Stage 2 - Salies du Salat to Plateau de Beille
|The Break (via directvelo.com)
The stage itself was more or less flat for the first 100 something kilometers saw a lot of attacks with Will Barta (USA) getting into yet another attack with about 9 others after 50 kilometers. For about the next 70 kilometers, the break rode out front but once it got lumpy out on the road, Barta flew the coop with roughly 30 kilometers left to go. Thomas Alfonso (Midi-Pyrenees) briefly bridged up to Barta while Paul Sauvage (CR4C Roanne) hopped out of the peloton and bridged and then passed the duo and was the leader on the road once the race hit Plateau de Beille.
Just before the beginning of the climb, 2nd place Laurens De Plus had a mechanical and missed the split but once the lead group of 17 was formed on the lower slopes of the climb, the Lotto-Soudal Belgian was back in the fold. While the initial racing was controlled, an attack by Guillaume Martin (CC Etupes) lit the paper and soon after, his teammate Jeremy Maison attacked with roughly 9 kilometers to go. De Plus and leader Simone Petilli still had multiple riders around them initially but in only a few kilometers, it was De Plus, Petilli and Martin chasing the flying Maison, who had 30 seconds on them.
|Maison flying up Plateau de Beille (via Ronde de l'Isard)
Jérémy MAISON remporte la deuxième étape, au Plateau de Beille http://t.co/Vf1LPclrPX pic.twitter.com/F8YbTpJywV
— Ronde de l'Isard (@RondeIsard) May 22, 2015
In the end, Maison just battered the chasers and even with a more concerted effort at the end, the CC Etupes rider pulled out 1'05" on the chasing trio that was led in by Laurens De Plus. Papillon and Paret-Peintre came in within 2 minutes while Pinckey, Michigan product Alexey Vermeulen (USA) put in a very impressive ride with 7th place after being stuck in no-man's land for a while on the climb.
The GC race got even tigher as Petilli's lead was reduced to just 10 seconds on De Plus while Maison's bravery got him within 23 seconds of the lead.
Stage 3 Auterive - Boulogne-sur-Gesse
After the GC turbulence on the big mountain on Friday, Petilli and his Unieuro-Wilier teammates were content to let a group go that would soak up the sprint bonuses and allow the big boys some rest. A breakaway of 5 got a gap within a few kilometers and that was all the race wrote.
The breakaway consisted of Xabier San Sebastian (Euskadi), Benoit Cosnefroy (Chambery CF), Paul Ourselin (Vendeé U), Stéphen Géuvel (Côtes d'Armor) and Valentin Deverchère (CR4C Roanne) and their gap went up to nearly 10 minutes within 30 kilometers. That would mean a combination of them having the accelerator jammed open and the peloton basically pulling over to get a gap that big in such a short period.
The action came quite late in the stage when San Sebastian and Cosnefroy attacked with roughly 3 kilometers to go and the others seemingly had no impetus to chase. Euskadi v. Chambery CF sprint showdown after 160 kilometers of lumpy terrain? Thrilling stuff for certain.
Xabier San Sebastian Lasa @FundaCiclisEusk s'impose d'un rien devant Benoit Cosnefroy @ChamberyCF #rondeisard pic.twitter.com/dZpqa0cUY0
— RADIOVELO (@radiovelo31) May 23, 2015
As you can see, Xabi San Sebastian was able to take a thrilling win ahead of Cosnefroy to give Euskadi a nice UCI win for the season. It was San Sebastian's 2nd win of the season with the other being a stunner in the 7th round of the Copa de Espana where he held off a speeding peloton to take the win. The remnants of the break came in 20 seconds later while the peloton, led it by Michael Bresciani (Roth-Skoda), didn't come in for another 4'30" minutes.
The GC situation stayed stagnant for the big showdown over 3 massive cols to the downhill finish in St. Girons. Simone Petilli is only up by 10 seconds on a very strong looking Laurens De Plus, who along with his team are leading every other classification, while Jeremy Maison lurks just 23 seconds back and is very dangerous after his exploits on Plateau de Beille. Can Guillaume Martin seemingly come back from a minute plus deficit to steal the jersey? Follow the live ticker on directvelo to see!