After a tough day of climbing on stage 3 of the Tour de l’Ain, Florian Stork was the first home for Development Team Sunweb in 27th place, 2’39” down on the leading duo at the front of the race.
The stage was always set to be a tough test for the peloton with the first climb coming shortly after the stage start, and immediately riders were put into difficulty. Attacks came and went but it took some time for the first move to establish itself, with three riders pulling clear. Félix Gall was amongst the early attackers, but the move that stuck didn’t contain any of the Sunweb jerseys.
As the peloton ticked off the day’s climbs, the front group got smaller and smaller, and riders pulled clear to replace those at the front of the race. The front peloton, behind a select few leaders, was down to around 15 with Florian initially making the group before losing contact in the final kilometre of the day’s final climb.
Martin Salmon and Nils Eekhoff were both distanced early in the stage, and did not finish, with Nils still suffering from his recent crash. All the others finished to start tomorrow’s final stage.
“Today was a tough mountain stage with 5 KOMs to tackle and cold, wet conditions too,” explained Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert after the stage. “The first climb was already tough and we had Martin and Nils both distanced, while Felix [Gall], Jarno [Mobach] and Florian made the front group. Florian and Felix were still there after the second climb from where the race became more controlled until the penultimate climb.
“When the attacks came the race exploded and Florian rode a very strong race to make the front group but lost contact just before the top of the final climb. It was an impressive ride from Florian and Felix today, both young guys still learning. Tomorrow we will see what we can do again – the guys looked good today and again we’ll try to be a part of the race and get involved.”