Benjamin Thomas gets involved in a lively stage

Tirreno-Adriatico 2020 is coming to an end, but before the final time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto, the riders faced another undulating stage on Sunday towards Loreto. Coming from the morning breakaway, Mathieu van der Poel managed to hold on against the bunch to storm the win while Benjamin Thomas showed once again his good condition and tried his luck in the final circuit. Bruno Armirail had to give up a few seconds in the general classification but remains in 18th position before his favourite exercise on Monday.

“Everyone did his part”, Sébastien Joly

“The goal for the start of the stage was to take the breakaway but the issue was that 80% of the bunch had the same idea, since we knew that it could make it all the way to the end,” Sébastien Joly reviewed on Sunday evening. Considering the hilly stage ahead and the fact that most of the riders were more than 5 minutes away from the GC leader, the opportunity was obvious. Like most teams on the race, the Groupama-FDJ formation therefore joined in the fight in the first minutes. “The guys were there from the start”, assured Sébastien. “Bruno could also try to go up front, knowing he was five minutes away in the overall standings. That’s what he did with strength in the first two hills, with Nibali. Unfortunately, it all came back together after. Then, the others were very offensive, everyone did his part, but the good move went without us”.

It took over an hour to see the breakaway form, with Mathieu van der Poel, Victor Campenaerts, Giovanni Visconti and Julien Bernard among others in there. The gap first went up to five minutes before being reduced to three as the riders were entering the final circuit in Loreto, 80 kilometers from the line. “Astana was not represented up front either, so they started pulling,” Sébastien continued. “We figured that they would move later on with Jakob Fuglsang. At first, another Astana attacked then Benjamin Thomas went chasing before Fuglsang also broke away. He caught Benjamin, who then just tried to hold his wheel, which was way enough”. Twenty kilometers from the finish, the Omnium world champion found himself with the last winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Matthew Holmes, about two minutes from the morning breakaway. Ten kilometers later, the gap was reduced by half and the connection with the first chasing group, including Van der Poel, got close to be made.

“There will be a nice time trial for Bruno tomorrow”, Sébastien Joly

“At the bottom of the finish climb, of about two kilometers, Benjamin was still a few seconds ahead of the peloton, but it came back very quickly,” added Sébastien Joly. “Only three guys from the initial breakaway made it until the line, including Van der Poel. While there is no meaningful place for Benji at the finish line, the most important thing is the attitude he showed. We had planned to take part to the aggressive race, and he attacked at the right time, he played his cards the right way”. On the line, Anthony Roux eventually was the first Groupama-FDJ rider, in 29th position, while Bruno Armirail struggled until the end to limit his losses and keep his 18th place overall. “Bruno was a little disappointed at the finish, he did not have a very good day,” explained Sébastien. “Tough days happen in a stage race, whether it is one or three weeks. He had it today, but there will be a nice time trial for him tomorrow. He will give his best and we will take stock afterwards. That being said, it isn’t important whether he finishes 17th or 18th overall. The main thing is that he learns, that he does a good time trial, and why not finish the week with a goo