Final KM: Herald Sun Tour St4, Etoile de Bessèges St5, Volta Valenciana St5

The racing concludes in Australia, France and Spain – it’s been a busy old week.

Jayco Herald Sun Tour Stage 4: Kinglake to Kinglake, 121km

Team Sky took their third stage victory of the race with Ian Stannard. The classics man certainly seemed in tip top form as he drove the breakaway around the rolling circuits before making a late and decisive attack. His victory celebration almost cost him the glory as break companion Aqua Blue’s Aaron Gate (yes that man again!) charged behind him. We don’t want any of that malarkey on the cobbles Mr Stannard! The gloriously named Taco van der Hoorn (Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij) rounded out the podium.

Chris Froome and Sky threw everything down on the final lap but it wasn’t enough, Damien Howson (Orica-Scott) was equal to it all and it was joy to see him on the top step of the podium. Best young rider Jai Hindley (Korda Mentha Real Estate Australia) was second at +38secs, with Kenny Elissonde (Sky) third at +53secs. Benjamen Hill (Attaque Team Gusto)took home the polka dots and Sky were the best team – though they were pushed all the way by the young Aussie Korda Mentha squad.

Highlights…

Oh so close…

But he made it…

Full report at Cycling News.

Race Website  Race Twitter  #SunTour

Etoile de Bessèges Stage 5: Alès to Alès, ITT, 11.9km

The final time trial around Alès, with the kicker to the finish line, is so often the setting for an upset on the General Classification – but it was not so on this edition. While Lotto Soudal’s Tony Gallopin took the honours on the day, race leader Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) produced a storming ride to lose only 13secs on his main rival.  This was enough to ensure the young Frenchman a first ever professional GC title, to go with his stage win at the Vuelta last year. Watch out for him this season. Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale) completed the podium for the ITT and fourth place on the day for Mads Wurtz (Katusha-Alpecin) was enough to secure him 3rd on GC and the best young rider award – another to add to the watch list. Katusha-Alpecin also secured the points jersey with Alexander Kristoff.

Video (in French)…

Podium (L-R Gallopin, Calmejane, Wurtz)….

And from the archive – 20 years ago …

Full report at Cycling News.

Race Website  Race Twitter  #EtoiledeBesseges

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Stage 5: Valencia to Valencia, 51.2km

High winds forced the shortening the final stage to a thriller on the city streets of Valencia. Direct Energie had more good news as Bryan Coquard took out the sprint finish, just pipping Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) with Coen Vermeltfoort (Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij) rounding out the podium. However, the real excitement was provided by Quickstepper Iljo Keisse  and later Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) who kept a rampaging, Orica-Scott led peloton at bay until the final few metres. I defy you not to scream them on when you watch the video.

The GC remain unchanged with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the top step flanked by the BMC duo Ben Hermans (+13secs) and best young rider Manuel Senni (+32secs). Cyril Gautier (Ag2r-LaMondiale) kept his polka dots and Movistar added yet another best team trophy to their burgeoning collection. One  final thought. As much as I love a long team time trial, they do have their place – and a 5 day stage race is not one of them. The event was unbalanced and the gaps created were too large ever to be closed with just one climbing stage.

Video (last lap starts at 48mins)…

These two…

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Couldn’t resist putting this one in – Iljo Keisse at the Tour of Turkey…

Full report at Cycling News.

Race Website  Race Twitter  #VCV2017

Header image: Damien Howson Orica-Scott from Race Facebook site

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