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Ineos and Jumbo exchange fire at Tour de l'Ain

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Ceyzériat (France) (AFP)

British outfit Ineos and Dutch rivals Jumbo-Visma clashed for the first time this year on the finale of stage one of the Tour de l'Ain on Friday as Tour de France winner Egan Bernal matched Primoz Roglic's series of attacks.

The stage in eastern France was snatched at the line by Andrea Bagioli of Deceuninck ahead of Roglic, who made a blunder to allow the Italian to win.

Bagioli is a teammate of Fabio Jakobsen, who came out of a medically-induced coma Friday after a horrific crash in the Tour of Poland two days previously.

In a season shorn of its gradual warm-up because of the disruption caused by coronavirus, Ineos and Jumbo are both taking three leaders to the Tour de France, which has been delayed until August 29, and on Friday their first meeting was fierce.

Bernal, plus the last twoTour winners Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome, all started for Ineos.

But Roglic, backed up by former Giro and world champion Tom Dumoulin and the 2019 Tour de France third-place finisher Steven Kruijswijk, appeared just as strong.

Roglic, a former ski-jump champion, took the fight to Ineos trying to drop them first on a climb, then from the front of the peloton over the final five kilometres, but Bernal reeled him in every time.

Over the final section Dumoulin led Roglic out before a slip of concentration from the Slovenian allowed the victory to slip.

The next two stages both feature summit finishes and promise to make enthralling watching as the two giants of cycling size each other up with the Tour looming.

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