It was a dramatic day of racing at Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, with French riders triumphing – with typical panache – in both races.
At the Race to the Sun, TotalEnergies’ Mathieu Burgaudeau held off a charging peloton with metres to spare to take his first ever professional victory.
Following strong moves from Britain’s Matthew Holmes and Team DSM’s Søren Kragh Andersen (with his by now customary doomed attack on every stage), Burgaudeau made his move over the short climb to the intermediate spring with nine kilometres remaining.
The 23-year-old, who took an impressive fifth place overall in last month’s Etoile de Bessèges, gave it his all on the following descent – taking a few risks along the way – to open up 20 seconds on the chasing bunch.
Despite the efforts of Jumbo-Visma and Trek-Segafredo behind, that gap was enough for Burgaudeau to take the win after a nerve-jangling finale, with Mads Pedersen and Wout van Aert taking second and third mere metres behind the strong and canny Frenchman.
If today’s exhilarating finale wasn’t enough, here are some more reasons to sign up for Burgaudeau’s fan club (which should be called, if there’s any justice, Burg’s Babes):
At Tirreno-Adriatico, the climbing enigma Warren Barguil made it a clean sweep for France with a dominant solo victory in Fermo. The Arkea-Samsic rider looked the strongest of the day’s break on the short, steep ramps towards the end of the stage, and eventually broke clear on the double-digit gradients to take a comfortable win.
Behind, drama ensued as the big three of Tirreno (and quite possibly, stage racing over the next few years), Tadej Pogačar, Remco Evenepoel, and Jonas Vingegaard all strayed off course after Evenepoel overshot a corner with six kilometres to go.
At that stage, the trio had broken clear following an Evenepoel acceleration and looked set to hunt Barguil down. Despite a somewhat frustrated chase from the Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl prodigy, all three ended up finishing together, only ceding two short seconds to a late attack from Ineos Grenadiers’ Richie Porte.
Despite the mishap, the sight of Pogačar, Evenepoel, and Vingegaard riding away from their rivals must be an ominous one for any rider with aspirations of grand tour success over the next decade. To paraphrase music critic Jon Landau, I have seen the future of stage racing (for a few kilometres at least), and its name is Pog, Remco and Jonas…