Gavin Mannion unleashed a huge burst of speed in the closing meters of stage 4 at the Tour de Sovoie Mont Blanc, winning the mountaintop finish against a select group of climbers that included two-time Tour de France stage winner and race leader Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels - Vital Concept p/b KTM).
"It felt amazing," said Mannion. "It's never easy to win a bike race, especially one in Europe. I'm happy to finally do it."
Less than 24 hours earlier, the peloton faced an extremely rare double mountain stage day of racing. Following an impressive second-place finish in the morning, Mannion watched his yellow jersey hopes evaporate in the late afternoon, losing over five minutes on his GC rivals.
"It was a really tough stage," said Mannion. "I felt great and then I just totally bonked. I was seeing stars out there and just trying to turn the pedals over. That ruined my GC chances but I stayed positive and wanted to come back and win today's stage."
Team director Patrick McCarty is on the ground in France and has been inspired by the team's return to racing.
"Everyone on the team stepped up and fully commited to this stage win," said McCary. "Gavin has been one of the strongest riders in the race and I'm happy for the guys to get this one after such a long break from racing."
French Trainee Maël Guégan followed closely by Nickolas Zukowsky while they work to preserve Mannion's stage honors.
The Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc has a UCI 2.2 designation which means race radios are not permitted.
"A big thanks goes out to Nate Brown who has been making all of the right calls on the road this week," added McCary. "He's been incredibly strong and instrumental in our success."
The signing of American WorldTour veteran Nate Brown in the offseason is paying dividends.
Saturday's crushing finale features 22.4 km mountain time trial from Aix-es-Bains to Mont Revard. Riders will face over 1,300 meters of climbing as they seek to regain precious seconds in the general classification. Mannion is now only 16 seconds out of a place in the top 10 overall.
Stage 4 Results
1. MANNION Gavin Rally Cycling 3:54:47
2. CEPEDA Jefferson Alexander Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec 0:08
3. ROLLAND Pierre B&B Hotels - Vital Concept p/b KTM 0:12
4. VAN GILS Maxim Lotto - Soudal U23 0:15
5. MONIQUET Sylvain Equipe continentale Groupama - FDJ 0:17
6. GUERIN Alexis Team Vorarlberg Santic 1:03
7. VANDENABEELE Henri Lotto - Soudal U23 1:05
8. MUÑOZ Daniel Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec 1:10
9. MORENO Adrià Velo Club Villegranche Beaujolais 1:18
10. JOALLAND Yael CC Etupes 1:35
General Classification After Stage 2
1. ROLLAND Pierre B&B Hotels - Vital Concept p/b KTM 11:02:55
2. VAN GILS Maxim Lotto - Soudal U23 1:20
3. GUERIN Alexis Team Vorarlberg Santic 2:02
4. MORENO Adrià Velo Club Villegranche Beaujolais 2:46
5. MONIQUET Sylvian Equipe continentale Groupama - FDJ 3:16
6. MUÑOZ Daniel Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec 2:32
7. VERSCHAEVE Viktor Lotto - Soudal U23 3:38
8. CHAMPION Thomas Bourg-en-Bresse Ain Cyclisme 3:47
9. BALFOUR Stuart Bourg-en-Bresse Ain Cyclisme 3:51
10. CEPEDA Jefferson Alexander Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec 5:16
11. BALMER Alandre Equipe continentale Groupama - FDJ 5:26
12. MANNION Gavin Rally Cycling 5:32
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