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French rider Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Schuller) won a bunch sprint Friday to open the three-day Route du Sud in the 211km stage from Carmaux to Saint-Gaudens.
Following scores of early attacks, Remi Cusin (Cofidis) went on a solo flier only to be reeled in with 70km to go. The bunch came in for a mass sprint with Vachon taking the photo-finish.
Crossing the line second was Gianni Meersman (FDJeux) with Angel Vicioso (Andalucía-CajaSur) taking third. Last year’s winner, Przemyslaw Niemec (Miche) finished safely in the bunch, along with pre-race favorites Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues) and David Moncoutie (Cofidis).
The race continues Saturday with a split stage. The morning sector an 83km run from Izaourt to Saint-Gaudens followed by an afternoon, 16.2km individual climbing time trial from Loudenvielle to Peyragudes.