Joe Blackmore boosted his hopes of claiming his third GC victory of 2024 by taking a battling second place on stage 3 of Circuit des Ardennes on Saturday.

The British rider, who has already won the Tours of Rwanda and Taiwan this year, lit up the penultimate stage of the four-day French race with a long-range attack en route to the finish in Aiglemont.

Although his assertive move did not result in him claiming the victory, Blackmore finished second on the uphill finish to move up to the same position on GC. He sits seven seconds behind leader Mathias Bregnhøj going into Sunday’s final stage, which is only two seconds greater than his deficit going into the last stage in Taiwan, which he successfully overturned.

“We had a plan to make the race hard as this was the stage to form GC properly,” he says. “The race was split up from around halfway through and with 35 kilometers to go I attacked over the top of a climb and tried to go solo.

“I was alone for 10 kilometers or so before three riders bridged to me. We worked together but another group came back in the final six kilometers. One rider went solo and won the stage, but I sat in the group and sprinted to second, which also earned me some more bonus seconds. I’m super happy to give it a good go and then finish second.”

IPT Academy Manager Tim Elverson adds: “We had a plan to put the yellow jersey under pressure from range and we did this. Pier-André Côté stayed with the race leader, while Joe gave it a go solo. He got caught by a small group but then came in second after one slipped away while the GC guys marked each other. We gave it a really good go and came up one short, but I love the effort.”