It was a hard day for Great Britain Cycling Team’s under-23 riders at Tour de l’Avenir on Thursday, with two of the six-strong team exiting the race while leading Great Britain rider Alex Peters suffered mechanical misfortune.
Peters started the day 17th overall on general classification, one minute and 40 seconds behind overnight leader Jose Luis-Rodriguez of Chile but lost over five minutes on stage five, a mechanical mid-stage necessitating a long chase back on. Mark Stewart abandoned, while Steve Williams finished outside the time limit and was eliminated.
Following the mountain skirmishes of stage four on Wednesday, stage five from Megeve to La Rosiere-Monvalezan saw the grimpeurs’ battle commence in anger with one second-category climb and three first category brutes packed into just over 100 kilometres, culminating in a hilltop finish on Montee de la Rosier.
And the sudden ramping up of the parcours contributed to the attritional nature of the stage with a number of riders exiting. Most notable casualty of the day was France’s Jeremy Maison, who while leading the race, crashed on the short descent of the Col du Pre, appearing to break his collarbone and abandoning.
After a number of early bids for freedom were consumed by the peloton, the decisive move of the day came on the Cormet de Roseland, the day’s penultimate climb.
Guillame Martin (France) launched his bid for victory at the top of the six-kilometre, 1968-metre climb, building a cushion on the 21-kilometre descent to the foot of the final ascent.
Martin held off the chasing group on the hilltop finish of the Montée de la Rosier to win by six seconds but the Frenchman was almost caught by Gregor Muhlberger save for a navigational error by the Austrian, assuring a fine victory for Martin, recompense for the earlier misfortune of teammate Maison.
Alex Peters finished five minutes and 15 seconds behind Martin, the first Briton home. Gabriel Cullaigh lost 27 minutes while Chris Lawless lost almost 29. Jake Kelly came in over 35 minutes adrift of the winner but there was worse news for Stephen Williams, one of two riders who finished outside the time limit, 44 minutes and 21 seconds back.
Despite his wrong turn at the finish Muhlberger took the yellow jersey from Luis-Rodriguez while Alex Peters remained Great Britain’s leading ride on general classification in 25th, five minutes and 16 seconds down on Muhlberger.
Friday sees stage six and another day in the high mountains, 126 kilometres of racing dominated by the haute categorie legend of the Col de la Madeleine.