Illness of two key CCC Sprandi Polkowice riders turned out to be a big blow for the “orange squad” in Royal Bernard Drome Classic.
Info: February 26th, Livron – Livron, 209km
The day’s main breakaway was formed around 20km mark, and 5 riders were included in that move: Gatis Smukulis (Delko Marseille-Provence KTM), Jens Wallays (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Nicolas Baldo (HP BTP-Auber 93), Martijn Tusveld (Roompot Oranje Peloton) and Kévin Lebreton (Armée de Terre). They worked hard to gain 7 minutes of advantage, while CCC Sprandi Polkowice and Direct Energie paced the bunch early on.
It wasn’t easy for the “orange squad” to control the gap, since both Nikolay Mihaylov and Simone Ponzi had to abandon due to sickness.
In the second part of the stage some changes in the front occurred. Tusveld fell behind, while Aqua Blue Sport duo – Lars Petter Nordhaug and Calvin Watson – managed to bridge across. While joining the escape, the gap was at 1:30.
In the hilly terrain the breakaway got shattered and Watson, together with Baldo were the last two riders to get caught, with 45km to go.
The finale was very lively and frequent attacks reduced the leading peloton to just 30 riders. Unfortunately the “orange team” didn’t make the final cut.
Short, but steep “bump” just before the finish saw huge acceleration and Sebastien Delfosse (WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect) was the one who put the hummer down. He attacked on the climb and held on to his small gap in a technical finale. He bested Artur Vichot (FDJ) and Jan Bakelands (AG2R La Mondiale).
Frantisek Sisr was first CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider at the line (55th).