On the longest stage of this 2021 Tirreno-Adriatico, Groupama-FDJ was seen up front as Tobias Ludvigsson entered the day’s breakaway. The Swedish rider did more than 200 kilometers at the head of the race before he was caught by the bunch, just like the rest of the breakaway. It then all came down to a punchy finish, where Kevin Geniets tried to get in the mix. The champion of Luxembourg took a solid 14th place as Mathieu van der Poel claimed the victory.
“I’m happy with my day”, Tobias Ludvigsson
Between Monticiano and Gualdo Tadino, nearly 220 kilometers were on the riders’ program in the Race of the Two Seas on Friday. In the aftermath of a difficult day for the team, the watchword was crystal clear this morning. “The most important thing was to get back on track,” said Sébastien Joly. “It was really important. We still have great opportunities lying ahead, especially with Rudy, but this Tirreno will soon be over and the idea was to get back into the business today. Three of our riders could then go for the breakaway: Tobias, Stefan but also Benjamin”. Eventually, it was the three-time Swedish time trial champion who followed the good move in the first kilometers. He then found himself in the lead with Mark Padun (Bahrain-Victorious), Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa), Guillaume Boivin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Niki Terpstra (Total-Direct Energie). They could enjoy a nice nine-minute margin at halfway point, but an attempt of echelons in the back later reduced their advantage to just 3’30, with 75 kilometres to go.
The peloton then gambled for a bit, before Deceuninck-Quick Step and Alpecin-Fenix came to launch the chase again. The lead of Tobias Ludvigsson and his breakaway companions gradually reduced and was only a minute entering the last twenty kilometers. It all got way more complicated, and the Scandinavian rider was caught twelve kilometres from the line. “It was a tough day, with a constant side wind,” he said. “In the end, I think we missed two guys up front. It would have been better. That being said, we rode well together. Everyone took his turn and everyone did his job, but in the end, I think that it’s the peloton that decides if we survive or not. It did not succeed today but I’m still happy with my day and with my legs. It’s good for the coming races”. “Tobias did a nice ride, and on top of that, we actually believed it could go until the finish,” Sébastien said. “He showed great motivation. It was a good thing to have him up front today.”
“We hope it will continue that way”, Sébastien Joly
In the final kilometres, the tension obviously went up in the peloton and Stefan Küng was caught in a crash, fortunately escaping any bad injury. The Swiss champion then finished calmly while the Luxembourg champion, Kevin Geniets, joined in the fight in the last, slightly uphill 2,500 meters. “Kevin had a really good position. He came to rub shoulders with the best and that ended up with fourteenth on the line”, added Sébastien. “He came to the car 2-3 times during the day and said he was feeling much better than yesterday. That is the most important. It’s promising for what’s to come, especially since the “walls” stage may suit him well.” Rudy Molard and Thibaut Pinot also finished in this small bunch of forty riders out-sprinted for the win by Mathieu van der Poel. Rudy Molard also climbs up to 29th in GC on Friday night. “Overall, it’s a better day than yesterday, and we hope it will continue that way until the end,” said Sébastien.