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Danilo Wyss showing his strong sprint in France (foto by AbbiOrca.com)
Danilo Wyss showing his strong sprint in France (foto by AbbiOrca.com)

Danilo Wyss sprints to 5th place at Tour de l'Ain

9. agosto 2009

St. Denis les Bourg

The hilly Tour de l'Ain kicked off Sunday with a meandering stage from Bourg-en-Bresse to St. Denis les Bourg. 

As perhaps the only chance the pure sprinters in the peloton would have to score a victory in the four day race, the likelihood of a breakaway succeeding seemed slight.  But by the end of the day, a break of three riders gained enough time that they managed to fight for the stage among themselves.  Cofidis' Mickaël Buffaz took the stage while BMC's Danilo Wyss grabbed second place in the bunch sprint to the line fifty seconds later. 

Nearly according to plan 

"The day almost went exactly as we expected," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue explained.  "Normally the day would have ended in a bunch sprint, and we were planning on launching Danilo Wyss for that while at the same time protecting Mathias Frank and Thomas Frei for the GC."  Though several teams have brought a number of strong sprinters to the race, the fact that each team has fielded only six riders perhaps plays more into the hands of the motivated escape groups.  "A little break of three riders was able to stay away to the finish, which wasn't exactly the plan," Lelangue said.  "But we were still able to set up Danilo so he took second in the bunch sprint for fourth place."  In another mishap which was not counted on, BMC's Markus Zberg crashed with 35 kilometers remaining and was forced to drop out of the event.  "Markus crashed badly and though there is no permanent damage, he had a large contusion on his hip making it impossible for him to continue," Lelangue said.  "It's really too bad for him and it meant that he wasn't there to help Danilo at the end of the stage, but Martin Kohler stepped up to do a great job leading Danilo out."

Today's time loss is insignificant

"With time bonuses added in, the leaders probably have around a minute on the rest of the peloton," Lelangue estimated.  "But that time gap is no big deal compared to the sort of gaps which will result from the type of terrain the race will cover in the next stages."  Monday's stage from Trevoux to Oyonnax will again cover rolling countryside, but ends with a stiff little climb.  "Tomorrow's stage has a climb about 4 kilometers from the finish, so there could be a chance for a slight separation in the peloton there," Lelangue said.  "We will have to be careful to keep Mathias and Thomas protected through tomorrow's stage and until the time trial Tuesday afternoon so that they can have a chance to finish well on the GC."  Though the day ends with the climb, the chance of a sprint finish is not entirely ruled out.  "We will also keep Danilo and Martin well placed to finish off the sprint if it should come to that," Lelangue said.