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Tour de l’Ain stage 3: Roglič takes final stage, seals GC victory

Jumbo-Visma leader secures overall after strong team performance, Bernal places second on both the stage and GC.

Primoz Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) secured his second consecutive stage at the Tour de l’Ain Sunday, scooping the GC victory in the process.

The Slovenian punched past a late dash by Egan Bernal (Ineos) in the final 100 meters of the grinding summit finish on the Grand Colombier Sunday to secure overall victory after his teammates had controlled the pace and marked attacks through the final phases of the race.

Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) had surfed wheels all through the ascent of the final 17.4-kilometer mountain to take third on the stage.

Roglič again profited from a strong team display after Jumbo-Visma had dominated stage 2 Saturday.

“I wanted to put myself on as high a level as possible before the Tour de France, and to grow together with the team,” Roglič said after the race. “We did a good job.”

While Team Ineos had set the rhythm through the early slopes of the summit finish, Bernal was left isolated after all his teammates had ridden themselves into the ground and fallen off the back of the bunch. Meanwhile, Roglič had benefited from the services of George Bennett, Tom Dumoulin and Steven Kruijswijk through to the final kilometers of the stage.

Jumbo-Visma and Ineos had both gone into this week’s race with their three likely GC leaders for the Tour de France, along with a number of their strongest support riders. Jumbo-Visma came up trumps, finishing with three riders in the top-six, and Dumoulin looking in strong form as he played domestique.

After an uncertain start to the post-COVID season, Chris Froome showed some glimmers of former greatness on the final climb of the day, putting in long pulls on the front alongside Ineos teammate Jonathan Castroviejo. While Bernal was unable to sustain his late surge in search for stage victory, the young Colombian proved tenacious and cool under the collective pressure of his Jumbo-Visma rivals.

The final stage of the three-day French race began with Roglič nursing a 10-second lead over Bernal after taking victory on stage 2 Saturday, and the race all came down to the final climbing clash in the final kilometers of the Hors Categorie Grand Colombier, which will also be used as a summit finish in this summer’s Tour.

Going into the steep ascent, only around 30 riders remained, and Ineos took control from the get-go, with Geraint Thomas pulling a long turn before Froome and Castroviejo took over as the group thinned out.

By mid-way through the climb Thomas, Froome and Castroviejo were spent,  leaving Bernal isolated amind four Jumbo-Visma riders, with Riche Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) also in the lead group.

Porte kick-started the crescendo of the race with a move on 3km to go, shedding Dan Martin and Kruijswijk. The Australian tried again shortly afterward, though was unable to split the group further as Bennett continued neutralizing the moves.

Despite having looked in trouble through the closing 20-minutes of the stage, Bernal rolled the dice with 100 meters to go accelerating from the back of the bunch, though Roglič was able to jump straight onto his wheel. The Vuelta a España champion rounded the young Colombian in the final 50 meters to seal both the stage and the race overall.

“Today was again hard. Ineos did a hard race with the tempo on all the climbs, but our team did a great job again, so I was able to just finish it,” Roglič said.

Roglic, Bernal and their teammates will face-off again this coming week at the Criterium du Dauphine, the final race before the Tour.

Tour de l’Ain stage 3:

  1. Primoz Roglič (Jumbo-Visma): 4:06:24
  2. Egan Bernal (Ineos): +0:04
  3. Nairo Quintana (Arkea Samsic): +0:06
  4. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis): +0:08
  5. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo): +0:15
  6. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma):  +0:23

Final GC:

  1. Primoz Roglič (Jumbo-Visma): 11:21:12
  2. Egan Bernal (Ineos): +0:18
  3. Nairo Quintana (Arkea Samsic): +0:28
  4. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma): +0:56
  5. George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma): +1:27
  6. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo): +2:24