And that makes it five, already! In Limoges this Friday, Romain Grégoire safely secured the overall win of the Tour du Limousin and therefore scored his fifth victory of the season. At 20, the neo-pro from Besançon also added a second stage race on his record list after the 4 Jours de Dunkerque. On Friday, with the yellow jersey on his shoulders, he turned into a lead-out man for Lewis Askey. The Briton eventually took sixth place on the day, but the Groupama-FDJ cycling team also completed the Tour du Limousin with a second man on the podium with Michael Storer (3rd) and with the team classification victory. Quite a successful and promising week.

Romain Grégoire and his teammates still had to hold on for 170 kilometres this Friday, on the fourth and last stage of the Tour du Limousin. On a course similar to the last few days, always going up and down, the Groupama-FDJ team still had to be careful despite a relatively comfortable lead for the yellow jersey. A tough terrain was to be covered before the traditional and tiring circuit in Limoges, some GC contenders such as Kevin Vauquelin and Benoît Cosnefroy even tried to get away at the very start of the day. Philippe Mauduit’s men controlled the situation perfectly, and eventually let a group of five men go after almost an hour of racing. Thomas Joseph (Tarteletto-Isorex), Martin Marcellusi (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizane’), Stijn Appel (A Bloc CT), Imanol Erviti (Movistar Team) and Paul Ourselin (TotalEnergies) indeed hit the front, but their lead never went above the three-minute mark. “I was still quite confident entering the day given the team’s work over the past three days,” said Romain. “I knew I could trust them, and the day went pretty well. We managed to control it well and then we got help from the sprinters’ teams today”. Matthieu Ladagnous nevertheless took part in the chase for part of the day, before the pack gradually got closer in the last 80 kilometres.

“I’ve gained a lot of confidence”, Romain Grégoire

Thirty-five kilometres from the finish, the riders crossed the line in Limoges for the first time, and the gap was then slightly over a minute. Three local laps remained on the menu, but no action took place in the first two. Paul Ourselin just pushed his attempt further than his break companions, but he was caught shortly after entering the last ten kilometres. Groupama-FDJ then took command of the peloton and controlled the very few attacks that occurred on the main climb of the circuit. The bunch was eventually all together tackling the last downhill, and at the bottom of the long, slight uphill drag to the finish, the yellow jersey Romain Grégoire took charge himself. After a quick turn of Rudy Molard, the young Frenchman took over again in the last kilometre just ahead of Lewis Askey. “He felt good, and I wanted to give him confidence,” explained Romain. “This morning, I told him: the priority is the yellow jersey, but if everything goes well, we’ll do the sprint for you. To be honest, it was also an advantage for me to be up front and involved in the race in order to avoid splits and crashes. It was a double benefit. I don’t think we did too badly. I dropped him with a bit more than 200 metres to go and he was able to sprint properly”.

The 22-year-old Briton, however, did not have enough energy to finish it off. He completed the stage, won by Hugo Page, in sixth place. A few moments later, Romain Grégoire crossed the line in the first peloton, and therefore secured his overall win. “It’s done, and I’m actually quite happy it is over,” smiled Romain. “It’s a little relief because you never know what can happen on a circuit like that. In the end, everything worked out fine. I was not in danger on the circuit, and there weren’t a lot of attacks. It was a pretty quiet day, and it was also good like that.” Romain Grégoire will in any case leave the Limousin region with a full suitcase this Friday. In addition to the final victory, he also took two stage wins during the week and now has five wins among the “big boys” already. “I’ve gained a lot of confidence,” he confessed. “I am very reassured about my shape. It will be another competition and another level on the Vuelta, but it is still a very good sign. I didn’t expect to win a GC in my first professional year, and it’s already my second one! I surprise myself from race to race”.

“They all achieved a great week together”, Philippe Mauduit

Groupama-FDJ also scored their sixteenth victory of the season on Friday, while putting Michael Storer on the third step of the final podium and winning the team classification. “We had a great week”, commented Philippe Mauduit. “Everyone has eyes on Romain, of course, but they all achieved a great week together. The Tour du Limousin is really a difficult race, with elevation gain every day, heat and there was a good field. It was great to see them fight and put all their energy and heart into the work. From this week of racing, I’ll remember the teamwork and the continuity in Romain’s progress. He is more and more clear mentally, he sees the strategy earlier and earlier, and he also brings suggestions. It’s really interesting”. “When we have this good team dynamic, when we show that we are up there physically, it surely gives confidence”, concluded Romain. “A positive circle is settling in, and everything is falling into place as it should”. The young man now hopes to keep this momentum going from next weekend, on the Vuelta a Espana.

No comment