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Coquard makes the selection on a very tough course in the Paris-Camembert, uses his teammates keeps things together for a 28-rider sprint and beats Dumoulin and Pichon in the final dash to the line

Photo: Sirotti

BRYAN COQUARD

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DIRECT ENERGIE

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LAURENT PICHON

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PARIS-CAMEMBERT

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SAMUEL DUMOULIN

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15.04.2014 @ 17:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Less than two weeks after winning the previous round of the Coupe de France, Route Adelie Vitré, Bryan Coquard (Europcar) added another victory in the season-long series to his palmares when he won today's hilly one-day race Paris-Camembert. On an even tougher course than in the past editions, the Frenchman made the 28-rider selection that ended up sprinting for the win, and held off Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r) and Laurent Pichon (FDJ) in the final dash to the line.

 

Bryan Coquard got his season off to an excellent start when he won two stages of the Etoile de Besseges in early February but then started to struggle a bit. After failing to feature prominently in his first big goal of the season, Paris-Nice, however, he has now started to get the ball rolling again.

 

Coquard may be mostly known as a sprinter but the tiny Frenchman is actually a very versatile rider who overcomes even rather tough climbs. He put that ability to good use less than two weeks ago when he won the hilly one-day race Route Adelie Vitre and today he again put his skills on show when he won the even harder race, Paris-Camembert.

 

The race has always been known as a tough affair than has been great preparation for the Ardennes classics but this year the difficulty had been given a further notch with the addition of a few extra climbs in the finale. This made for exciting and uncontrollable race with constant attacks and ever-changing race situations.

 

In the finale, the most dangerous move was launched by Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne) who took off with Laurent Pichon 20km from the finish. Fresh off from a 5th place at the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, he dropped his companions and soloed towards the finish.

 

Under the impetus of overall Coupe de France leader Julien Simon's Cofidis team, Delaplace was brought back with 9km to go. The attacking continued on the final climb but after the top, a 28-rider front group emerged.

 

Several riders tried to escape in the hectic finale but with Coquard in the group, Europcar was obviously keen on a sprint finish. The French team took control in the finale and made sure that it all came back together for a final dash to the line.

 

Coquard made use of his excellent sprinting skills to hold off Samuel Dumoulin and Pichon to take his fourth win of the season and his second in a race of the season-long Coupe de France series. The Cofidis team which had played a prominent role throughout the day had to settle for fourth with Romain Hardy.

 

Racing in the Coupe de France continues on Thursday with the sprinter-friendly GP de Denain in a very busy week of one-day racing. Saturday is the day of the hilly Tour de Finistere while the Breton gravel roads will challenge the riders in Sunday's Tro Bro Leon semi-classic.

 

A hilly course

The 75th edition of the traditional French one-day race Paris-Camembert took place on a 210km course from Magnanville to Vimoutiers. The first part of the race was a rather flat affair with no categorized climbs but things got significantly more difficult in the finale. Just before the first passage of the finish line, the riders went up the first climb and then did two laps of a circuit with a category 2 and category 3 climb. The decision was set to be made on the final difficult 30km circuit that included no less than four category 1 climbs, the final one summiting just 7.5km from the line. From there it was mostly a downhill run to the finish until the final short 200m hill to the finish.

 

The race took off with two non-starters as the Rietumu-Delfin riders Andzs Flaksis and Andris Vosekalns never made it two the start. As is usually the case in Coupe de France races, the opening part of the race was very fast as several riders tried to join the early move.

 

First attacks unsuccessful

Roubaix Lille Metropole and Bretagne were particularly active in the first phase but the first rider to get a significant gap was Christian Helmig (Differdange). He was quickly absorbed though, opening the door for Josh Perrett (Raleigh) and Romain Pillon (Roubaix) to take off.

 

The duo had no success either and after 10km of racing, 3 riders took off. A few more joined from behind to make it a five-rider group consisting of Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen), Alexandre Blain (Raleigh), Franck Vermeulen (Roubaix), Paolo Ciavatta (Aero Zero) and Alo Jakin (BigMat) that quickly had a 10-second gap.

 

The break is formed

Several riders tried to bridge across while Ciavatta and Rickaert both fell off the pace. They were replaced by Fabio Chinello (Aero Zero) and as the group was still only 8 seconds ahead, Moreno De Pauw (Topsport Vlaanderen) also made it across.

 

The gap went down to only 5 seconds but the quintet never gave up, suddenly opening a bigger gap. After 27km of racing, they were 25 seconds ahead, and now the elastic finally snapped.

 

Sobrino loses time

With the advantage up to 1.15, Joaquin Sobrino (Differdange) took off in pursuit, bringing his deficit down to 40 seconds. While the peloton slowed down and allowed the gap to grow, however, the Spaniard also lost time and never looked like one that would make the junction.

 

After 64km of racing, the gap to the peloton reached a maximum of 5.20 while Sobrino was now 1.35 behind. While the peloton started to chase and reduced the gap to 4.30, the Spaniard constantly lost time until he was finally brought back by the peloton.

 

Ag2r attack in the crosswinds

Ag2r attacked in the crosswinds after 85km of racing and this split the bunch into 3 different group. As a consequence the gap cam down quickly and was 3.30 by the time the second and third group merged.

 

As the wind changed, the peloton again slowed down and this allowed the two main groups to get back together while the gap went back up to 4.40. Ag2r and Cofidis took up the pursuit, keeping the gap stable at around 4.30 for a little while.

 

A battle for KOM points

Just before the first passage of the finish line, Jakin beat Blain and Chinello in the first KOM sprint but Cofidis and Ag2r had now upped the pace, bringing the gap down to 3.35 at the finish. The chase was now on in earnest and while Jakin beat Chnello and Blain on the second climb and Chinello beat Jakin and Blain on the third, the advantage continued to come down.

 

On the second lap of the circuit that would be covered twice, it was down to 1.15 by the time Jakin beat Blain and Chinello on the fourth climb. 44km from the finish it was only 55 seconds and the capture was now imminent.

 

Blain is caught

With escapees now within shouting distance, the attacks from the peloton started to fire. On the fifth climb, the break split up leaving just Blain in front of the peloton.

 

Brice Feillu (Bretagne) joined the lone leader but 37km from the finish, it was all back together. There were constant attacks on the climb, with Alexis Gougeaurd (Ag2r) cresting the summit first ahead of Tony Hurel (Europcar) and Delapace but no one had any success.

 

Pineau takes off

30km from the finish the riders passed the line to start their lap of the difficult finishing circuit. On the first of the four climbs Cedric Pineau (FDJ) took off and he managed to build up a 10-second gap.

 

Surprisingly, Coquard took off in pursuit and he crested the summit in second position while Delaplace was still very active in third. The peloton had now exploded completely and when Coquard was brought back, around 20 riders were left in pursuit of Pineau.

 

Delaplace makes his move

The lone FDJ rider was finally caught but the attacking continued. A 15-rider group with Bardet, Minard , Gougeard , Geslin , Pichon, Dassonville , Vimpère, Van Asbroeck , Delaplace , Vachon, Di Gregorio , Ciavatta, Hardy , Pichot and an unidentified rider took off but a bigger group caught them from behind on the second of the final four climbs.

 

With 20km to go, Pichon and Delaplace attacked while Pichot took off in pursuit. The latter was caught on the penultimate climb where Delaplace left Pichon behind.

 

Europcar and Cofidis lead the chase

Delaplace crested the summit with a 10-second gap over the small 20-30 rider group that was led by Yoann Bagot (Cofidis) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r), working for Simon and Dumoulin respectively. He managed to reopen the gap to 15 seconds but now Europcar started to chase for Coquard.

 

Cofidis took over the pace-setting but Delaplace did well to keep a 10-second gap by the time he hit the final climb. Under the impetus of Cofidis, however, he was finally brought back 9km from the finish.

 

Mederel tries his hand

On the final climb, Maxime Mederel (Europcar) attacked while Brice Feillu (Bretagne) set off in pursuit. Before the top, however, they were both brought back, with Simon leading Coquard and Hardy over the summit.

 

A 28-rider group had now formed but the attacking continued. A 4-rider group opened a small gap but with 4km to go, it was back together.

 

The finale was a real festival of attacks but Europcar made sure that things were together by the time they passed the flamme rouge. From there they led Coquard out and the Frenchman paid them back by holding off Dumoulin and Pichon to take his second one-day win in less than two weeks.

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