Race report

Felix Gall home safely after a punchy Circuit des Ardennes stage

Circuit des Ardennes

The second stage of Circuit des Ardennes would see the rider’s face a sawtooth profile, with no fewer than ten categorised climbs on the menu. Six of the ten, including all five Cat-1 ascents, would come in the second half of the stage. It was a fast start to the day with several groups getting away but then being brought back and it took for over an hour for a proper breakaway to form. Ten riders managed to escape but they were never given much leeway, with the gap staying at roughly one minute.

In the final third of the day the pace in the peloton continued to ramp up as the number of climbs ticked by. The diminished peloton caught the remainder of the break with around 12 kilometres to go and counter attacks started to fly from the bunch. Felix Gall forced a split with another four riders on the last climb but they only gained a gap of 10 seconds and were closed down just before the top. Some riders came back on during the descent to form a slightly larger group but it would be a counter-attack from Kamp that would see him win the day, with Gall coming home in the peloton seven seconds behind.

Team Sunweb Coach Jelle de Jong talked through the day: “A break of ten got away but they never really gained too big an advantage and the peloton kept control towards the hard finale. The race opened up on the last two climbs and the guys rode well to position Felix coming into the last ascent. He was able to attack and draw four riders with him but they unfortunately never got a big gap. Some guys got back on in the descent but Felix was tired after his attack so didn’t compete at the front in the sprint. We didn’t get a top result but the team showed their strength today and Felix’s form is moving in the right direction, with him now sitting in 12th place on GC.”

Gall added: “It was a tough day today and the team did a great job to protect me throughout the stage. They brought me into a good position for the final two climbs like we had expected this morning. On the last climb I was in a group of five off the front but it was a bit too flat and with a headwind, the peloton closed on us from behind. In the end there was a reduced bunch and in the sprint I could not really go for the win. I was hoping for a bit more today but it is a pity that it all came together again as the team had done a good job all day and I was in some good attacks. Tomorrow there is a two kilometre hill-top finish so hopefully I can do something there.”