Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) took victory in dominant fashion up on the lunar landscape of Mont Ventoux with a very impressive ride from Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) in second place and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) in third, at the 2020 edition of the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge 2020.
After an excellent display in the Route d’Occitanie a week before this race, where he finished only behind two Ineos riders of Egan Bernal and Pavel Sivakov, he was one of the big favourites to take the day and he did just that.
The peloton caught the last of the break just as they started the final ascent which saw multiple attacks from riders, with some sticking for a long period, but it was the Russian champion, Vlasov, who set off on a stinging move to bridge the gap and then kick on to victory.
Behind, big names who were out of form battled for the minor places, with Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Miguel Ángel López (Astana) and Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) battling it out.
How it happened
The riders started in Vaison-la-Romaine and after 179km they finish at the top of Mont Ventoux, but it is not the usual ascent, they ride up a different side that takes us up to Chalet Reynard but from another angle.
The original break was made up of eight riders including Lewis Askey (Groupama-FDJ), Carmelo Urbano (Caja Rural), Jose Gonçalves (Nippo Delko One Provence), Juan Felipe Osorio (Burgos-BH), Alessandro Monaco (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane), Garikoitz Bravo (Fundacion Ciclista Euskadi), Marlon Gaillard (Total Direct Energie) and Robert Scott (Canyon DHB p/b Soreen).
The break broke down over the first passage up to Chalet Reynard with Bravo going solo, but his time gap was being edged away as the kilometres ticked down thanks to Astana, Arkéa-Samsic and Cofidis as they got closer to the mountain.
Bravo had just 30 seconds at the base of the final climb as the race was very nicely set up for possible early attacks, with the lone leader caught with 17km to go.
Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural) and Simone Petilli (Circus-Wanty Gobert) set off on the attack with 15km to go and pulled out a decent gap early on but was controlled by the peloton. The Caja Rural rider then went pop and dropped back to the group with Petilli still out in front, but it wasn’t long before he was also brought back and dropped.
Edward Ravasi (UAE Team Emirates) was the next man to kick out with Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) trying to follow and he slowly bridged over with 10km to go. Ravasi was there to support Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) but the Italian was dropped by Latour.
One of the biggest surprises was that López was dropped out of the back, he did make it back but Astana were fully focused on Russian champion, Vlasov instead as Trek took over pacing with 8km to go.
At 7km to go, Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) took off with a vicious acceleration, looking very impressive as he looked to bridge the now 12-second gap to Latour, which he did with ease.
Behind, Aru tried a move with Harold Tejada (Astana) going with him but Trek continued setting the pace for Richie Porte and they were brought back with 6.5km to go.
Martin hit Latour with attack after attack which pushed the AG2R rider to his limit and was dropped by his compatriot. He pulled out gap of 20 seconds and looked very cool and collected as he continued on up the mountain.
With 4.5km to go, Astana’s main man, Vlasov attacked and sailed straight across to a struggling Latour. Behind, Porte and Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) pushed across as Vlasov dropped Latour who was now going backwards.
But then, Porte dropped the pre-race favourite, Quintana, who is still recovering from being hit by a car in Colombia.
Vlasov breezed up to Martin and went straight past the Frenchman but then they started looking at each other, which almost allowed Porte back up to them before Vlasov attacked again. Martin managed to hold on for a few more moments but then lost touch with 3km to go.
It was the young Russian who eventually took victory on Ventoux as he held off Porte in the final kilometres. It was a very impressive ride with Porte finishing 18-seconds down in second and Martin making it to third.
Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge 2020: Vaison-la-Romaine to Mont Ventoux (179km)
1. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana, in 4-56-39
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo, at 18s
3. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at 59s
4. Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 1-29
5. Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-38
6. Harold Alfonso Tejada (Col) Astana, at 1-43
7. Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-51
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa-Samsic, at 1-57
9. Jesús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, at 2-15
10. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 2-32