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Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R La Mondiale) used a last-ditch attack to seize the victory on Sunday in the Drome Classic.
Dumoulin took his first win in nearly two years by just four seconds over Fabio Felline (Trek Factory Racing), with Sébastien Delfosse (Wallonia-Brussels) third at seven seconds.
The 200km race around Livron was marked by a four-man break that included Danny Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare), Grégoire Tarride (Team Marseille 13 KTM), Axel Domont (AG2R) and Bert-Jan Lindeman (Lotto NL-Jumbo).
The escapees took some four minutes on the peloton, led by FDJ.
Once they had been retrieved, 2014 winner Romain Bardet (AG2R) and Trek teammates Bauke Mollema and Riccardo Zoidl had a go some 15km from the finish.
Bardet had another dig on the descent before being joined by Peter Stetina (BMC Racing Team) and Mollema. Cyril Gautier (Europcar) and Yann Guyot (Equipe Cycliste de l’Armee de Terre) joined up as well.
It seemed that the quintet would battle for glory at the end. Then the 34-year-old Dumoulin — who had not won a race since taking the GP de Plumelec-Morhiban in May 2013 — made his move on the final climb, seizing the victory in the final few hundred meters.
“This morning, Jean-Christophe Péraud told me I was the best chance for the team. Honestly, I didn’t believe him,” said Dumoulin. “The team did a great job. In the last climb, Romain did everything to help me.
“I love this kind of situation, to be under pressure to finish the job. I haven’t won in two years and sometimes, it was difficult. … I worked hard this winter. Last week, I wasn’t at the top in Tour du Haut Var but I didn’t lose confidence.”
Stetina crossed fifth on the day, nine seconds down. He said via Twitter afterward that his finish was “done the hard way.”
“Jump from attack to attack in last 20k. Happy kuz day’s goal was to get fresh gloves in freezing rain earlier.”