Irish U23 champion Eddie Dunbar (Axeon Hagens Berman) has gotten off to a promising start at the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc (2.2) which started today as he finished in a small group of riders just 33″ behind stage winner Alexis Guerin (GSC Blagnac Vélo Sport 31).
The opening 145-kilometre stage of the race, based in the French Alps took the riders from St Michel de Maurienne to Cruseilles and included three categorised climbs including the Col du Marais.
Guerin had been a member of a group which had broken clear after 32 kilometres. The group also contained former World Tour riders Chris Anker Sorensen and Brice Feillu of Fortuneo-Vital Concept and Julien Antomarchi (Roubaix Lille Métropole) amongst others.
At the 85-kilometre mark, Guerin went clear alone and was later caught by Lennard Hofstede (Rabobank Development Team) and Jhonathan Narvaez (Klein Constantia). These three riders stayed clear until the end with Guerin taking the win ahead of Hofstede and Narvaez.
The race splintered behind with groups all over the road. Dunbar was in the next group to finish which also contained his team-mates Tao Geoghegan Hart and Adrien Costa. The Irish rider finished in 19th place on the stage.
The race continues tomorrow with a 118-kilometre stage from Barby to Les Déserts which includes the summit finish to La Féclaz.
There has been Irish success at the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc in the past with Dan Martin taking the overall win back in 2006 when riding for Vélo-Club La Pomme Marseille.
Other World Tour riders who have tasted success at the race include Guillaume Bonnafond, Blaise Sonnery and Ben Gastauer.