Jake Stewart claimed his first win as a professional as the rising British star sprinted to victory at the opening stage of the 2022 Tour de l'Ain.
The 22-year-old has produced a series of impressive performances since stepping up to the World Tour at the end of 2020, but a senior victory had thus far eluded him.
It appeared that Stewart may again be disappointed as the peloton approached the finish in Val-Revermont as Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl's Remi Cavagna burst away from the bunch in trademark style inside the final kilometre.
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But the Frenchman was reeled in, allowing Stewart to produce a timely last kick to deny Romain Cardis (St Michel-Auber93) and take stage victory.
It proved an emotional moment for the young sprinter, who relocated to France in late 2018 to chase his dreams on the road after a promising junior career on the track.
"Everyone has sacrificed so much for me to be here," Stewart said after securing the leader's gold jersey at the three-stage race in eastern France.
"Just to finally get the win - I've been chasing it for so long.
'A massive weight off my shoulders'- Emotional Stewart reacts to Tour de l'Ain Stage 1 win
"It just feels like a massive weight off my shoulders. It's emotional. I never expected to be here this week with legs like this."
The three-day race in the Jura Mountains has again attracted a strong field, with Julian Alaphilippe and Guillaume Martin perhaps the leading home hopes.
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Two lumpier stages to come meant the opening stage was likely the only chance for a small group of fast-men in the field, though.
A 152km stage from Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne provided two categorised climbing tests inside the final kilometres, with a strong three-man breakaway group of Tim Wellens, Stefan Bissegger and Mattis Lebeau kept in check by a well-organised peloton.
As the trio appeared set to be caught, Bissegger launched a solo move, triggering a chaotic final twenty kilometres with the bunch strung out.
Groupama-FDJ appeared in control throughout, though, keeping Stewart well-placed despite losing lead-out man Fabian Lienhard to a puncture.
The most dangerous move came from Cavagna after a canny feint from Alaphilippe at the front of the peloton, but the powerful Frenchman was caught inside the final 500 metres.
And Stewart was able to surge beyond Cardis to triumph, and the 22-year-old was full of praise for his team mates for their work in setting up a maiden senior win.
"My team did an amazing job," Stewart explained. "We came here with a plan and we have been saying for so long that the first stage of the Tour de l'Ain was perfect for me.
"Everyone did their job today, everyone did their work. I am just so thankful to everyone from the team and the guys today.
"[Quick-Step] knew they didn't have much of a chance in the sprint so they tried to go long. It was looking dangerous, but I know my characteristics, I know I can go long in the sprint, so I wasn't afraid of this. In the end I got there on the line."
Stage Two begins in Saint-Vulbas and ends in Lagnieu, with two category one and two category two climbs.
The last of these, the Col de Portes, peaks 20 kilometres from the finish, with two distinct ten kilometre descending sections likely to prove decisive.
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