Koch was one of the first to attack from the peloton in the opening kilometers of the day and at first, pushed on solo before being joined by two other riders and opening up an advantage that reached a maximum of nine minutes alongside them.
The group’s advantage started to fall as the peloton started to pick up the pace on the Cote de Mazaugues, the third of four categorized climbs, but the trio continued to work hard and was determined to stretch out their time at the front of the race for as long as possible.
With 35 kilometers, of the 174.9-kilometer course, remaining, Koch and his fellow breakaway companions were maintaining a two-minute lead over the chasing pack but, despite Koch’s best efforts on the Côte du Brûlat, which saw once again battling on his own against the bunch, he was caught just after taking maximum KOM points and control of the King of the Mountains Classification.
A fast run into the bottom of the 3.4-kilometer kick up to the finish line, which had an average gradient of eight percent, saw the peloton stretched out in one long line and eventually the fast pace being set and the tough slopes up to La Ciotat took their toll on the bunch with riders quickly dropping off the back.
In the end, a late move from Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana Pro Team) proved to be victorious after he was able to pull away from a group of around 30 riders which included CCC Team’s Attila Valter and Fausto Masnada, who eventually finished in 19th and 21st place with time gaps comparable to the rest of the chasers.
Koch also took home the day’s combativity prize with the race organizers recognizing his hard work and determination throughout the day.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“Our goal was to be in the breakaway today and finally, after a really active start, I made it. It was a little bit disappointing that there were only three of us in the front group as I think a bigger group would have had more of a chance. We worked hard but the wind didn’t make the day any easier for us and during the headwind section, we lost a lot of time. During the race, I managed to take points for the KOM classification and on the final categorized climb, I made it to the top just in time before the peloton caught me. I am happy to have taken this jersey at the end of the day and I am looking forward to supporting our GC guys and climbers on tomorrow’s stage.”
Sports Director, Gabriele Missaglia:
“Once again the guys stuck to our race plan and we had Jonas Koch in the breakaway. He did a really great job and was definitely the strongest rider in the breakaway, moving into the King of the Mountain jersey and also winning the day’s combativity prize.”
“Jonas’ group was able to build up an advantage of more than nine minutes at one stage but then other teams starting to pull hard behind and unfortunately, with just three riders in front, it was hard to stay away against a chasing peloton.”
“In the final, we still have two riders in the first group, Fausto Masnada and Attila Valter, and I think for us that was good. Fausto showed he had good legs, making some moves when the attacks started after Jonas was caught and so overall I am feeling good thinking ahead to tomorrow’s stage to Mont Ventoux.”
Tour de la Provence
Stage 2: Aubagne > La Ciotat (174.9k)
Top 3: 1. Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana Pro Team) 2. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) 3. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team)
CCC Team Top 3: 19. Attila Valter 21. Fausto Masnada 52. Michał Paluta