Race report

Tim Naberman into intermediate sprints jersey, Niklas Märkl best finisher in chaotic sprint

Boucles de la Mayenne

After the gaps in yesterday’s stage, a lot of riders found themselves quite far down on GC so there was a chance that the breakaway could stay away to fight for the victory. Consequently, there was a big battle amongst the peloton to make the move. A group of seven managed to get clear, with Development Team Sunweb’s Tim Naberman riding well to make the break for the second day in a row.

The group continued to work well together, extending their gap to three minutes and 30 seconds. However, the peloton was interested in keeping them close and the break would ultimately split on the rolling terrain in the final 40 kilometres, with Naberman dropping back to the bunch. Despite some attacks in the finale, everything came back together and the stage was decided by a reduced bunch sprint. Niklas Märkl was first home for the team in the chaotic finale, finishing just outside the top 20 on the day.

After his exploits in the breakaway, Naberman moves into the lead of the intermediate sprints classification with one stage remaining.

“Today the race was full gas for the first half an hour, and it was really hard to get into the break,” explained Naberman. “After some echelons formed the peloton slowed down and I knew this was the moment to get into the break, so I went full gas to get into it. In the break I tried to get the mountain jersey but the current leader was also in the attack so I was not able to take that. However, I took the intermediate sprint jersey today; a result which is really nice after two tough stages in the break. Now it is over to tomorrow and I’ll try my best to defend the jersey and win it for the team.”

Märkl added: “In general it was a really tough day out there but Tim rode a really strong race to be in the break and take the intermediate points jersey. The guys did well to protect me and Leon throughout the day so we could save as much energy as possible. With around 30 kilometres to go the racing started again and Leon and I were up there. It was really tough and I knew I only had the energy to make one move to the front of the bunch for the sprint. Unfortunately it didn’t work out and I couldn’t start the sprint in a good position. However, I’m happy with my shape and we have one last stage tomorrow to get a good result as a team.”

Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert continued: “It was another difficult stage with a lot of wind which made things tricky at the start. We had an eye on the breakaway with Tim and the guys did well to help set him up for that. He rode well in the move to take the lead in the intermediate sprints jersey. In the finale attacks were flying and Leon was pretty active to cover them, and we tried to save Niklas for the bunch finish. Coming into the last corner Niklas lost some positions and wasn’t able to fully sprint. Again, there are some learning points to take from the day but the guys can be really proud with how they rode; they did a good job against some strong opposition and we’re looking forward to the final stage tomorrow.”