Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) wins the Classic de l’Ardèche 2018 thanks to a solo flight. The 2016 Tour de France runner-up attacked along the slopes of the Coteaux du Cornas climb with over 24 kilometers remaining together with Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Samsic) and has kept the lead until the finish line. Gesbert soon lost the wheels of Bardet, who gets in this manner his first seasonal success. Maximilian Schachmann (Quick Step Floors) took the second place, winning the sprint of the chasers over Liliane Calmejane (Direct Energie), Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r La Mondiale) and David Gaudu (FDJ).
The first stages of race go on in a spirit of laissez faire. In facts, the peloton allows the breakaway to open a massive gap. After 50 kilometers of racing the break composed of Lucas De Rossi (Delko-Provence Marseille-KTM), Adam de Vos (Rally Cycling), Jerome Mainard (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), Yohann Paillot (St. Michel-Auber 93) and Simone Sterbini (Bardiani-CSF) extend its lead to 10 minutes of advantage.
Mainly due to the pace set in the head of the pack by Ag2r La Mondiale the gap lessens to 1’50” with 60 kilometers remaining. At this point of racing De Rossi drops the break and French espoir Victor Lafay tries to jump across the gap. With 36 kilometers to go Sterbini attacks and goes solo and sits for several kilometers with the same advantage the four-men break used to have over the peloton. In the meanwhile, the chasers get caught by the bunch.
When the group hits the Coteaux du Cornas Sterbini sits a handful of seconds ahead of the pack and, once the Italian is swallowed into the peloton, Romain Bardet breaks the bank and shoots out the flight which let the French celebrate on the finish line. On the Cote du Val d’Enfer the Frenchman resists in the lead whereas in the group several riders attack and form the group that struggled to take the second place on the finish line in Valence.
Classic de l’Ardèche 2018 Results
1 BARDET Romain AG2R La Mondiale
2 SCHACHMANN Maximilian Quick-Step Floors
3 CALMEJANE Lilian Direct Energie
4 VUILLERMOZ Alexis AG2R La Mondiale
5 GAUDU David FDJ
6 NARVAEZ Jhonatan Quick-Step Floors
7 PACHER Quentin Vital Concept Cycling Club
8 LATOUR Pierre AG2R La Mondiale
9 LIETAER Eliot WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
10 SICARD Romain Direct Energie