Leigh Howard sprinted to eighth on the morning stage of the Tour de Poitou Charentres double day. With Aidis Kruopis in the race lead, ORICA-GreenEDGE demonstrated a calm control from kilometer zero on the short, fast stage between Pleumartin and La Roche Posay.
“The stage was only 100 kilometers, and short stages are always full gas from the gun,” explained Luke Durbridge. “We covered 100 kilometers in 2:14, so it was a really quick race.”
Tomas Vaitkus, Christian Meier and Fumiyuki Beppu patrolled the front of the field, keeping a three-rider break on a short leash to ensure a mass finish.
“They worked hard and controlled from start to finish,” said Durbridge. “The team allowed me to conserve in the bunch, and they looked after me to make sure I was safe. I’m targeting the time trial this afternoon, and it’s important that I saved my legs as much as I could.”
The peloton roared toward the finish as a single unit. Having led out Kruopis for the first two sprints, ORICA-GreenEDGE elected to give Leigh Howard a chance today.
“We worked for Leigh in the sprint, but we got a bit lost in the end,” Durbridge said. “The finish was a bit hectic, and we were swarmed. He had to make his own way at the very end.”
The mass finish ensured that Kruopis retained the white leader’s jersey ahead of the afternoon time trial. While Kruopis is unlikely to keep the jersey after the race against the clock, the team hopes to pass it along to Durbridge, who has won three individual time trials and a team time trial already this season.