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"For now, I'm 8th overall. It would be nice if I can keep myself in the top 10. We could still see echelons. In the climbs, I have to follow but I can't do anything else."





09.02.2015 @ 21:18 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

For Cofidis, the season started 2 weeks ago. Some of the riders were in the south of France to compete in the Etoile de Bessèges, a 5-day stage race with a decisive final time trial.


Before the race, the opening GP La Marseillaise saw Kenneth Vanbilsen, last year's winner, take second place, narrowly defeated by Pim Lightart.


The first stage took the riders from Bellegarde to Beaucaire and was certainly the busiest of the week because of the cold and a strong wind that caused many echelons. The Cofidis riders were present at the forefront, 6 of them in the right group (Loic Chetout, Christophe Laporte, Gert Joeäär, Anthony Turgis, Kenneth Vanbilsen and Michael Van Staeyen).



13 riders ended up in the lead, with Loic Chetout finally taking 9th on the stage that was won by Belgian Kris Boeckmans. That put him in agood overall position.


The next stage, between Nimes and Les Fumades, everything was decided in a sprint that was marred by a big crash. In the confusion, Kenneth Vanbilsen took 11th in a stage won by Belgian Roy Jans.


It was again a bunch sprint that decided the 3rd stage and this time it was a clear sprint without any crashes. Bryan Coquard took the win while Christophe Laporte finished 15th. For his part, Loic Chetout, fully recovered from his crash at the Challenge Mallorca, continued to stay near the front and confirmed the good start to his first pro season.


"Initially, I was not planning to do the Etoile de Bessèges. I replaced Julien Simon who suffered from chickenpox. The team asked me to take his place. I crashed in Mallorca and I crashed again last Thursday. I am suffering from a sprained wrist. So, I take fewer risks. I'm not crazy, I do not get involved in the sprints. I prefer to play it safe. For now, I'm 8th overall. It would be nice if I can keep myself in the top 10. We could still see echelons. In the climbs, I have to follow but I can't do anything else," he said.



On the 4th stage, the favourites had the chance to make a difference on the Mur du Laudun. However, this penultimate stage also ended with a bunch sprint but not for the pure sprinters. Tony Gallopin proved the stronger, beating Christophe Laporte who is in good condition from the start of the season.


"I'm a little disappointed to finish second but it's still Tony Gallopin who won. He was the strongest. We agreed at the briefing that the team was going to help me today. The finish suited me fine. Kenneth Vanbilsen positioned me perfectly before the last corner, which is the beginning of the climb, 300 meters from the line. I appreciate this kind of climb. I felt good last Sunday at the Grand Prix La Marseillaise. I launched the sprint for Kenneth, who finished second. I have a good feeling about Etoile de Bessèges. 


"I want to win a race and help the team. In two weeks, the Tour du Haut Var is my home race. It may be a little too hard for me so I will try to help Julien Simon. This second place is motivating for the future."


Finally, it was a 12km time trial through the streets of Ales which was to decide the fate of this race. Initially, 3 riders could claim a good final result: Loic Chetout, Gert Jõeäär and Christophe Laporte.


But on a demanding course with a final climb, it was ultimately Rudy Molard who did best, taking 21st place, ahead of Laporte in 26th and Joeaar in 30th. With this result, Laporte finished 16th overall, Joeaar 20th. Chetout in 24th also looked promising ahead of the next races.



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