Race report

Climbers do battle on La Planche des Belles Filles

Tour Alsace

The Tour Alsace headed for the climbs today with a tricky 143 kilometre long route and a finish atop the famous Le Planche des Belles Filles. It was a fast start to the stage with multiple attacks in the opening stages before a breakaway of four riders escaped, building up a lead of just over seven minutes.

Back in the peloton the team worked well together, riding as a unit, as the kilometres ticked by and the gap diminished. Out front the breakaway put up a good fight but they were ultimately caught as the race charged towards the last ascent. Unfortunately, there were two separate crashes in the bunch which saw Pavel Bittner and Hannes Wilksch involved for the team, but both were able to get back on their bike and finish the stage okay.

On the final ascent, after some good good positioning work by the team, the pace slowly ramped up as riders dropped out of the group. Leon Heinschke did well to stay with the ever reducing front group for as long as possible, before he had to let go of the wheels inside the last kilometre, crossing the line for a very respectable 16th place finish.

“It was the first climbing stage of the race and the opening mountain top finish,” explained Heinschke at the end of the stage. “We had the plan to save the rest of the guys towards the last climb, to keep me and Hannes protected. The guys did a really good job at protecting me and Hannes; they always kept us out of the wind and in a good positon. Unfortunately, Pavel crashed at one point towards the final climb, and Hannes had a small crash too, and it took quite a bit of energy for them to come back. Tobias and the guys left in the bunch positioned me really well, with Hannes coming back too. It was then just about the legs and who could follow and stay the longest in the front group. I tried to stay in the group and Groupama set a strong pace, and the back door opened on the climb, with guys slowly dropping out of the group. I gave it my all to the finish to get as good a result as possible for the guys.”

Team DSM coach Roy Curvers continued: “It was a hard stage, where unfortunately we had to deal with two crashes in the final 25 kilometres, of Pavel and Hannes. Thankfully, both were able to continue but that hampered us in the final a bit. On the final climb the legs decided the day. Leon was able to hang on with the lead group into the last kilometre, but he isn’t a pure climber compared to some of the guys here so in the final 300 metres where the gradient was at 20 percent, he had to let go of the wheels of the lightweight climbers. Overall, I think we can be satisfied with how the guys cooperated during the day and how Leon and Hannes fought for it until the line.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 UMBA Santiago Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec 3:47:36 7
2 HUBY Antoine Cross Team Legendre ,, 3
3 REICHENBACH Sébastien Equipe continentale Groupama-FDJ ,, 1