Tour de l’Ain stage 1: Jake Stewart wins opening stage in reduced bunch sprint

The victory is the first pro win for the 22-year-old British rider, who also takes the leader's jersey.

Photo: Getty Images

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Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) won the opening stage of the Tour de l’Ain in a wild finale Tuesday.

Remí Cavagna (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) jumped under the “red kite” but was caught with 150m to go by the chasing bunch.

The victory is the first pro win for the 22-year-old British rider, who also takes the overall leader’s jersey in the three-day stage race.

“Everyone supported me since I was junior and sacrificed for me to be here,” Stewart said. “It feels like a huge weight off my shoulders to finally get the win. We’ve been saying that the first stage was perfect for me. Everyone did their work today, we never gave up, and I am so thankful for everyone from the team and the guys today.

“It’s emotional to win this first victory,” he said. “It’s amazing for me.”

The 152km lumpy first stage from Châtillon-Sur-Chalaronne to Val-Revermont was animated from the start. Breaks formed and were reeled in going into a pair of two fourth-category climbs. Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-EasyPay) tried to peel away, but didn’t find any collaborators.

Small groups forged off the front, but the bunch never gave them much rope.

With 12km to go, a group of eight riders had a small gap on the chasing peloton with about 20 seconds that was quickly snuffed to set up a reduced bunch sprint.

The three-stage race in France attracted such riders as Julian Alaphilippe, Guillaume Martin, and George Bennett.

The 2022 Tour de l’Ain continues Wednesday with the 144km second stage Saint-Vulbas to Lagnieu. The mountainous course includes two first-category climbs and two second-category summits, ending with a fast downhill run to the finish line.

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