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Having bridged the gap to a strong breakaway on the final climb, Boaro managed to beat Rolland and Hivert in the sprint to win the queen stage and take the overall lead in the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe

Photo: Tinkoff-Saxo

CIRCUIT CYCLISTE SARTHE

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JONATHAN HIVERT

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MANUEL BOARO

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PIERRE ROLLAND

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09.04.2015 @ 19:37 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Manuele Boaro took the third victory for Tinkoff-Saxo in the 2015 season when he took a surprise victory in the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe queen stage. The Italian showed his strength when he was among the few riders to bridge the gap to a strong breakaway on the final climb of the Mont des Avaloirs before he beat Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Jonathan Hivert (Bretagne) in the sprint at the top to take both the stage win and the overall lead.

 

The 2015 season has been a huge disappointment for the Tinkoff-Saxo team which went into the year with lofty goals and big ambitions. However, very little has worked out as planned as they have come up short in both classics and stage races and went into the month of April with just two victories in the book.

 

While the captains have failed to clock up the victories, however, Manuele Boaro has looked impressively strong all year. Already in the Dubai Tour, he finished in the top 10 in a race that didn’t suit him and at the end of March, he created a big surprise when he finished 10th in the mountainous Criterium International.

 

This made him one to watch for this week’s Circuit Cycliste Sarthe whose short time trial and moderately hilly terrain made it one for the Italian who nearly won the similar Tour of Denmark last year. However, he failed to live up to expectations in yesterday’s race against the clock where he was expected to finish closer to the best.

 

However, Boaro made up for the disappointing fifth place in today’s queen stage when he confirmed his improved climbing by taking the win. Like he did it in the queen stage of last year’s Tour of Denmark, he underlined his strength in hilly terrain by winning an uphill sprint from a select group.

 

The stage finished with 6 passages of the short, steep Mont des Avaloirs, with the finish line being drawn at the top. As they started the final 10.5km lap, a strong 8-rider group with Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Jan Bakelants (Ag2r), Pierrick Fedrigo (Bretagne), Leonardo Duque (Colombia), Tiago Machado (Katusha), Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka) and Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin) had formed and they fought hard to maintain a 30-second advantage.

 

Boaro found himself in the peloton where he got some welcome assistance from race leader Adriano Malori (Movistar) who had hit the panic button. The Italian was doing a massive amount of work to defend his lead but his efforts turned out to be in vain.

 

When they hit the final climb, he was unable to follow Boaro, Jonathan Hivert (Bretagne), Arthur Vichot (FDJ), Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale-Garmin) and Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) when they bridged the gap to the splintering front group. As they made the junction, Meintjes, Kudus, Duque and Howes got distanced and so 9 riders arrived at the top for the sprint. Despite being up against several fast finishers, Boaro proved his strength when he took a surprise win relegating Rolland and Hivert to the minor positions.

 

Malori did well to limit his losses and rolled across the line in the next bigger group 13 seconds later. However, it was not enough for the Italian as Boaro takes the lead with a 3-second advantage over the Movistar rider while Navarduaskas is third, 2 seconds further adrift.

 

He takes that lead into tomorrow’s final stage which is another tricky affair. After a rolling first part with three smaller climbs, the riders reach flat terrain that leads to the 8.5km finishing circuit which they will do six times. It includes a small climb before it descends to a flat finish and this stage has both been won by strong sprinters or from a strong breakaway on the circuit.

 

The queen stage

After the busy second day, Circuit Cycliste Sarthe continued with its queen stage which brought the riders over 190.3km form Angers to Pre-en-Pail. After a mostly flat first part with just a single categorized climb at the midpoint, the riders reached the difficult finale where they climbed to the finish at the top of the Mont des Avaloirs before they did 5 laps of a 10.5km finishing circuit that ended at the top of the short ascent.

 

As it has been the case for the first stages, the riders had beautiful conditions when they headed out from Angers to start their hilly ride. They got the race off to a fast start as Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha) attacked straight from the gun and he spent a bit of time as the lone leader with the peloton in hot pursuit.

 

A quintet is formed

At the 5km mark, Thomas Boudat (Europcar), Benoit Jarrier (Bretagne), Marco Minnaard (Wanty) and Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) managed to bridge the gap but the quintet was only 5 seconds ahead. However, they won the battle and at the 8km mark, they had extended their advantage to 35 seconds.

 

At the 19km mark, the gap was 3 minutes and now Movistar took control. The Spanish team allowed the gap to reach 3.40 before they hit the gas slightly to bring it back to 3.15 at the 37.4km mark.

 

Isaychev wins the sprints

Movistar again slowed down and when Isaychev beat Meintjes and Minnaard in the first intermediate sprint at the 49km mark, the gap was 4.30. Moments later, Minnaard had to work himself back to the front after a puncture.

 

Isaychev led Jarrier and Meintjes across the line in the second sprint and now Movistar had brought the gap down to 3.45. While the Spaniards kept it around that mark, the Russian also won the final intermediate sprint ahead of Minnaard and Meintjes.

 

KOM points for Meintjes

Minnaard had another mechanical but as his companions took a natural break, he was allowed to rejoin the leader who were 4.15 at the 80km mark. Moments later, Meintjes led Isaychev, Jarrier and Minnaard over the top of the first climb where the gap had come down to 3.30.

 

Movistar kept it between 3.30 and 4.15 for a long time but as they approached the finishing circuit, it went out to 4.40. When they hit the circuit and started to climb up the Avaloirs for the first times, it was 4.10 and the peloton was now riding a lot faster.

 

As soon as they started to climb, riders started to get dropped from the peloton while Isaychev was distanced from the front group. When Meintjes led Minnaard, Jarrier and Boudat over the top for the first time, the Russian had been distanced by 1.05 while John Gadret (Movistar) led the peloton across the line 3.45 later.

 

The attacking starts

As the peloton went up the climb for the second time, a lot of damage was done and Sergei Tvetcov (Androni) was one of the main names to lose contact. At the top of the climb, Isaychev had been caught and the gap was only 3 minutes.

 

With 3 laps to go, the escapees were still 2.40 ahead of the splintering peloton and now the attacking started in the peloton Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r) was the first to give it a try and he was joined by Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhuebeka) to form a strong quartet. Jauregui was distanced and instead Jan Bakelants (Ag2r) and Tiago Machado (Katusha) joined the action

 

A strong front group

At the next passage of the line, the four chasers had reduced their deficit to 1.36. Meintjes was first at the top to win the KOM sprint ahead of Jarrier, Boudat, Minnaard, Machado and Kudus

 

Jarrier was now distanced from the front group and fell back to the chasers who were now just 39 seconds behind while the peloton was 35 seconds further adrift. During the next passage of the climb, the chasers caught the leaders and while Jarrier and Boudat fell off, Meintjes managed to keep up. Meanwhile, Pierrick Fedrigo (Bretagne) and Leonardo Duque (Colombia) bridged from the peloton.

 

In the peloton, Malori was now forced to do the work himself and he paid the price when they hit the climb again. While the front group was whittled down to just 4 riders, the Italian was unable to follow Boaro, Hivert, Vichot, Cummings and Navardauskas bridged the gap and in the end it was his compatriot Boaro who took it all.

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