Jacques Janse van Rensburg put on a strong display of riding at the opening Circuit la Sarthe stage, getting into the break of the day and mopping up all the GPM points on offer. In a nail biting finish, the South African champion fought bravely to only be caught a few hundred meters before the line. The stage victory would go to Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis).
Jacques got into the break as early as the 5th kilometer today with Romain Lemarchand (Cult Energy) and Carlos Ramirez (Colombia) and the trio forced out an early lead of just over 11 minutes. The substantial gap gave the breakaway riders some hope of making it to the finish and they would push the peloton deep into the stage. So deep in fact that with a 2km to go Jacques and Lemarchand still had 18″ on the peloton. It was only due to a concerted chase by a numerous number of teams that would result in the catch.
The trio worked well for the majority of the stage and had us all on the edge of our seats as with 27km to go their gap was sitting at 3’35”. Cannondale-Garmin, Movistar, FDJ.fr and Cofidis all had to send workers to the front of the peloton in the high speed chase. Ramirez stopped helping to drive the break with more than 20km to go, eventually he lost contact with 3km to go and it was only just inside of 1km to go that the remaining duo were caught. A mass bunch sprint followed with Bouhanni winning, Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) 2nd and Raymond Kreder (Roompot) 3rd.
It was not all heartbreak for the South African champ though as Jacques pulled on the King of the Mountains jersey for his efforts and the 6 seconds time bonus he won makes sure he sits in the top 5 overall.
Jacques Janse van Rensburg – Rider
It was really nice to be in the break again and I came really close to the win today. It is a bit disappointing to miss out on the stage but at the same time I’m happy to wear the climbers jersey tomorrow and I’m also relieved that I’m feeling better after a week off the bike due to flu.
Jens Zemke – Head of Performance
What a drama filled stage. Jacques rode incredibly well today. He was in the lead for 185km, won all 3 GPM’s and 6 seconds in time bonus. He was in a break of 3 and the Columbian rider they were with couldn’t pull for the final 30km. The peloton eventually caught Jacques and Lemarchand just after the 1km banner.