Etixx – Quick-Step to Tour de l’Ain
Four stages, 13 classified climbs and a total of 600 kilometers – that's what the riders will face this week.
One of the most mountainous short stage races of the calendar – which became open to pro riders in 1993, four years after it was created – Tour de l'Ain has dropped for the 28th edition its traditional prologue in favour of a road stage which will see the sprinters get a rare chance of nabbing a victory. One day later, Val de Saône will make its return to the event following a year of absence, with a course very much to the attackers' liking, who can try to go all in on Côte de Cessiat, with less than 25 kilometers from the finish.
Friday schedules the sole mountain top finish of the Tour de l'Ain, at Lélex Monts-Jura, after a carbon copy stage of the one that decided the overall standings at the previous edition. The race will conclude with another difficult stage, one in which Col de la Rochette and Col du Grand Colombier (20.5 kilometers at an average gradient of 6.1%) can stir things up one more time in the general classification.
Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels is set to lead Etixx – Quick-Step at the four-day stage race, his first race since Clasica San Sebastian, at the end of last month. Matteo Trentin will have his eyes on the opening stage, where he'll count on the support of countryman Davide Martinelli, one of the most impressive neo-pros of 2016. The squad will be rounded out by Maxime Bouet, who showed his strong legs in Vuelta a Burgos, Dwars door het Hageland winner Niki Terpstra and Lukasz Wisniowski, the 24-year-old Pole who was instrumental in the victory Terpstra got last week in Belgium.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele