Stan Van Tricht takes third on the opening stage of the Tour de l’Ain, after his teammate is caught with 50 meters to go.

The Wolfpack was highly prominent on the first stage of the three-day French race, especially in the final part, going on the offensive with Rémi Cavagna, Julian Alaphilippe and Louis Vervaeke, who took turns to attack in the closing 25 kilometers, softening up the bunch and making it really difficult for the sprinters.

The former French Champion was the first to show his intentions, before his teammates went all-out on the last hill of the race, Côte de Plain Champ, a short 1500m one averaging 5%. On the descent, things came back together and it looked like nothing else would happen until the final meters of the stage, but Rémi – who came here after a solid sixth overall at the Tour de Pologne last week – had other ideas.

The “TGV of Clermont-Ferrand” launched one of his trademark moves under the flamme rouge and a moment of hesitation from the peloton allowed him to open a gap; without looking back, Cavagna continued to push, but the on the long finishing straight the chasers were always going to have the upper hand, and despite his effort, the bunch caught him an incredibly 50 meters from the line.

“I attacked with 950 meters to go and I just went full gas as I thought it was the best moment. I rode à block and I didn’t look back, then I saw the finish line and was getting closer and closer, but I was caught with 50 meters to go. It was painful for my morale, but at least we had a good outing as a team. We’ll see what we can do in the next two stages. I want to get a win before the end of the season, my form is good and I hope it will happen”, Rémi said.

In the sprint won by Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ), Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl neo-pro Stan Van Tricht came through to take his first podium since turning pro and our team’s 77th top 3 finish this year: “I stayed there thinking that the others maybe will have to go a bit earlier to bring back Rémi, but Stewart’s teammates placed him perfectly in the wheel of Rémi and had the best line for the sprint, while I came a bit too short. The podium is nice, but a Wolfpack victory would have been better. It was my first time sprinting for the team and something from which I will learn for the future.”


Photo credit: ©Bas Czerwinski / Getty Images