Romain Grégoire (Groupama-FDJ) won stage 1 of the Tour du Limousin-Périgord with a solo attack on the final climb with less than 18km to go.
From a chase group of three riders, Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroën Team) secured second place, while Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ) outsprinted Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) for third.
The 20-year-old French rider scored his second stage win of the year, using a victory on stage 2 of 4 Jours de Dunkerque to secure the GC at that spring 2.Pro contest.
The 165.7km opening stage of the four-day race had four intermediate sprints sprinkled between a pair of catergorised climbs, then provided a third KOM, 4.7km Côte de Saint Goussaud (4.7% average gradient) as a launchpad 16km from the finish line in Bénévent L’Abbaye.
After a few early attacks were unsuccessful in the first 27km, five riders joined forces at the front to gain separation from the peloton – Tom Mainguenaud (Van Rysel-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Oliver Mattheis (Bike Aid), Andrea Pietrobon (Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team), Jean-Louis Le Ny (Nice Métropole Côte d ‘Azure) and Samuele Zoccarato (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizané). They stretched their lead to more than 4 minutes.
With 100km to race, a quartet held together at the front as Zoccarato suffered a mechanical and waited to rejoin the peloton. The gap for the break had been cut in half as they reached the mid-point of the race, which marked the final circuit. Groupama-FDJ, AG2R Citroën Team and Arkéa-Samsic showed the most interest at the front of the peloton in the chase.
With under 27km to go, a duo from TotalEnergies, Paul Ourselin and Geoffrey Soupe, launched an attack, while just behind, a splint in the peloton formed when four riders crashed on some gravel strewn across the narrow country road. The effort by the TotalEnergies pair fizzled, and a regrouped peloton looked to close down the lead quartet on the Côte des Beiges with less than 20 seconds for the catch and 28km to go.
Pietrobon was the final escapee to survive but only made it to the base of the final climb. Storer then set the pace at the front of the race on Côte de Saint Goussaud, that move countered by his teammate Grégoire. A whittled-down group of 25 riders was all that remained of the peloton to go into chase mode for the final 16km.
Grégoire’s advantage hovered around 20 seconds as he went into time trial mode, then grew to 25 seconds in the final 5km. Three riders chased – Cosnefroyand Rota setting the…