Ardèche Classic (168.5km) and Drôme Classic (191.5km) – whose up-and-down terrain will lend itself to the puncheurs and attackers – marks our team’s first outing of the season on French soil. The many climbs peppering the route of the two races aren’t in any way gruesome, but a well-timed attack in the final kilometers has a big chance of holding off the peloton and making it all the way to the line, as was the case many times at the previous editions.
Bagioli third in windy Drôme Classic
Andrea Bagioli became the latest Soudal Quick-Step rider to score a podium finish this season in a tough edition of Drôme Classic, the howling wind making it really difficult for the peloton to control the race. As a result, a strong group featuring the Italian, Ardèche Classic winner Julian Alaphilippe and Ilan Van Wilder rode away, easily linking up with the remnants of the breakaway and pressing on to the point they put more than a minute between them and the chasing bunch.
The newly-formed front group worked well together, but things changed as soon as the road went up again and the cooperation went in smoke the moment several riders tried to drop their companions. Anthony Perez (Cofidis) ended up taking advantage of this, going clear with 40 kilometers to go and putting almost two minutes between him and his former companions. First Alaphilippe, then Bagioli tried to reduce the gap, and eventually a small chasing group containing the 23-year-old was organised and set out in pursuit of the Frenchman.
Andrea rode valiantly, and even though the leader was out of reach, he kept fighting and took a strong third place on the uphill finish in Étoile-sur-Rhône: “I felt good today, although it wasn’t easy with the strong wind and the cold we had to face the entire day. I almost crashed a couple of times, as the crosswinds made it extra difficult, but I managed to stay upright and finish on the podium, which gives me a lot of confidence for my upcoming races.”
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