On the hard slopes of the Monte Petrano this Saturday, Romain Grégoire wanted to see where he stood against some of the world’s best climbers in the world. In the final of stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico, the Frenchman kept pace with the favourites for several kilometres of climbing, before he logically lost ground in the second part of the climb. At the top, the Groupama-FDJ puncher took nineteenth place and is now thirteenth overall before the final stage on Sunday.

Everything was to be decided this Saturday on Tirreno-Adriatico. After a first battle towards Valle Castellana the day before, the finish summit at Monte Petrano was to set everyone’s positions in the general classification, after ten kilometers of climbing averaging 8%. A proper climb loomed for the riders, in a day that included almost 3,500 meters of elevation gain, and during which “breathing” barely existed. The peloton indeed decided to let a breakaway go only after thirty kilometres of fighting.  Once the leading group was established with Axel Zingle, Richard Carapaz, Michal Kwiatkowski, Ivan Garcia Cortina, Andreas Leknessund, Nikias Arndt, Julian Alaphilippe, Ben Healy and Nans Peters, the “break” didn’t last very long. As Visma-Lease a Bike took control, the peloton did not grant more than a two-and-a-half-minute lead to the attackers, sometimes even reducing the gap to less than a minute. “The tempo was very hard all day,” explained Yvon Caër. “As for us, everyone gave their all to support Romain as long as possible.” In the two hills preceding the final climb, the breakaway broke apart, allowing Carapaz and Leknessund to regain some time.

“I have nothing to regret”, Romain Grégoire

The peloton also became smaller, but Romain Grégoire could still count on the French champion Valentin Madouas as he approached Monte Petrano. “It was another day with a crazy pace, but I was well supported by the whole team until the bottom of the final climb,” said Romain. “He was super aggressive for positioning,” added Yvon. Thanks to the help of his fellow countryman, the young Frenchman was able to tackle the final climb in the first positions, and from then on tried to stay there. “He went very well in the first part, but once they attacked, he struggled a bit more,” explained Yvon. “He did his best to follow for as long as possible, being very demanding with himself. He stayed with the best, but he was probably a bit over his limits.” After four kilometers of climbing in the wheel of the race’s best climbers, Romain Grégoire was logically distanced when Jai Hindley and Jonas Vingegaard opened the fight. “I took the risk of achieving a great result by following the leaders,” explained Romain. “I felt pretty good, but then I reached my limits. I completely blew up and finished totally empty. I’m surely disappointed because only the result matters in sport, but I have nothing to regret.”

After a difficult second part of the climb, the 21-year-old took nineteenth position at the top, 2’13 behind the winner, and just a minute behind tenth place. “We don’t have regrets because he really gave everything,” said Yvon. “He is young, he needs to test himself. If you keep energy and manage your effort all the time, you never really know what you can do. Presumably he was a little over his limits today. By managing a bit more his effort, he could perhaps have finished a little ahead, but he would not have known how far he could have gone with the best. A year ago, he would not have been able to do that, and in a year, he will be able to do much better. Considering the race’s field, it’s already very good.” After this queen stage, won by the leader Jonas Vingegaard, Romain Grégoire slipped down to thirteenth place overall, while the peloton will reach San Benedetto del Tronto on Sunday. “The general classification is sealed, and there is a good chance that it will finish in a sprint tomorrow,” concluded Yvon.

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