Wed, 30 Sep 2020

Ineos and Jumbo exchange blows at Tour de l'Ain

08 Aug 2020, 06:12 GMT+10

Two of cycling's heavyweight teams clashed for the first time since racing resumed as Egan Bernal of Ineos matched a series of attacks by Jumbo-Visma's Primoz Roglic on the opening stage of the Tour de l'Ain.

Andrea Bagioli of Deceuninck-Quick Step grabbed the victory exploiting a late blunder by Roglic.

Bagioli is a team-mate of Fabio Jakobsen, who was brought out of a medically-induced coma on Friday after a horrific crash in the Tour of Poland two days previously.

In a season shorn of its usual gradual acceleration because of the disruption caused by coronavirus, British team Ineos and Dutch outfit Jumbo both look likely to take three leaders to the Tour de France, which has been delayed until 29 August.

On Friday their first clash was fierce.

Reigning Tour de France champion Bernal and the previous two winners Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome started for Ineos.

Jumbo fielded Roglic, former Giro and world champion Tom Dumoulin and the 2019 Tour de France third-place finisher Steven Kruijswijk.

While Froome finished 1min 46sec down on the main pack, Bernal and Thomas kept pace.

"It was definitely strange to start with. Going from training on your own for weeks during lockdown, then to Tenerife riding in a group again - to suddenly be back in a peloton like that was definitely different," said 2018 Tour winner Thomas.

"I felt like I had legs decent enough to follow the moves. It was a nice start and it gets progressively harder now each day."

Roglic, a former ski-jump champion, took the fight to Ineos trying to break clear first on a climb and then from the front of the peloton over the final five kilometres. Bernal reeled him in every time.

Over the final section, Dumoulin led Roglic out before a lapse of concentration from the Slovenian allowed victory to slip.

The next two stages both feature summit finishes and promise to make enthralling watching as the two powerful squads size each other up with the Tour looming.

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