It has been 15 years since Graziano Gasparre went through his banner U23 year when he won the European U23 RR, the Giro della Regioni and the Ronde de l'Isard overall. An Italian hasn't been close to the Ariege region since and no Italians have been on the podium of the Ronde de l'Isard since Gasparre's triumph.
It looks like the long draught might be coming to an end soon. Simone Petilli (UniEuro-Wilier) is still a U23 but has been swinging with the pros this season with 15th overall in the Coppi e Bartali and top 20 finishes scattered all over his racing calendar. Petilli broke away from Belgian Laurens De Plus (Lotto-Soudal U23) roughly halfway up the finishing climb of Goulier-Neige and was able to keep a small lead on the fiesty Belgian all the way up the climb to take the opening stage win of the Ronde de l'Isard by 12 seconds.
The duo has broked away near the bottom of the climb but it was Petilli who separated from De Plus while riders such as Guillaume Martin (CC Etupes) and Lorenzo Rota (UniEuro) tried but failed to make any dent in the gap. Martin was able to come across 3rd but was 1'03" back at the finish. First year U23s David Gaudu and Aurelien Paret-Peintre came across together in 4th and 5th at 1'25" with Marco Tecchio (UniEuro).