Hugo Houle shows fighting spirit on Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var stage 2
Hugo Houle showed strong early season form to stay away until the final kilometres after riding in the day´s break on Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var stage 2.
After multiple attacks, the Canadian rider found himself in a seven-man breakaway which opened up a four-minute advantage at the start of the stage.
Strong cooperation in the breakaway allowed the group to hold their advantage until the final kilometres of the race, by which point Houle was one of two riders left standing, before the peloton swept them up with just two kilometres to go.
The grueling final kilometre offered an average gradient of 9.8%, with Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) taking the win, while Jakob Fuglsang and Harold Tejada crossed the line 13 seconds back to move into 11th and 16th on the General Classification respectively.
Hugo Houle was rewarded with the combativity prize after his amazing effort on today´s stage.
It was a good day at the front, we had a good group and worked perfectly together. With one lap to go we had a selection and ended up being five guys at the front and we picked up the pace to hold on the gap. On the hardest part I pushed a little bit more and as a result, we were three guys left then. We had a headwind in the final part and a much faster road, which was an advantage for the bunch, but we tried to stay away and I gave it a good try. I am really happy with my shape as yesterday I was a little bit disappointed but today was really good and stepping onto the podium to get the combativity prize was the icing on the cake for me today. – said Hugo Houle
The guys did a good race. After the start, Manuele, Fabio, and Hugo tried to distance themselves but with the pace increasing, only Hugo stayed away. He did a great race at the front, while the others stayed in the bunch to control the race and to support Jakob. It was not an easy stage, especially the finale was quite tough but we tried. It is Jakob´s first race of the season, so of course he is still building up his form. But, all in all, we can be satisfied, we are on the right track towards our season goals. – said Stefano Zanini, Sports Director
Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var
Stage 2: Fayence – Fayence, (168.9km)
Top 3: 1. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation); 2. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo); 3. Jhonatan Narváez (INEOS Grenadiers).
Astana – Premier Tech Top-3: 15. Jakob Fuglsang; 22. Harold Tejada; 53. Omar Fraile;
GC Top-3: 1. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation); 2. Bauke Mollema (Trek–Segafredo); 3. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ).
Astana – Premier Tech GC Top-3: 11. Jakob Fuglsang; 16. Harold Tejada; 42. Omar Fraile.
Photo credit: @GettyImages