Dion Smith has formed part of a reduced Wanty-Groupe Gobert squad for the Tour de l’Ain.  Smith’s race began strongly as the Kiwi formed part of the lead out train for Italian sprinter Andrea Pasqualon; with Smith crossing the line in 15th place.

Wanty-Groupe Gobert faced a bit of a setback in stage 1 of the Tour de l’Ain, with the Belgian outfit facing injury setback which meant that they line up for the three-day race with 4 riders instead of the allowed six.  That put them at a disadvantage against outfits such as AG2R La Mondiale, Groupama-FDJ and Astana, but they made the best of matters well in stage 1 from Saint-Vulbas to Montrevel-en-Bresse.  The 166.5km stage was primed for the sprinters, with the stage almost entirely pancake flat.  

Cofidis, Direct Energie and Fortuneo-Samsic did a lot of work to peg back the break of the day, a three-rider move that was comprised of Isaac Canton of Polartec-Kometa, Jan Tschernoster of the German National Team and Dimitri Bussard of the Swiss National Team.  They held a slender 37 second lead with 37km remaining as AG2R La Mondiale moved to the front of the race.

An attack from Bussard with 35km left to race put Tschernoster under pressure, a Direct Energie pushed the pace at the front, but it was an attack by Canton that proved to be the undoing of the break and he was the last man standing of a break that was entirely swept up with 33k to go.

With plenty of racing to go there was a lot of potential for further attacks though but there was not a lot of fluidity in the peloton, with a number of teams trying to control matters.  Wanty-Groupe Gobert were well positioned to mark the moves on the front and there were a couple of minor skirmishes, but nothing could go clear with the kilometres ticking away.

Direct Energie attacked with 14km to go but it only served to stretch the main field rather than force a move to go clear.  At 10km remaining it was anyone’s race to win, with no one team in control of the race.  Eventually Cofidis moved forward to take the reins and as the race approached 5km remaining they appeared to have the race much more comfortably in their grasp. 

They continued to lead through 5km to go until Groupama-FDJ and Astana both put in big turns to get to the front.  Wanty-Groupe Gobert, not having a train as such to work with, were nevertheless well positioned with two riders sitting in the first ten wheels in the bunch with 2km left to race.

The fight for the front saw Astana finally take control of the race, with Groupama-FDJ taking over under the 1km to go banner.  It was they who led out the sprint, with Hugo Hofstetter sitting fourth wheel.  The Frenchman hit for home in the closing metres, having been perfectly positioned for the sprint; and took a convincing win ahead of Lorrenzo Manzin of Vital Concept Cycling Club and Lilian Calmejane of Direct Energie.  Pasqualon crossed the Line in 6th place, with Dion Smith keeping close to the front and securing 15th place across the line.  

The result, which saw three Wanty-Groupe Gobert riders in the top 15, meant that they took the lead in the team classification after stage 1.

Tomorrow’s stage from Saint-Trivier-de Courtes to Arbent will be quite decisive for the field with plenty of climbing to tackle on the way to a not-quite-uphill-finish at the end of 151km.

Stage results:

Rank Last Name First Name Country Team Result
1 HOFSTETTER Hugo FRA        COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 03h52’38”
2 MANZIN Lorrenzo FRA        VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB 03h52’38”
3 CALMEJANE Lilian FRA        DIRECT ENERGIE 03h52’38”
4 PAGE Dylan SUI        SWITZERLAND 03h52’38”
5 FONSECA Armindo FRA        TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC 03h52’38”
6 PASQUALON Andrea ITA        WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT 03h52’38”
7 VERMEULEN Emiel BEL        ROUBAIX LILLE METROPOLE 03h52’38”
8 DUMOULIN Samuel FRA        AG2R LA MONDIALE 03h52’38”
9 KASPERKIEWICZ Przemyslaw POL        DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM 03h52’38”
10 GARCIA SOSA Jhojan Orlando COL        MANZANA POSTOBON TEAM 03h52’38”
11 MALDONADO Anthony FRA        ST MICHEL – AUBER 93 03h52’38”
12 DOUBEY Fabien FRA        WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT 03h52’38”
13 THOMAS Benjamin FRA        GROUPAMA – FDJ 03h52’38”
14 TLEUBAYEV Ruslan KAZ        ASTANA PRO TEAM 03h52’38”
15 SMITH Dion NZL        WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT 03h52’38”
16 BALLESTEROS CANOVAS Miguel Angel ESP        POLARTEC KOMETA 03h52’38”
17 DUCHESNE Antoine CAN        GROUPAMA – FDJ 03h52’38”
18 BOHORQUEZ SANCHEZ Hernando COL        MANZANA POSTOBON TEAM 03h52’38”
19 DELAPLACE Anthony FRA        TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC 03h52’38”
20 FEILLU Brice FRA        TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC 03h52’38”
21 JOURNIAUX Axel FRA        DIRECT ENERGIE 03h52’38”
22 TEKLEHAIMANOT Daniel ERI        COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 03h52’38”
23 HOULE Hugo CAN        ASTANA PRO TEAM 03h52’38”
24 SALMON Martin Alexander GER        DEVELOPMENT TEAM SUNWEB 03h52’38”
25 GAUDU David FRA        GROUPAMA – FDJ 03h52’38”
26 GIDICH Yevgeniy KAZ        ASTANA PRO TEAM 03h52’38”
27 COURTEILLE Arnaud FRA        VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB 03h52’38”
28 LE CUNFF Kevin FRA        ST MICHEL – AUBER 93 03h52’38”
29 THOMINET Camille FRA        ST MICHEL – AUBER 93 03h52’38”
30 BONNAFOND Guillaume FRA        COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 03h52’38”
31 THALMANN Roland SUI        SWITZERLAND 03h52’38”
32 NAULEAU Bryan FRA        DIRECT ENERGIE 03h52’38”
33 MADRAZO RUIZ Angel ESP        DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM 03h52’38”
34 HIRSCHI Marc SUI        DEVELOPMENT TEAM SUNWEB 03h52’38”
35 HALLER Patrick GER        GERMANY 03h52’38”
36 INKELAAR Kevin NED        POLARTEC KOMETA 03h52’38”
37 VILELA Ricardo POR        MANZANA POSTOBON TEAM 03h52’38”
38 IDJOUADIENE Pierre FRA        ROUBAIX LILLE METROPOLE 03h52’38”
39 HEINSCHKE Leon GER        DEVELOPMENT TEAM SUNWEB 03h52’38”
40 FEILLU Romain FRA        ST MICHEL – AUBER 93 03h52’38”
41 ARERUYA Joseph RWA        DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM 03h52’38”
42 VINCENT Léo FRA        GROUPAMA – FDJ 03h52’38”
43 GRELLIER Fabien FRA        DIRECT ENERGIE 03h52’38”
44 BANZER Gordian SUI        SWITZERLAND 03h52’38”
45 HABTOM TEKLE Awet ERI        POLARTEC KOMETA 03h52’38”
46 GALLOPIN Tony FRA        AG2R LA MONDIALE 03h52’38”
47 PETERS Nans FRA        AG2R LA MONDIALE 03h52’38”
48 PEREZ Anthony FRA        COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 03h52’38”
49 SICARD Romain FRA        DIRECT ENERGIE 03h52’38”
50 VICHOT Arthur FRA        GROUPAMA – FDJ 03h52’38”
51 LE TURNIER Mathias FRA        COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 03h52’38”
52 PERICHON Pierre Luc FRA        TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC 03h52’38”
53 PENA MOLANO Wilson Estiben COL        POLARTEC KOMETA 03h52’38”
54 RIES Michel LUX        POLARTEC KOMETA 03h52’38”
55 STALNOV Nikita KAZ        ASTANA PRO TEAM 03h52’38”
56 AGUIRRE CAIPA Hernan Ricardo COL        MANZANA POSTOBON TEAM 03h52’38”
57 VILLEGAS CARDONA Juan Pablo COL        MANZANA POSTOBON TEAM 03h52’38”
58 PAROZ Justin SUI        SWITZERLAND 03h52’38”
59 DUARTE AREVALO Fabio Andres COL        MANZANA POSTOBON TEAM 03h52’38”
60 REUTTER Sven GER        GERMANY 03h52’38”
61 STORK Florian GER        DEVELOPMENT TEAM SUNWEB 03h52’38”
62 BALDO Nicolas FRA        ST MICHEL – AUBER 93 03h52’38”
63 SEIGLE Romain FRA        GROUPAMA – FDJ 03h52’38”
64 MOBACH Jarno NED        DEVELOPMENT TEAM SUNWEB 03h52’38”
65 FILOSI Iuri ITA        DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM 03h52’38”
66 BAGOT Yoann FRA        VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB 03h52’38”
67 FERNANDEZ CRUZ Delio ESP        DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM 03h52’38”
68 FOMINYKH Daniil KAZ        ASTANA PRO TEAM 03h52’38”
69 TAARAMÄE Rein EST        DIRECT ENERGIE 03h52’38”
70 MAINARD Jerome FRA        ROUBAIX LILLE METROPOLE 03h52’38”
71 SCHINNAGEL Johannes GER        GERMANY 03h52’38”
72 ROHDE Leon GER        GERMANY 03h52’38”
73 LUNKE Sindre Skjøstad NOR        TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC 03h52’38”
74 MORENO BAZAN Javier ESP        DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM 03h52’38”
75 PACHER Quentin FRA        VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB 03h52’38”
76 CHEVRIER Clement FRA        AG2R LA MONDIALE 03h52’38”
77 BADILATTI Matteo SUI        SWITZERLAND 03h52’38”
78 ADAMIETZ Johannes GER        GERMANY 03h52’38”
79 MAISON Jérémy FRA        TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC 03h52’38”
80 BIZHIGITOV Zhandos KAZ        ASTANA PRO TEAM 03h52’38”
81 EDET Nicolas FRA        COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 03h52’38”
82 BUSSARD Dimitri SUI        SWITZERLAND 03h52’38”
83 ANTOMARCHI Julien FRA        ROUBAIX LILLE METROPOLE 03h52’38”
84 JOLY Thomas FRA        ROUBAIX LILLE METROPOLE 03h52’38”
85 GALL Felix AUT        DEVELOPMENT TEAM SUNWEB 03h52’38”
86 MOTTIER Justin FRA        VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB 03h52’38”
87 LE BON Johan FRA        VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB 03h52’38”
88 DUVAL Julien FRA        AG2R LA MONDIALE 03h53’05”
89 ANTONINI Simone ITA        WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT 03h53’12”
90 CANTON SERRANO Isaac ESP        POLARTEC KOMETA 03h55’44”
91 TSCHERNOSTER Jan GER        GERMANY 03h55’44”
  OFFREDO Yoann FRA        WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT DNS

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