Timothy Dupont (Ventilair-Steria) continued his outstanding season with his 2nd stage win of the Tour de Bretagne as he outsprinted Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-iHNed) and Nick van der Lijke (Rabobank Development) in a bunch sprint into Le Quillio, situated in the heart of Brittany. It was Dupont's ninth win of the year and his 8th podium place in his last two UCI stage races (Tour du Loir-et-Cher and here).
The racing was intense from the start as a group of 17, including overall leader Riccardo Zoidl (Gourmetfein-Simplon) and 2nd place Nick van der Lijke, who were only separated by 6 seconds at the start of the day. This dangerous group was eventually brought back but not after van der Lijke was able to take one bonus second.
After this group was brought back, the main breakaway of the day consisted of former junior World Champion Olivier Le Gac (BIC 2000) and Tim Van Speybroeck (Ventilair-Steria) and the duo was given a pretty big lead at nearly 5 minutes at its biggest. Today's stage went over the Mur de Bretagne multiple times, a hill that featured in the 4th stage of the 2011 Tour de France, where Cadel Evans won in a select sprint over other favorites.
As the duo of Le Gac and Van Speybroeck summited the climb multiple times, the gap began to drop and the speed of the peloton picked up. Le Gac attacked solo when the gap got down to 30 seconds but his attempts were for naught as Ventilair-Steria and Rabobank were looking to bring everything back together for the sprint. Late attacks by Sojasun's Fabrice Jeandeboz and Paul Poux were nipped in the bud and at the end, it was Dupont that put his arms aloft in victory.
With his 3rd place, van der Lijke moved to just 1 second behind Riccardo Zoidl's yellow jersey. Don't expect a miracle by van der Lijke though. Zoidl was 14th in the World TT Championships last year in Valkenburg and along with another hilly stage to round out the race on Wednesday, it will be next to impossible for van der Lijke to usurp the Austrian Zoidl.
Dupont, the reigning Belgian elite w/o contract champion, has been on fire this season and especially since the end of March. Since his win at Wevelgem on March 23, only twice has Dupont finished outside the top 10 in any race, including stages. In the two UCI stage races he has done this year, Tour du Loir-et-Cher and now the Tour de Bretagne, Dupont's lowest placing is 7th. Dupont won the points jersey at Loir-et-Cher and looks on track to do the same here at Bretagne with two stage wins, a 3rd, 5th and 7th. As of now, it would be a travesty if Dupont doesn't get a pro contract next season.