After yesterday’s opening foray into the climbs at the Tour Alsace, the peloton once again headed into the mountains today for the race’s queen stage. Climbing from the flag drop, it was an incredibly hard start to the stage with the peloton racing very aggressively and it became an early race of attrition as the bunch thinned down. Eventually after 70 kilometres of hard action, the elastic snapped and Enzo Leijnse rode strongly to make it into a breakaway of nine.
Leijnse and his breakaway companions worked well together over the climbs, holding onto their advantage which reached a maximum of two minutes, deep into the stage. Heading into the final 15 kilometres, which were mostly uphill, the pace increased yet again in the peloton and the attacks started in the breakaway group. Leijnse dug deep to follow the initial attacks before he had to let go of the wheels.
Dropping back to the now drastically reduced peloton, Leijnse did one last pull to bring Leon Heinschke back into and towards the front of the group. Heinschke then continued to press on the pedals brilliantly, setting off in pursuit of the remnants of the break out front. Picking off riders one-by-one, Heinschke pushed all the way to the finish line, claiming a brilliant second place at the end of the stage; a result that sees him move up to third on GC and into the lead of the best young rider’s jersey.