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Bireuc Rolland wins queen stage of the Peace Race to become overall leader

Rolland celebrates stage victory
Rolland celebrates stage victory Profimedia
Frenchman Brieuc Rolland (21) won Saturday's stage of the under 23s Peace Race. He was victorious on the hard climb in the third stage at Dlouhe strane after thrilling drama, beating Belgium's Aaron Dockx and Portugal's Antonio Morgado at the finish. He now dons the yellow jersey of the overall race leader.

"A beautiful, very aggressive finish on Dlouh strane," said Race Director and former pro racer Leopold Konig with respect for the performance of the riders. Did we see the overall winner of the Peace Race at the finish line of this difficult climb? 

"I think Rolland could take the yellow jersey all the way to Jeseník. However, it's up to the French team to control the entire stage tomorrow and not allow another team to attack them. We'll see if they are strong enough," said Konig as he looked forward to Sunday's final stage. 

Saturday's stage of the 2024 Peace Race for cyclists up to 23 years of age headed from Bruntal to Dlouhe strane. Before the peloton set off to cover the first metres, the CEZ Energy Race, for toddlers on balance bikes and child cyclists, took place at the Kouty nad Desnou Ski Resort. 

Competitors under 23 years of age on the third stage had to cover a total of 99 kilometres and climb 2,156 metres. The third leg of the Nations Cup, which also includes the Polish Orlen Grand Prix and the French Tour de l'Avenir, did not involve the leader of the standings. 

Morten Nortoft of Denmark was still leading the standings despite a crash shortly before Friday's finish, but he did not start the third stage due to injury. Storm Ingebrigsten of Norway took the yellow jersey. The red jersey of the best Czech rider in the standings was worn by Tomas Obdrzalek.

From the start of Saturday's stage it was a sharp race, but the peloton destroyed all attempts to breakaway. Only after twenty kilometres did Tim Rex of Belgium manage to build up an interesting gap of twenty seconds ahead of the main field. However, he still had seventy-eight kilometres to go. 

When he cut only four kilometres off this he was caught by Wessel Mouris of the Netherlands.

Together, working hard at the front, they built a lead that at one point was as much as one minute and forty-five seconds. However, the peloton rode knowing that there are two KOMs to the finish, including the final climb up the Dlouhe strane, which gave the breakaway little hope. 

Indeed, on the run-up to the final climb, the lead of the breakaway pair was only twenty seconds. Sixteen hundred metres were all it took for the peloton to swallow up the Mouris-Rex pair, with the frantic pace of the young riders soon taking its toll in the form of the breakaways.

Frenchman Paul Magnier, winner of the second stage, was among the first. Storm Ingebrigsten of Norway, riding in the yellow jersey of the race leader, soon dropped out.

With three kilometres to go, there was only a group of twenty-five cyclists at the front. The rest of the starting field resembled beads fragmented into larger or smaller groups flocking to the top of Dlouha strane.

Two hundred meters later, even Tim Rex, riding in the polka dot jersey of the best climber of the race, could not keep up the pace.

The peloton was stealing metre after metre of the hard climb. With 2,500 metres to go, Frenchman Loo Bisiaux, who is on the roster of the Decathlon AG2R LaMondiale development team, worked his way into a slight lead.

After a few hundred metres of solo riding, Bisiaux began to be chased by a group of five rivals including compatriot Brieuc Rolland, Portugal's Antonio Morgado, Belgium's Aaron Dockx, Denmark's Simon Dalby and Wouter Toussaint of the Netherlands. 

Leo Bissiaux eventually couldn't resist the pressure of his pursuers and the group swept across just before the finish. In the end, his compatriot Brieuc Rolland triumphed. 

The second man in the overall standings of the recent Orlen Nations Grand Prix made a crucial step to make this year's great season even better.

The 2024 U23 Peace Race started on Thursday 30th May in Krnov and there are a total of four stages, the winner will be crowned on Sunday 2nd June in Jesenik.

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