Tom Pidcock and New Zealand National Champion James Fouche have starred in the opening three stages of the Tour Alsace, with the former taking victory in stage 2 to La Planche des Belles Filles and the latter being best young rider for a day.
After two stages of the 5-day Tour Alsace in France James Fouche was well-positioned and in the lead of the best young rider’s classification, with his British teammate taking centre stage in the mountainous second road stage.
Riding for Team Wiggins Le Col, the reigning national road race champion, took to the start line with teammates Thomas Pidcock and Daniel Tulett in a field of 162 riders split into 54 teams for the opening team time trial. Despite Team Wiggins Le Col fielding six riders in total with Samuel Jenner, Michael O’Loughlin and Mark Donovan also in the field; riders took to the start line of the team time trial in groups of three.
Together with Pidcock and Tulett, Fouche stopped the clock at the end of the 4.3km opening stage in Sausheim with the 4th best time of the day.
Corendon-Circus filled positions 1 and 2, with a time of 5.02mins putting Gianni Vermeersch in the leader’s jersey ahead of David Van Der Poel and Tim Merlier. They finished 5 seconds clear of their teammates Jonas Rickaert, Otto Vergaerde and Jimmy Janssens with the Swiss Cycling Team just edging Wiggins Le Col for third place with a 7 second deficit.
Overall the result meant that Fouche ended the stage 11th overall at 7 seconds; and 4th in the young rider classification behind Damian Lüscher of the Swiss Cycling Team.
Matters changed somewhat in stage 1 starting and finishing in Sélestat. The 153.4km stage ended with a big bunch finish, with Fouche remaining in the main field, but gaining time through bonus seconds over Stefan Bissegger and Damian Lüscher to sit top of the young rider classification with a 6 second buffer.
Fouche infiltrated the break of the day that featured Jan Barta of Elkov-Author, Torkill Veyhe of Riwal-Readynez, Florian Vermeersch of Lotto Soudal U23 and Shotaro Iribe of Japan. Together the group worked to build a lead that peaked around the 4.40min mark, with Fouche prominent in the four intermediate sprint opportunities that featured throughout the stage.
After taking second place in the first sprint and fourth in the second after 70km, Fouche took first place at the sprint at 86km and third in the sprint at 121km. The result saw him put 6 seconds into his nearest young rider rivals and take the lead in the classification.
Today’s stage took the field 143.1km with further GC changes expected as the race finished on the climb of La Planche Des Belles Filles. With overnight leader Tim Merlier struggling early in what was a brutal day of racing, Tom Pidcock seized his opportunity to strike, going on the attack early with Alex Evans of SEG Racing Academy.
The Australian and the Brit finished clear of Kevin Inkelaar of Equipe Contentale Groupama-FDJ, with the result seeing Pidcock take over the lead for best young rider and the yellow jersey of overall leader.
More to come . . .