Alex Frame finished stage 4 of the Tour de la Provence on a high note, supporting Trek-Segafredo teammate John Degenkolb to his first – and the team’s second – win of the season. It brings to an end a tricky four days of racing that was far from a sprinter’s tour, but Frame is happy to be stuck back into racing again on the continent.
With second place for Toms Skujins in stage 3 to Le Castellet and victory for Degenkolb in the race’s finale in Aix-en-Provence, Alex Frame can look back on the Tour de la Provence with satisfaction at a job well done. It was a race that saw A-Frame improve into over time; an upward trajectory he hopes will continue as the spring calendar kicks into gear.
“It was a really hard hilly tour. I wasn’t super but came good near the end. It was awesome to help John with the stage win today and Toms with 2nd place yesterday. It’s a good block of racing before all the spring races start and to dust off all the jet lag and get used to crazy Euro racing again. “
The destination of the overall crown was decided in stage 2 to La Ciotat where Eduard Prades of Movistar took the stage honours ahead of Tony Gallopin of AG2R La Mondiale and Gorka Izagirre of Astana. Izagirre took the race lead by 2 seconds from Thibaut Pinot of Groupama-FDJ. From there it was a case of going on the defensive, and despite a late charge from Simon Clarke of EF Education-First it was the Spaniard who held on to claim the win.
Thrown into the pack in amongst a peloton that also included the likes of Philippe Gilbert, Warren Barguil, Pierre Rolland, Nicolas Roche, Sep Vanmarcke and co, Alex was content to get his head down and work for his teammates.
“We were right in the deep end with a race like this in France with some really big names and also 2 or 3 smaller teams with guys super hungry for a result and not shy of a risk or two,” Frame said. “I’m always just looking to help out as much as I can when we take some of our top guys to a race like this.”
“There’s lots of experience to be gained and I can build my engine so I can work towards my own goals. But most of the time that means doing a job and getting spat before the end but that’s pro racing and I just hope to keep improving in every aspect of the game.”
Stage 4 of the tour took the field 162.2km from Avignon to Aix-en-Provence. The tricky course provided a couple of late climbs, and heading towards 10km to go Degenkolb found himself in the wrong end of a split that had occurred in the bunch. But credit to Trek-Segafredo, they managed to not only bring Degenkolb back into the fold, but then also played a leading role in bringing back Team Sky’s Eddie Dunbar and Groupama-FDJ’s David Gaudu with just 1km left to go.
Alex Frame crossed the line in a large group containing Sep Vanmarcke and Tim Declercq.
The European World Tour season kicks off on 2nd March with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad before moving to Strade Bianche on 9th March and then straight into Paris-Nice from 10th-17th and Tirreno-Adriatico from 13th-19th.