In my preview for the Ronde de l'Goat Antelope (l'Isard), I said that Alexander Foliforov was a favorite for Itera-Katusha but he was prone to inconsistency, which saw him out of the hunt for the general classification in many races. Well the race just started but it might be looking like I need to insert my foot into my mouth. Foliforov got into the elite selection with Louis Vervaeke (Lotto-Belisol U23), Jaime Roson (Team Ecuador) & Maxime Le Lavandier (Chambery CF) and with only a few kilometers left, Foliforov attacked the others and was able to pull out a win. He has had brilliant flashes in the big mountains but now he has the uphill task of keeping the leader's jersey.
The stage started with a breakaway of 11 that would spend the majority of the day out front. Juan Osorio (4-72 Colombia), Justin Oien (USA National), Guillaume Thévenot (Vendée U) and Alexandre Delétang (Armée de Terre) were all apart of the breakaway that would eventually get a maximum lead of over 7 and a half minutes with 65 kilometers to go. Dorian Lebrat (Chambery CF) won the first KOM spot ahead of Osorio and Oien and the next 100 kilometers were more or less flat before the difficult summit finish at the Goulier-Neige ski station. The next little GPM bump was at 68km to go where Delétang took the points ahead of Lebrat and Joren Touquet (Verandas Willems). After the 2nd GPM point, the gap started to come down steadily to the breakaway.
A few riders began to drop off the breakaway with 20 kilometers to go, which made the front group just 7 riders as the road began to tilt upward. With 13 kilometers to go, the gap was just a minute for the group of 7 and the proper climb was still to come. The group got onto the climb to the ski station and it was only Osorio, Oien and Thévenot left.
After the breakaway was brought back shortly after the climb started, the lead group was more or less formed with 7km to go. Louis Vervaeke, Maxime Le Lavandier, Valentin Dufour (Vendée U), Alexander Foliforov and Jaime Roson were out front by themselves with Ildar Arslanov (Itera-Katusha) and Bernando Suaza (4-72 Colombia) right behind them. The whole group came together with 5km to go but soon enough, it was Vervaeke, Le Lavandier, Foliforov and Roson alone and pulling away.
The quartet got to the 3km to go sign together before Foliforov launched an attack. The Russian was in full diesel mode and was pulling out a second here and a second there. With 1.2 kilometers to go, he had 5 seconds on the trio. He pulled out even more time in the final kilometer and charged up to the line for the win. Roson and Vervaeke pulled in together down 14 seconds and Le Lavandier came in 20 seconds in arrears. Arslanov was the next to come in but he was over a minute down on his teammate Foliforov while Dufour, who was originally with the group, came in 1'09" down.
Foliforov has been on good form a few times this year and won the queen stage at the GP Adygeya and was on the podium at the Trofeo Piva Banca but like I said before, he sometimes is a bit inconsistent. Itera has a strong team here and will be very strong to defend and could pull time out in the TTT coming up on the 3rd day.
-Ever Rivera (4-72 Colombia) was a non-starter today.