The Savoyard team, faithful to the Rhone–Alpes Isere Tour (now Alpes Isere Tour), had paradoxically only experienced the joys and victory once. 2017 was the year Benoit Connefroy won stage 2. Loic Varnet (the sports director at the Savoyard training centre) says that he was world champion Espoirs just a few months prior. Michel Baup, race director, congratulated Valentin Retailleau, who took the podium.
This stage, which is 171.4 kilometers long and the longest in this edition, was won by the French Espoirs champion. It did not end with a breakaway like Cosnefroy's model. However, it was completed with mastery in the phase finale. Valentin, 22 years old, stated that "it was going to be hard, with the wind in the start of the race, and the pass (Mont du Faz (1st category) at the middle". The team did a great job getting me to the pass. We decided to head downhill. We found ourselves four ahead, so we could play strategically. I knew that I had the speed to win the final. Mateo (Allard), tried, but I finally settled in a sprint. It's a fantastic team race that gives you great satisfaction.
He placed himself in 2nd place in the last corner and then squirted to surprise De Vries. This was a way he showed the potential of De Vries, who had won in a class 2 in 2021 (in the Tour de Bretagne), a stage 3rd overall. It also confirmed his promise this year: 3rd on the Tour du Loir-et-Cher, and 3rd at Ghent-Wevelgem in a U23 World cup.
Retailleau is also quite mental because on Thursday, during the stage between Les Abrets and Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, he had been hit by bad luck. Loic Varnet relates that he had been planning for Retailleau to attack the Epallud (last hurdle) but he got a puncture right at the spot where he was supposed to attack. He was in good position because the whole team had put in the effort. It was really unfortunate.
Retailleau, Oradour-sur-Glane is not a martyr. He had tried his luck on Friday, but without success. He played the card patience on Saturday and was rewarded. And Sunday? It's a beautiful stage and it arrives in Chambery, not far from where I live. Our climbers, Mateo Allard and Jos Chaussinand, will be in the best possible positions.
The Limousin Retailleau was not content before becoming a professional with AG2R Citroen Team on August 1st.