Quintana wins Tour de la Provence, Doull wins the final stage
Sunday, February 16, 2020 at 3:46 PM
Nairo Quintana can call itself the winner of the Tour de la Provence. The Colombian from Arkéa-Samsic certainly did not get it as a gift in the final stage to Aix-en-Provence, but managed to reach the finish without a hitch. The stage victory went to Owain Doull, who was too fast for his fellow refugees in a sprint.
After the impressive hold of Nairo Quintana on the flanks of the Mont Ventoux, there was still a difficult final stage on the program from Avignon to Aix-en-Provence today. The Colombian from Arkéa-Samsic started the last assignment in this Tour de la Provence with a seemingly reassuring lead, but of course Quintana still had to keep an eye on a few riders.
Cavagna opens the debates (again)
The first attack came in the name of … Rémi Cavagna. The French rider of Deceuninck-Quick-Step was the first to start yesterday at the diabolical flanks of the Mont Ventoux and today he also felt like a whole day ahead of the peloton. After the first intermediate sprint, however, Cavagna was relieved by a number of setbacks, with the most striking names being Ian Stannard, Fabio Felline and Chris Harper, the Australian climber of Jumbo-Visma.
For a moment, the peloton Stannard, Felline, Harper and six other riders seemed to give space, but AG2R La Mondiale and Groupama-FDJ decided to increase the pace just before the introduction of the introductory Côte de 3 Termes. The refugees were thus picked up before the summit by Thibaut Pinot, Gianni Moscon and Pavel Sivakov, who divided the mountain points in this order and started the sinking.
Leader Quintana has to work, but checks the situation
Leader Quintana and his team Arkéa-Samsic were put under considerable pressure, but an unselfish Warren Barguil helped to ensure that the Colombian could once again join Pinot, Sivakov and Moscon. And it didn’t take long before the released riders could pick up again and a regrouping took place. This turned out to be the moment for Romain Combaud, Owain Doull, Ian Garrison and Matthias Brändle to join forces.
These four attackers did get the space to build a nice lead, because after more than fifty kilometers the difference with the Quintana group was suddenly more than three minutes. With NTT Pro Cycling and EF Pro Cycling we saw some new teams leading the pack. We had to wait for the last twenty kilometers and the Côte de la Cride (3.8 km at 4.8%) for the real spectacle.
Astana provides fireworks on the last climb of the round
Doull, Combaud, Garrison and Brändle started with a two minute lead at the foot of the Côte de la Cride, allowing one of the refugees to hope for a prestigious stage victory. The riders of EF Pro Cycling tried to close the gap for their strong sprinter Magnus Cort, but the American formation was faced with the hellish task of calculating the leaders. It had to come mainly from Astana …
The Kazakh formation did not only throw at the stage victory, Aleksandr Vlasov and Alexey Lutsenko wanted to test leader Quintana one more time, with the aim of cracking the Colombian on the flanks of the not too steep Côte de la Cride. It was up to Gorka Izagirre and Alex Aranburu to thin out the chasing group, but Quintana did not shrink and managed to repel the last attack on his leader’s jersey.
Refugees are out of control
Astana did not succeed in embarrassing Quintana, but the blue shirts had succeeded in narrowing the gap with the front runners to three-quarters of a minute, and that with twelve kilometers to go. The front runners, however, continued to work together in an exemplary way, stagnating the difference and the men of Team Sunweb – who were ahead of Marc Hirschi – were just too late.
The four frontrunners started to look at each other just before the last kilometer, but it was Combaud who couldn’t help but go 800 meters. The Frenchman, however, turned out not to be strong enough to continue his acceleration and then he also had no chance in the sprint. The stage victory eventually went to Doull, for Brändle and Garrison. Quintana crossed the line a few seconds later as the overall winner.