The Dane came close to finishing on the podium at an entertaining Ardèche Classic.
The 21st edition of the French race was again peppered by numerous attacks from the off, last year’s winner Rémi Cavagna being among those who tried to join the early breakaway. All the efforts that came in the first 30 kilometers were to no avail, a group of five going clear only on one of the numerous hills of the 171.5km course around Guilherand-Granges, once the peloton decided there was no point in chasing anymore for the time being.
With 30 kilometers to go, when the bunch was closing in on the remaining three escapees, attacks started flying out of the group. Mikkel Honoré attacked on Mur de Cornas and quickly opened a gap before being joined by six men. Together, they caught the leaders and continued at a strong tempo until Saint-Romain-de-Lerps, where more attacks came. Two riders got away, and Mikkel came agonisingly close to joining them, only four seconds separating him from the duo over the top of the climb.
The chasing group bridged across but this didn’t help their cause, as many weren’t willing to share the workload. That was the cue for Mikkel to put in another dig, this time on Val d’Enfer, the last hill on the course, in a bid to get on terms with the leaders, but in the end – despite his admirable effort – he finished fourth, just 28 seconds behind David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), who took the win.
“The race was very hard, all the time up and down, but it’s the kind of race I like and all in all it was a good day for us. I attacked several times today, as I was feeling pretty good, but when the decisive attack came, I just missed a bit. We had a chance to catch those in the front, but some of the guys in the group didn’t work, so that was that. Then I tried again, before the top of the last hill, gave it my all and in the end ended up fourth. I am happy with my condition and the effort the entire team put in today and I take a lot of confidence from this, as it was my first race of the season”, said Mikkel, who on Sunday will be in action at the Drôme Classic.
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