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Aleksandr Vlasov capped a resurgent last week at the Tour de France with a strong stage 20 time trial to move up from seventh to fifth overall in the Tour de France, 16:37 down on leader Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma).
The Bora-Hansgrohe captain started the 40.7km test between Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadour only 27 seconds behind sixth-placed Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and 35 seconds down on Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) in fifth.
He was up on the pair at every time split, ultimately finishing in 18th place, 2:46 down on stage winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma). Meanwhile, Quintana was 4:08 behind the Belgian, with Meintjes falling to eighth overall 5:48 down, as Romain Bardet (Team DSM) narrowly moved ahead of him.
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“Today, I’d say I was quite good. It wasn’t a great result, but good feelings,” Vlasov told journalists at the finish. “I’m happy with how it went. I moved up a few places.”
It’s been a come-from-behind race for the Russian, riding his first Tour de France. He crashed on stage 6, subsequently suffering muscle pain. “Before the crash I felt perfect and was up there to go with the best, but after the crash it is a lot harder for me,” he subsequently said.
“I didn’t want that [crash] to happen,” Vlasov said, reflecting on his Tour after the finish of stage 20. “But it was a good experience and I already know what to expect next year. And I’m also happy because I’m still improving, recovering and then finding a bit of form.”
Placed eleventh overall heading into the Pyrénées, he was helped by getting into the breakaway on stage 16 to Foix. Vlasov gained more than four minutes over his fellow contenders and moved up to eighth.
He then consolidated it with seventh and ninth on stage 17 to Peyragudes and stage 18 to Hautacam to set up a fight for fifth overall in the 40.7km time trial.
Asked about his crash and whether he could have finished on the podium, he responded: “I can’t say, but I hope so. That was the aim, top five as a minimum, the top three as the maximum.”
Vlasov also praised Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “They’re on a whole other level compared to the others, ten steps ahead.”
The 26-year-old has been one of the most consistent stage racers of the 2022 season, winning the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and Tour de Romandie. He also won a stage at the Tour de Suisse and was leading when he was forced to leave after a COVID-19 positive.
Providing Vlasov finishes the race in Paris, this result backs up his fourth place finish at the 2021 Giro d’Italia, which remains his grand tour best.
Meanwhile, it’s a positive conclusion to the race for Bora-Hansgrohe too. They have had some near misses to rue, as German rider Lennard Kämna came within 100 meters of a stage win on Super Planche des Belles Filles and within 11 seconds of the yellow jersey on stage 10.