latour. Guillaume Martin and Jesus Herrada are also in here for Cofidis, as is Porte's teammate Kenny Elissonde. Skujins still sets the pace.
Skujins swings over and now Tejada takes over for Astana. There is a slight lull, however, and so Cofidis come to the front to keep piling on the pressure.
Pierre Latour is fully committed to his effort at the front of the race and his lead over the group of favourites is 12 seconds. Fernando Barcelo sets the pace for Cofidis with Guillaume Martin on his wheel.
Fabio Aru sits in fourth wheel and looks relatively comfortable, though few riders are making it look as effortless as Quintana, who sits a little further back. That said, Quintana rarely betrays signs of suffering on good days or bad...
Latour grimaces, looks back and then climbs out of the saddle again. Now Guillaume Martin accelerates from the chasing group behind and sets out in lone pursuit...
That was a very crisp acceleration from Guillaume Martin and he looks well capable of maintaining his effort as he bridges across towards Latour. There was no immediate reaction from the group of favourites.
Guillaume Martin catches Latour and rides side by side with his fellow countryman.
Martin leads with Latour on his wheel. This duo have a lead of at least 15 seconds over the chasers, where Fabio Aru has launched an acceleration of his own.
Tejada tracked Aru's move and refuses to come through when the Italian asks for a turn. Elissonde looks to pace Porte, Vlasov, Quintana et al back up to Aru and Tejada.
Shades of Pantani on the Ventoux in 2000 as Miguel Angel Lopez battles his way back up to the rear of the Quintana group. Martin and Latour, meanwhile, have a lead of 20 seconds or perhaps more...
Martin doesn't want company. He makes a couple of sustained accelerations and he eventually shakes off Latour. The Cofidis rider is alone at the head of the race. Latour's challenge is over.
Well, Latour looked like a many ready to sit up, but now he has recommitted himself to his effort. He surely won't catch the smooth pedalling Martin, who has 18 seconds on the favourites, at least per the on-screen graphics, which do not appear to be the most reliable.
Trek-Segafredo's Elissonde and Porte lead the group of favourites, having clawed back Aru and Tejafa. They are 20 seconds down on Martin, with Latour somewhere in between.
Guillaume Martin emerges from the selva oscura at the base of Mont Ventoux bursts into the light of the exposed upper reaches. He has 20 seconds in hand on Latour at Chalet Reynard and a little more on the 11-strong group of chasers.
Martin is still pedalling very smoothly indeed and is managing his advantage well over the chasers, though we can surely expect some fierce accelerations from Vlasov, Quintana et al closer to the top.
Tejada sets the pace with Elissonde and Porte behind him. Quintana, Lopez, VLasov, Aru and Tony Gallopin are also in this group...
Vlasov accelerates from the chasing group and he bridges swiftly across to Latour. He drops Latour after a brief tussle and sets off in pursuit of Martin. The chasing group has fragmented behind, as Porte and Quintana chase Vlasov, distancing Aru, Lopez et al.
Guillaume Martin leads Vlasov by 24 seconds. Porte and Quintana have caught and passed Latour, and are closing in on Vlasov...
Nairo Quintana in difficulty... Richie Porte accelerates in a bid to catch Vlasov and Quintana can't hold his wheel...
It's each man for himself on the upper reaches of Mont Ventoux. Martin is first on the road, but Vlasov is closing in on him. Porte is third on the road, Quintana is alone in fourth.
Vlasov catches Martin and he climbs from the saddle in an attempt to blast past him. The Frenchman is a redoubtable foe, however, and he withstands the attack. Two men at the head of the race, while Richie Porte gives lone chase...
Richie Porte gets to within 25 metres or so of the Vlasov-Martin tandem bu then the Russian accelerates once again and they distance Porte.
And then there was one. Martin couldn't hold Vlasov's searing acceleration. The Russian is alone at the head of the race and seemingly destined for victory.
Richie Porte catches Guillaume Martin, and this duo will attempt to claw back Vlasov, but unless the Russian has over-estimated his strength, it's hard to imagine they'll see him again before the top.
Quintana and Lopez make up the third group on the road, but they look to be out of contention for the honours at this late juncture.
Richie Porte drops Martin and sets off alone in a bid to close the gap on Vlasov. The Russian has 15 seconds in hand, however, and he shows few signs of letting up.
Vlasov is alone in front. Porte is at 15 seconds, with Martin alone in third on the road. Quintana is in the fourth group on the road with Lopez and Kenny Elissonde.
This has been a determined effort from Richie Porte, who is refusing to yield. Even now and then he claws back a few metres on Vlasov, but the Russian is holding on to most of his advantage on this upper slopes.
Vlasov carries a lead of 14 seconds into the final kilometre. He keeps checking over his shoulder for Porte, who is producing a fine ride and is poised to capitalise should Vlasov crack.
Vlasov keeps grimacing and keeps looking over his shoulder. He is suffering but not struggling. Porte is closing in ever so gradually, but the Tasmanian may just run out of road.
Onto the final ramps for Vlasov, who has steadied himself considerably in these closing metres. Victory will be his...
Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) wins the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge.
Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) takes second at 14 seconds.
Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) is third at 56 seconds. The Frenchman deserved a podium place at the very least given his courageous attack.
Another brave effort came from Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale), who comes home in fourth, at 1:26.
Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) is 5th at 1:36. Lopez (Astana) is a little behind him in 6th.
Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) comes home in 7th place, while Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) is 8th at 1:54 or so.
Aleksandr Vlasov was the form rider, and he confirmed his status with victory on Mont Ventoux. It's the Russian champion's second win of 2020 after his stage win at the Tour de La Provence in February. Vlasov hails from Vyborg, like 1994 Giro d'Italia winner Evgeni Berzin and he signalled his talent two years ago by winning the under-23 version of the Giro. This is Vlasov's first year at WorldTour level, having joined from Gazprom-Rusvelo.
Correction, it was Harold Tejada who placed 6th. Astana's Miguel Angel Lopez had a more trying ascent of Mont Ventoux, though he does come home in 12th on the day, 2:54 down on Vlasov.
1 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana Pro Team 04:56:39
2 Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:18
3 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 00:00:59
4 Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:01:29
5 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 00:01:38
6 Harold Tejada (Col) Astana Pro Team 00:01:43
7 Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo 00:01:51
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa-Samsic 00:01:57
9 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis) 00:02:15
10 Valentin Madous (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 00:02:32
Richie Porte had praise for Vlasov's display at the Route d'Occitanie earlier in the week, but the Australian rode well to push the winner all the way to the summit here. "He’s some talent," Porte said after the Route d'Occitanie's summit finish at the Col de Beyrede. "When we saw Superman López collecting bottles from the team car the day before we wondered what was going on, and clearly that young guy Vlasov was their pick for this race. He’s going to make a real name for himself.”
Aleksandr Vlasov on his victory: "It's a very famous mountain, the mountain of champions so I'm very, very happy to win here. I'm happy with my performance and with the teamwork. We did a good job. I felt very good and I tried to attack. I'm very happy. Now I will go in Italy for the Classics. With my shape, I hope to get some good results in the Giro dell'Emilia or Il Lombardia, it's a very nice race. And I want to do my best."
That was Guillaume Martin's first race since February and an encouraging return to competition as he builds towards the Tour. It was also Nairo Quintana's first outing since Paris-Nice and it's worth bearing in mind that the Colombian spent some time off the bike after he crashed in training at the end of June. Both riders will line out at the Tour de l'Ain, which gets underway tomorrow.
Thanks for joining our live coverage of the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge today on Cyclingnews. A full report and results are available here.
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