Tour de la Provence
Stage 3) Istres - Chalet Reynard Mont Ventoux
Cavagna shows again panache and grit
Since debuting in the Deceuninck – Quick-Step colours three years ago, Rémi Cavagna began making a name for himself as one of the peloton’s finest baroudeurs, a rider undaunted by the difficulty of a race or the weather. Long, solo breakaways at the Tour de Pologne or the Tour of Guangxi showed glimpses of his potential, and even though ended up in a frustrating manner for the young Frenchman, who was caught just kilometers from the finish, fed his confidence and acted as incentive to continue on this path.
That’s how he notched up his first World Tour victory, at last season’s Tour of California, by the largest winning margin seen in years (over seven minutes), and his maiden Grand Tour stage, just a few months later, when he dropped his breakaway companions on the rolling roads to Toledo and fended off an entire raging peloton to cap off what was another demonstration of sheer power.
At the Tour de la Provence, he decided to animate again the day from the break, and did it with great aplomb, igniting the stage’s main move immediately after the start, which saw him being joined by four other man, together with whom he opened a five-minute gap over the peloton. With 50 kilometers to go, not happy with how things went in the group, “The TGV of Clermont-Ferrand” sailed clear on a technical descent, showing his companions a clean pair of wheels and taking his advantage to six minutes.
It was another testament to the bravery and determination of the 24-year-old, who emptied himself as he tried to remain at the front, despite his margin plummeting once the GC teams went into another speed in the bunch. Shoulders rocking and teeth gritting, exhausted after his unbelievable effort that saw him spend 120 kilometers at the front, Rémi was caught two kilometers into the climb of Mont Ventoux, which appeared for the first time in five editions on the Tour de la Provence route.
“It was a nice day on the bike, the kind of day I like. I knew before the start that I would attack and went sole at first, before four other riders made it across. Then, with around 50 kilometers to go, I decided to take my chance, because the speed in the group went a bit down. 25 kilometers from the finish, when the gap sat at six minutes, I was still thinking it was possible to make it and take the victory, but then I began to feel in my legs the day in the break and that brutal climb was too much and they caught me. Still, it was a good training for the next races and I’m content with my ride”, a smiling Cavagna said after the penultimate stage, at the end of which he took the podium to be awarded with the most combative rider trophy.
Andrea Bagioli continues to be the best-positioned Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider in the Tour de la Provence general classification, after concluding in the top 20 the stage won by Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) at Chalet Reynard, a 9.5km climb averaging 9.4% which made for some big and potentially decisive gaps.
Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen / Getty Images