The Faun-Ardèche Classic is the first of a one-two punch of racing known as the Boucles Drôme Ardèche in the final weekend of February.
While the weather can be fickle, this year’s edition of the race was lucky enough to enjoy near-perfect conditions.
This race has seen top talent over its 21-year history, and with so many races being on hold for the current season, this year’s race was no exception.
Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana–Premier Tech), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama–FDJ), and the young American Quinn Simmons of Trek–Segafredo were in the mix and adding color at the end of a beautiful day of racing.
At the end of the day, Frenchman David Gaudu in his Groupama–FDJ colors just managed to barely outclass Clément Champoussin of AG2R-Citroën, and Brit phenom Hugh Carthy of EF Education–Nippo to take the win at this year’s race.
Riders were masked a the start — right up until they were about to roll out — of the Faun-Ardèche Classic.
While it was a bit chilly for the first few kilometers, temperatures and racing heated up throughout the day.
The colors of French-based Arkéa-Samsic were hard to miss in the peloton.
Rémi Cavagna of Deceuninck-Quick-Step on the move, early.
David Gaudu paced Hugh Carthy, who in turn marked the Groupama-FDJ rider.
As a French squad at a French race, Cofidis was all-in. And Guillaume Martin was on board for a quick ride.
Seven strong in a break, through the vineyards, which were about to emerge from their winter hibernation.
Hints of color on the trees stand in contrast to the already bright green through which a ribbon of gray wound.
This is the late-winter French countryside, barren for now, but lush in just a few weeks’ time.
In anticipation of a fast finish, teams lined up to protect their sprinters.
With a paceline stringing for hundreds of meters in single-file formation, it was clear that the race was on!
The bunch, back together, on one of the final climbs of the day.
American Quinn Simmons of Trek-Segafredo sitting in the main group, would go on to finish in the top-10.
David Guado executed a brilliant sprint in the closing meters of the 2021 Faun-Ardèche Classic.
Thibaut Pinot in the colors of Groupama-FDJ rolled across the line in eighth position.