The second road stage of the Tour de la Provence did create the anticipated damage. Unfortunately, Groupama-FDJ couldn’t impact the race towards Manosque as they wished. Only Lorenzo Germani was able to follow the small group which fought for victory, taken by Mads Pedersen once again. Seventh on the day, the young Italian sits in eighth place overall before a final stage which could be eventful.

Although the overall elevation gain did not seem frightening (2400 meters), today’s stage on the Tour de la Provence still offered very little flat portions. Between Forcalquier and Manosque, the riders’ task was made even harder by the pouring rain. “The conditions were even a bit more extreme than we could have imagined,” said Thierry Bricaud. “The race was extremely hard.” Initially, however, the usual scenario took place with an early breakaway led by Emmanuel Morin (Van Rysel-Roubaix), Marco Frigo (Israel-Premier Tech), Thomas Bonnet (TotalEnergies), Scott McGill (Project Echelon Racing) and Kasper Saver (Philippe Wagner-Bazin). The peloton was quite content with this situation and from then on sailed – quite right given the context – two minutes behind the leading men. “It was a very hard day with the weather, the cold and the rain,” added Lorenzo Germani. “The plan was to stay together all day given the narrow roads, then try to put Lidl-Trek in a bit of trouble in the final.”

“I gave everything to get the best result”, Lorenzo Germani

Thirty-five kilometers from the finish, the riders reached the last part of the race, much hillier, including the Col de l’Aire dei Masco (6.6 km at 4.8%). Marco Frigo tackled it with a two-minute gap, but the action soon started in the pack. “We wanted to influence the race, and for Rémy to go on the attack,” said Thierry. This is what happened thirty kilometres from the finish, but the French climber was unable to open a real gap since the race leader himself, Mads Pedersen, answered to the attacks. The bunch mostly reduced from the back, and only around thirty riders were left in it at the top. “We wanted to make it hard a little, but it didn’t go as we would have liked,” added Thierry. “The pace was quite fast on the climb, and Sam wasn’t super today. He was a bit distanced towards the top. It came down to details, because he was still close at the summit. He was unable to close the gap on the descent, Rémy sat up to wait for him, they had the peloton within sight, but they attacked up front. Ten riders went way with Pedersen and it was over for Sam.”

With twenty kilometres to go, only Lorenzo Germani remained in contention, since the Italian managed to enter the right move while his fellow countryman Marco Frigo was still leading the race. “Lars was there after the descent, but he didn’t have good legs,” said Thierry. “Lorenzo was careful, he followed and there was obviously no question of making him wait.” “Unfortunately, we lost Sam on the last climb, then there were attacks,” recounted Lorenzo. “Instead of pulling, Lidl-Trek sent Pedersen up front and stopped riding. I managed to follow and there were about ten of us in front. I knew I couldn’t win, so I didn’t take turns. Pedersen was so strong in the last kilometers, it was impressive. I didn’t have any particular goal. Initially, I was supposed to help others, and I found myself up front. I gave everything to get the best result.” The former U23 Italian champion struggled but fought hard to keep the wheels up until the end. Frigo was caught in the last kilometre, and despite all his efforts, Mads Pedersen still won the sprint. Lorenzo Germani crossed the line in seventh position, two seconds behind the Dane.

“It won’t be calm on Sunday”, Thierry Bricaud

If Sam Watson lost his place on the provisional race podium, Lorenzo Germani appeared in the top 10 overall, in eighth place, thirty-four seconds behind Pedersen. “It limits the damage,” concluded Thierry. “We were more ambitious than that, but it’s very good for him. This is the only card we have left for the overall. He likes echelons and fighting for position. That’s good, we’re going to have another hard day tomorrow. It won’t be calm. We will be in the Camargue and it will be very open. The wind will rather be from the front or from the back, but when we have it on the side, we will need to be there because it can explode. We will mainly think about the stage with Matt Walls, but if we can gain a few places with Lorenzo, we won’t hesitate.”

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