Tour de l'Ain: Matthias Brändle in the day's breakaway group
The third stage of the Tour de l'Ain took the field of riders into the Jura Mountains. The route covered 148 kilometers from Belley to Montreal-la-Cluse. Daniel Navarro (Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) launched a spirited attack shortly before the finish to secure victory ahead of Alexey Lutsenko (Astana CT) and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp). Team NetApp's best rider was Matthias Brändle, who was able to hold on for a long time in the day's breakaway group, crossing the finish line in 15th place. He is now ranked 9th in the general classification with only 31 seconds behind the overall leader.
The race got off to a fast and hectic start. After 40 kilometers a larger group managed to break away from the field. The peloton was unable to catch up to the group's nearly 14-minute lead. After several attacks, however, the top group broke apart on the last two mountains. Just a few kilometers before the finish, Daniel Navarro broke away from the first group, claiming victory by just a few seconds. Matthias Brändle reached the finish line with the second group.
"Today all of the riders tried to implement our strategy. The group was good, but we would have liked to have had two riders in there. Then it would have been ideal. Unfortunately, our plan didn't quite work out, but we'll have another opportunity tomorrow. We'll keep trying to maintain and improve Matthias's good overall standing," Enrico Poitschke said after the race.
NetApp rider Michael Schwarzmann unfortunately had to abandon the race due to illness.
The next to last stage is another classic mountain stage. Starting in Nantua, the stage will cover 156.7 kilometers with two category-2 mountain classifications. The race finishes in Septmoncel at an elevation of 880 meters with a category-1 final climb.
Stage 1, August 7th
Montmerle-Sur-Saone – Trevoux (146,2 km)
Stage 2, August 8th
Lagnieu – Amberieu-en-Bugey (83 km)
TTT – Saint-Vulbas / Plaine de L’Ain (10,7 km)
Stage 3, August 9th
Belley – Montreal-la-Cluse (148,5 km)
Stage 4, August 10th
Nantua – Septmoncel (156,7 km)
Stage 5, August 11th
Saint-Claude – Lelex Monts-Jura (134,7 km)
Jan Barta, Daniel Schorn, Andre Schulze, Michael Schwarzmann, Markus Eichler, Matthias Brändle, Blaz Jarc