A serious test was lying ahead for Bruno Armirail on Friday in stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico. Still in the mix in the general classification, the 26-year-old time trialist was set to face a decisive mountaintop finish that clearly suited the pure climbers. However, the Frenchman eventually passed the test as he took 22nd on the line and retained his place in the top-20 overall with three stages remaining.
Although the main goal on this fifth day on the “Race between the two seas” was to get Bruno Armirail to test himself in the final climb, Groupama-FDJ was also interested in the day’s breakaway. However, the good move went clear straight away and the team could not be represented. “The stage started on a climb, so it was not easy, and we thought the fight would last longer”, said Sébastien Joly. “That being said, it wasn’t really a problem as the breakaway was caught in the final. We don’t have regrets”. In front of the race, the breakaway of ten men including Mathieu van der Poel took up to six minutes but the presence of Giovanni Visconti, only two minutes away in the general classification, made it difficult for them to fight for the stage win. The peloton then controlled the situation while Groupama-FDJ lost Romain Seigle, “left without power” and forced to retire.
“It’s a nice goal for Bruno”, Sébastien Joly
The rest of the team then supported Bruno Armirail in anticipation of the final, and particularly the decisive climb (12 km at 7%). Willing to defend his chances, the Frenchman tried to approach the first slopes in good position. “The climb got really tough from the bottom, with the champions and their teammates breaking everything apart,” noted Sébastien Joly. “Bruno was not able to follow but he was able to keep his pace throughout and managed to finish 22nd”. The time trial specialist lost almost four minutes to the new leader Simon Yates, but did not crack and also got the support of his Swiss teammate. “Kilian [Frankiny] did 3/4 of the climb with him,” Sébastien said, “and everyone really committed today. Everyone worked hard to enable Bruno to tackle the climb in the best possible conditions, either by bringing bidons or by replacing him. The guys have fulfilled their mission perfectly”.
While the Tirreno-Adriatico program is now only made of a sprinters stage, a hilly stage and a time trial, Bruno Armirail still hangs on to his solid top 20 overall (18th). “The goal now is for him to stay in that position by Monday, and then we’ll see how many places we can earn in the time trial,” concluded Sébastien. It’s a nice goal for him, but it’s a first for him as well. He is still learning to position himself and to perform on climbs like he did today. This is an opportunity for him to see where his limits are, and we will take stock on Monday after the race”.