Iván Sosa fastest on Mont Ventoux's slopes to take lead in Tour de La Provence

An Ineos Grenadiers one-two puts them in pole position to wrap up their first general classification victory of the 2021 season.

(Image credit: Imago/PA Images)

Iván Sosa of Ineos Grenadiers further underlined his potential by racing to victory on the lower slopes of Mont Ventoux on stage three of the Tour de La Provence.

The Colombian broke clear of the leading group of favourites with just less than 5km left to race, and crossed the finish line at the ski resort of Chalet Reynard 15 seconds ahead of his teammate Egan Bernal.

The 23-year-old’s victory also hands him the lead in the four-day race, and with just one stage remaining, his 19 second advantage should be enough to wrap up the fifth GC success of his career.

It was his 12th professional win and his first since triumphing at the Vuelta a Burgos last summer.

Former Tour de France winner Bernal looked in good shape and sits second on GC, with world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) also appearing in sharp form to ride himself into third place on GC.

The Frenchman rolled home just three seconds behind Bernal, despite setting the pace in the final three kilometres in pursuit of Sosa.

How it unfolded

Overnight snow on Mont Ventoux put the Queen stage at risk, but fortunately the snow was cleared in the morning and the day gave way to mostly bright skies but with low cloud hanging around the mid-point of the mythical mountain.

Led by Total Direct Energie’s Jerome Cousin and Damien Gaudin, the two Frenchmen were joined in the five-man break by the Italian pair of Nicola Bagioli (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) and Alessandro Fedeli (Delko), and the Belgian Florian Vermeersch (Lotto-Soudal).

The peloton let the group of five have a small lead of between three and four minutes, with British champion Ben Swift controlling the gap for some period of time for Ineos Grenadiers.

As they began the 14.6km climb to Chalet Reynard, however, their lead had dwindled to barely a minute and soon after only Bagioli and Vermeersch were left.

Astana-Premier Tech and UAE-Team Emirates crowded the front of the peloton as they ticked past the 10km-to-go marker, the former setting up the first attack of note by its Colombian rider Harold Tejada who bridged across to and then passed the sole leader Bagioli.

But Tejada and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Matteo Fabbro were absorbed by the peloton quickly, and Ineos controlled the ascent towards the ski resort.

With 4.7km before the finish line, Sosa jumped out of the peloton. Gurning and stamping on his pedals, he built what would prove to be an insurmountable lead.

His rivals behind him didn’t respond until Alexander Vlasov of Astana attacked a kilometre later, bringing with him first Alaphilippe and then Bernal.

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Aware that his teammate Sosa was heading towards victory, Bernal let Alaphilippe lead the chase, and only when Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) joined the duo was Alaphilippe afforded some protection from the wind.

Sosa continued to march towards the victory, his lead increasing from 16 seconds to 23 seconds. Behind, Bernal jumped out of Alaphilippe’s wheel but it wasn’t until the final 100 metres that he managed to shake the world champion for good.

By then, Sosa had already soloed to his first win of the season and into the overall lead with just one stage to go.

Results

Tour de la Provence 2021, stage three: Istres > Chalet Reynard (153.9km)

1. Ivan Sosa (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, in 4-08-14

2. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, at 15s

3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick Step, at 18s

4. Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain-Victorious, at 29s

5. Jesús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, at 48s

6. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo

7. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo

8. Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick Step

9. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain-Victorious

10. Patrick Konrad (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe, all at the same time

General classification after stage three

1. Ivan Sosa (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, in 13-13-16

2. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, at 19s

3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick Step, at 21s

4. Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain-Victorious, at 39s

5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 57s

6. Patrick Konrad (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 58s

7. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain-Victorious

8. Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick Step

9. Jesús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis

10. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech, all at the same time.