American Tejay Van Garderen won today's final stage of the Tour de l'Avenir. Van Garderen escaped in the closing kilometers of the race, holding off the final charge of the main field. Michel Kreder of the Netherlands won the bunch sprint for second, finishing 11 seconds behind the American. Jan Bakelants of Belgium successfully defended his overall lead in the general classification.
Race report on the flip.
A succession of breakaways animated today's bumpy stage 9 of the Tour de l'Avenir. Despite the ups and downs of the stage profile, most expected a sprint finish, an expectation overturned by American Tejay Van Garderen. Only 60 riders took the start for the 144.5 kilometer jaunt from Seix to Mirepoix.
Two riders attacked from the gun in Seix, but after 40 kilometers of racing, the field regrouped on the côte de Merignon. Cyril Gautier of France summited the climb first, followed by Rein Taaramae of Estonia and Romain Zingle of Belgium. Gautier went on alone, and by the summit of the côte de Pailhes, he held a gap of 30 seconds over the main field. But still, he had almost 90 kilometers to ride before the finish. On the côte de Pailhes with 60 kilometers to go, Gautier held a minute gap over the main field. Not far behind the hard-riding Frenchmen, two riders tried to bridge: Simon Geschke of Germany and Thomas Peterson of the United States. Over the top of the côte de Pailhes, the two were just 20 seconds behind Gautier. Peterson soon fell back, and only Geschke succeeded in making the split.
Geschke and Gautier worked steadily together, and with 30 kilometers left to ride, they held a 55 second gap over the main field. With the gap ticking down, a group of four riders bridged across to the leading duo. The group included: Tejay Vangaderen of the United States, Damiano Caruso and Stefano Pirazzi of Italy, and Michel Kreder of Belgium. Together with Gaschke and Gautier, they held off a determined main field. Eager to defend the points jersey of Maciej Paterski, the Polish team rode hard in the closing kilometers. Though in the end, Paterski held the jersey, he was denied a final chance for a sprint win.
In the closing kilometers, with the catch imminent, Tejay Van Garderen made a desperate dash for the line. Under the flamme rouge, Van Garderen held just five seconds over the fast-closing bunch. At the finish, the American had time to celebrate, though just barely, as he won the stage by 12 seconds. Michel Kreder of the Netherlands won the sprint for second, followed by Damiano Caruso of Italy. Today marked Van Garderen's second win of the season. His previous came at Flèche du Sud, where he won a stage. Van Gerderen is also a former U.S. junior national champion on the road and in the time trial. He won both titles in 2005. Van Gerderen currently rides for the Rabobank Development Team.
The general classification remained unchanged after today's final stage. Jan Bakelants of Belgium successfully defended his overall lead to win the general classification. This win caps an excellent season for Bakelants. He has won several important races, including the U23 Liége-Bastogne-Liége, Flèche-Namur, Circuit des Ardennes, and the Tour of Liége. Bakelants currently rides for Beveren 2000, which is the development squadra for QuickStep. Rui Costa of Portugal finished second in the general at 36 seconds, and Arnold Jeannesson of France finished third at 42 seconds, after his strong ride in yesterday's mountain stage. American Peter Stetina, who wore the leader's jersey for one day, finished tenth in the general classification. After his adventuring on Saturday, Arnold Jeannesson of France captured the KOM jersey, while Maciej Paterski of Poland won the points.
For full results, see the Official Site.
The alert reader will notice that Van Garderen's name is mis-spelled in the official results.
Race report drawn from coverage at velo101.com and l'Équipe.fr.