Eventually crossing the line in 29th place, just over 2 minutes behind the stage winner, Florian Stork of Development Team Sunweb put in another strong showing on another tough day in the mountains at the Tour de l’Ain.
The final stage of the race only covered 109km in distance, but the parcours featured three tough ascents, the last being the Col du Grand Colombier. Unlike yesterday’s early fireworks, today’s stage started in a more steady rhythm with five riders moving clear on the first climb of the day. As the climb neared its peak however the attacks started to come and the pace started to see riders dropping off the back.
As the kilometres and climbs ticked by, the peloton got smaller with Florian and his three teammates holding firm in the front peloton until the final climb of the day. Together with Joris Nieuwenhuis, Florian held firm until the attacks started to come, exploding the front group. Boris went over the top in the third group, behind Forian in the second chase group on the road into the finish in Culox. Florian ends the race in 24th overall and 5th in the U23 classification.
Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert said after the race: “Today was a short stage but a really intense one with three categorised climbs and another tough non categorised one, so it was always up and down. All the guys were in the bunch until the final climb where Florian & Joris followed for a long time until the bunch exploded under the pressure of FDJ. It was another good performance from the guys today.
“In general for all the riders that finished, they could all make a really good step here. I’m happy with the mood in the team and the focus from the guys – they’ve got the right mindset and the drive was there.”
Florian added: “It was hard on the Grand Colombier to follow the pace and I tried to hang on and follow with the best riders as long as possible. I’m happy with how my form has been here and I’m glad to finish the race in the top five in the U23 classification.”