With a split day of racing at the Ronde de l’Isard today, the peloton were faced with a tricky test in the mountains this morning. A 79 kilometre long route took them over the tough Port de Balès, through Bagnères-de-Luchon before the summit finish at Hopsice-de-France.
As it was short stage, the action was on from the gun with an infernal pace set at the head of the bunch. Some small breakaways managed to form but they were soon quickly brought back as the peloton charged onto the lower slopes of the Port de Balès. On the climb, Nils Sinschek who was buoyed by his strong ride yesterday, broke clear in a group of four. The quartet worked well on the lower slopes before approaching the summit where eventual stage winner Vandenabeele attacked. Sinschek dug deep and rode at his tempo, cresting the climb in second place, around 40 seconds behind the leader with the peloton a further 50 seconds behind him.
On the lower slopes of the final climb Sinschek was reeled in by the peloton of around 20 riders, where he was joined by Leo Hayter and Leon Heinschke. As the final climb began to take its toll riders slowly began to drop from the group, with Heinschke and Sinschek losing contact with around four kilometres to go – both riding their own tempo together all the way to the line. Ahead, Hayter produced an impressive climbing display to take home eighth place on the stage.
With the big gaps on the line throughout the field, Sinschek moves up to third on GC with Heinschke sixth and Hayter thirteenth ahead of this afternoon’s team time trial.