Stewart gets used to it
31 July 2023

As in 2022, the Groupama-FDJ rider won the first stage, which ended, as expected, in a bunch sprint. He came in ahead of Emmanuel Morin (CIC U Nantes Atlantique) and Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa Samsic).

This Monday, July 31, the 35th Tour de l’Ain set off from Loyettes for 154.5 kilometers, with just the Saint-Eloi and Sulignat climbs on the program. It didn’t take long for the fight to begin, with a breakaway consisting of Aloïs Charrin (Tudor Pro Cycling), Julian Lino (Nice Métropole Côte d’Azur) and Mads Ostegaard Kristensen (Leopard Togt). The three men went on to enjoy a 3min30s lead over the peloton, which then began to react. Maël Guégan (CIC U Nantes Atlantique), who tried to bridge the gap, paid the price. The gap dropped to 2min20s with 83km to go. A few minutes further on, Aloïs Charrin and Julian Lino crashed after crossing a speed bump. Once up on their feet, they realize that Mads Ostegaard Kristensen has distanced them.

Approaching Saint-Nizier-le-Bouchoux (km 126.2), the Dane’s lead dropped below one minute. He was eventually caught by the “patrol” with 24 kilometers to go. Attacks, such as those by Nans Peters (AG2R Citroën Team) and Julien Bernard (Lidl Trek), were silenced. The sprinters’ teams, notably TotalEnergies, Intermarché-Circus-Wanty and Arkéa Samsic with local Maxime Bouet, got organized as the finish line approached.

At La Plaine Tonique Malafretaz, Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) was first over the line ahead of Emmanuel Morin (CIC U Nantes Atlantique) and Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa Samsic), who hadn’t raced since the French championship in Cassel. Tom Devriendt (Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team), Jason Tesson (TotalEnergies), Arne Marit (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Tobias Müller (German team), Emils Liepins (Lidl-Trek), Romain Cardis (St Michel-Mavic-Auber 93) and Henri Uhlig (German team) rounded out the Top 10. Maxime Jarnet (Van Rysel-Roubaix Lille Métropole), a stage local, finished 12th.

Yellow and green jerseys for Stewart

Winner of his second pro race, the first of which was stage 1 of the Tour de l’Ain 2022, in Val-Revermont, 23-year-old Jake Stewart takes the Solimut Mutuelle de France yellow jersey in the overall classification, 4 seconds ahead of Emmanuel Morin (CIC U Nantes Atlantique), 6 seconds ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa Samsic) and 10 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. The green Crédit Mutuel points jersey also goes to Stewart.

Mads Ostegaard Kristensen (Leopard Togt), voted most combative of the day, wears the Région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes polka-dot jersey for best climber. It’s become a tradition for the German U23 team to propel one of its members to the front of the stage: Tobias Müller is the best young rider of this first stage.

On Tuesday August 1, the road begins to rise between Saint-Vulbas and Lagnieu for 123.3 km. Another race awaits.

The winner’s reaction:

Jake Stewart (GFC)

“It’s clear that the Tour de l’Ain is a race I like. The course was different this year. My team was really strong in the last two kilometers. In the last few meters, I got a good start and a gap was created behind me.”

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