Dol-de-Bretagne, France - After getting caught in another mid-race crash, Rui Oliveira leaned on his teammates to bridge him up to the breakaway where he was able to sprint to a 4th place finish on the second to last stage at Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste.
Dutchman Julius Van Den Berg (SEG Racing) held off Fabien Schmidt (Côtes d'Armor-Marie Morin-Véranda Rideau) to take the victory on Monday’s stage 6. Johan Le Bon (Vital Concept Cycling Club) finished in 3rd.
Early on in the 152 km stage, Hagens Berman Axeon rider João Almeida and 9 other riders formed a breakaway, at one point holding a 2:00 lead on the peloton.
“I bridged up to João’s group with about 60 km to go,” said Jonny Brown. “Once I caught the break, it was a pretty big group, maybe 10-12 guys, but wasn’t very organized.”
Brown described that once the break entered the final four circuits, that all changed. Soon, it dwindled down to 6 riders as they began launching multiple attacks. When they entered the circuits, Brown figured they would be caught because they only had a 25 second advantage.
“The circuits are so hectic and technical that it’s hard to close any gap,” said Brown. “With 8 km to go, 3 of the 6 attacked and got clear. When the few of us left got caught by a chase group of 20 riders, including Maikel [Zijlaard] and Rui, I put my head down and gave every last bit of energy I had to help Rui because I knew he could win. In the end, we couldn’t close the gap to the 3 that finished on the podium, but Rui still won the sprint out of the small group for 4th place.”
Initially after his crash, Oliveira felt usure if he’d be able to muster the strength to do more than simply hang on since he hit his back hard against the ground and his breathing felt more labored. His determination as well as that of his teammates paid off.
“I was suffering a lot to get back to the field and the crosswinds didn’t help,” said Oliveira. “But after we entered into the circuits, I forgot about the pain. Today was only possible thanks to Jonny who worked really hard to keep the group away and catch the break as well as Maikel who helped me to get into the second group and execute a perfect lead out.”
Brown finished the stage in 19th place, his best of the season, while Zijlaard finished immediately behind him. In the general classification, Zeke Mostov, Oliveira, and Brown sit in 20th, 21st, and 22nd places respectively. Jarno Mobach (Development Team Sunweb) usurped Herman Dahl (Team Joker Icopal) at the top of the GC.
“Today was another difficult day with hectic local laps and a pave climb,” said sport director Koos Moerenhout. “It has been a tough week; every day the race has been full on. Races like these are good experience for the guys, with both physical and mental challenges. It’s the kind of race that will make you a better rider.”
Tuesday is the 7th and final day of Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste.
(Header image of Rui Oliveira by Davey Wilson.)