The international dimension of the Tour de l’Ain was confirmed when Ecuador’s Alexander Jefferson Cepeda Ortiz narrowly won ahead of Australia’s Michaël Storer, the eventual winner in 2021. Kenny Elissonde completes the podium. The final stage promises some great battles.
After setting off from Saint-Vulbas in fine weather towards the finish in Lagnieu via the traditional côte de Seillonnaz (5.5km at 4.6%), the col des Fosses (11.5km at 5%) and the col des Portes (6km at 10%) on Tuesday 1 August – the official opening date of the transfer market – a few riders tried to break away, but without success.
After 1h30 of racing, Doubiste Thomas Devaux (Saint-Michel-Mavic-Auber 93), who has ridden for Charvieu-Chavagneux (38) in the amateur category, Aindin’s Maxime Jarnet (Van Rysel Roubaix Métropole), who had promised to show himself in this 35th edition (12th yesterday), and Dane Mads Ostegaard Kristensen (Leopard Togt), who covered around a hundred kilometres at the front on the first day and is the holder of the Région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes polka-dot jersey for best climber, managed to get away from the peloton that included the holder of the Solimut Mutuelle de France yellow jersey in the overall classification, Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ).
With 70 kilometres to go and the foot of the second of the day’s three difficulties, the côte de Seillonnaz, the lead of the three men, aged 26, 24 and 25 respectively, was 2min20s.
Mads Ostegaard Kristensen was the first to let go. The EF Education-Easypost team kept up the pace at the back. In the space of a few kilometres, the two valiant Frenchmen conceded almost a minute. Maxime Jarnet let go of Thomas Devaux, who took the lead with a minute’s advantage over the peloton in Seillonnaz with 27.1 km to go.
The ambitious Groupama-FDJ then joined EF Education-Easypost at the head of the chasing pack. A sharp acceleration reduced this number and Thomas Devaux was caught with 20 kilometres to go. On the wet road of the selective Col de Portes climb, Britain’s Hugh John Carthy (EF Education-Easypost) made his move and was joined by his team-mate, Ecuadorian Alexander Jefferson Cepeda Ortiz, Australian Michaël Storer (Groupama-FDJ) and Kenny Elissonde (Lidl-Trek).
At the top of the summit, the Frenchman lost ground. Having failed to do so on the climb, Michaël Storer now has to get rid of the two EF Education-Easypost riders on the perilous descent due to the torrential downpours. In the final bends with 3 kilometres to go, Hugh John Carthy crashed.
This left the 26-year-old Australian and the 25-year-old Ecuadorian to battle it out in the sprint in Lagnieu. Alexander Jefferson Cepeda Ortiz won by just one tyre ahead of Michaël Storer, who lost his balance on the finish line and ended up on the ground. Kenny Elissonde, 14 seconds behind, completed the podium.
At 37 seconds, Julien Bernard, also with Lidl-Trek, led a field including Frenchmen Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Nicolas Prodhomme (AG2R Citroën Team), Elie Gesbert (Team Arkea-Samsic), Jordan Jegat (CIC U Nantes Atlantique) as well as Merhawi Kudus (EF Education-Easypost), Sebastien Reichenbach (Tudor Pro Cycling Team), Damien Howson (Q36. 5 Pro Cycling Team) and Jesus Herrada Lopez (Cofidis).
Young Reuben Thompson (Groupama-FDJ) and Joris Delbove (Saint-Michel-Mavic-Auber 93) are joined by Jaakko Hänninen (AG2R Citroën Team) at 41s. Local rider Pierre-Luc Perichon (Cofidis) finished 16th at 1min02s, between two groups.
Sixteen riders in 51 seconds
In the overall classification, four men, Alexander Jefferson Cepeda Ortiz, the new Solimut Mutuelle de France yellow jersey for 4s, Michaël Storer, Hugh John Carthy, 10s behind, and Kenny Elissonde, are within 20 seconds of each other. They are followed by the nine mentioned above and Julien Bernard at 47 seconds. The top 16 are separated by 51 seconds.
Mads Ostegaard Kristensen retains the Région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes polka-dot jersey for best climber.
The final 131.5km stage between Oyonnax and Lélex Monts-Jura takes place on Wednesday 2 August. The climbers who showed their mettle today will have a chance to explain themselves over the course of the six difficulties, including the Col de Menthières (9.1km at 7%) in the final.
The winner’s comments :
Alexander Jefferson Cepeda Ortiz (EF Education-Easypost): “The team worked really well for me. This victory is the result. I’ll be there again tomorrow. Our goal is to win the race.
The number of the day: 2
2 pro wins for Alexander Jefferson Cepeda Ortiz, Ecuadorian champion in 2021. The day before, Jake Stewart had achieved the same score.
- Cristian Rodriguez Martin (Arkéa-Samsic), ill (DNS).
- Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën Team), Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies)