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German beats Demare and Dumoulin in bunch sprint in important Paris-Tours warm-up race to mark himself out as favourite for the final big classic of the season

Photo: Sirotti

JOHN DEGENKOLB

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PARIS-BOURGES

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TEAM SUNWEB

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10.10.2013 @ 17:30 Posted by Malte Philbert Jessen

Following his two stage wins in the Tour de l'Eurometropole, John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) continued his recent string of success when the German sprinter powered clear in of Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r) to win the late-season semi-classic Paris-Bourges. With the win, Degenkolb has firmly established himself as favourite for Sunday's Paris-Tours.

 

Last year John Degenkob was the red-hot favourite for the final big classic of the season, Paris-Tours. This year the German finds himself in a similar position after he won today's traditional warm-up race, Paris-Bourges.

 

Despite plenty of wind, the race was a relatively controlled affair that saw a 6-rider breakaway get clear early in the race. With riders like Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and Pavel Brutt (Katusha) both up the road, the break did, however, have considerable firepower and they peloton had to race hard to neutralize the escape inside the final 10km of the race.

 

Hence, it all came down to the expected bunch sprint where Degenkolb proved that he is going very strong at the moment. The German continued his recent string of success by beating Arnaud Demare and Samuel Dumoulin in the sprint and so took his third win in less than a week following his two recent stage wins in the Tour de l'Eurometropole. The win is also a continuation of a fantastic week for his Argos-Shimano team as it comes just two days after Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg's win in Binche-Chimay-Binche.

 

Degenkolb is now the clear favourite for Sunday's Paris-Tours. You can follow that race on CyclingQuotes.com/live and read a thorough preview on Saturday.

 

A flat race

The 63rd edition of Paris-Bourges was held on a 190,3km route that started in Gien and finished in Bourges. The course was mostly flat with only a few smaller climbs along the way and as usual, a sprint finish was the most likely outcome of the race. However, a strong wind was blowing and many riders feared that the climatic conditions could blow the race to pieces.

 

Almost from the fun 4 riders escaped as Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil), Tim Mertens (Topsport Vlaanderen), Julien Duval (Roubaix) and - surprisingly - sprinter Bryan Coquard (Europcar) managed to separate themselves from the peloton. They were quickly allowed to build up a gap of 1.45 and the early break appeared to have been established.

 

Wallonie start to chase

While Duval made a small attack in the front group to pick up KOM points before drifting back to his fellow escapees, Wallonie realized that they had missed the move. The team started to chase hard and for a long time, the gap was stable at around 1.30. They even got assistance from Crelan-Euphony who had also missed the move while Topsport Vlaanderen tried to disrupt the chase.

 

As they were unable to catch the escapees, the elastic finally snapped and the gap came up to 2.25. Pavel Brutt (Katusha) decided to go off in pursuit and he was later joined by Sebastien Delfosse (Crelan).

 

The junction is made

While the peloton kept losing ground, the chase duo gradually got closer to the front quartet and with 114km to go, the junction was made. At this point, the peloton was 4.40 behind.

 

The main group decided to up the pace and in less than 20km, the gap was brought down to less than 3 minutes. Meanwhile, Mertens fell off the pace in the front group and was a lone chaser for quite a while before being absorbed by the main group.

 

A strong group goes clear

The peloton slowed down again and kept a stable gap between 3 and 4 minutes for some time until they reached the short, steep Cote du Graveron 70km from the finish. The pace up the ascent was fierce and a very strong group with Thomas Voeckler and Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), Clement Koretzky (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM), Guillaume Levarlet (Cofidis) and Laurent Pichon (Fdj.fr) got clear. However, the move was immediately neutralized.

 

The peloton kept a high pace and the gap was now down to just 30 seconds. Jeremy Bescond (Cofidis) made an unsuccessful attempt to get across but was quickly back in the fold.

 

The break splits up

On the next climb of the day with 35km to go, Coquard and Delfosse fell off the pace while David Le Lay (Sojasun) attacked and quickly caught the fading escapee. However, they were all caught by the peloton which was now led by Bretagne.

 

For a long time, the race was now a fierce pursuit between the front trio and the peloton in which FDJ and Ag2r had now taken control. The gap kept hovering around the 30-second mark and the front trio did a good job to keep the peloton at bay.

 

In the end, it was, however all in vain and with 4km to go, everything was back together. Voeckler tried to make a late attack but had no success and so all was set to be decided in a big bunch sprint. Degenkolb showed his good run of form by taking the win ahead of Demare and Dumoulin.

 

Result:

1. John Degenkolb

2. Arnaud Demare

3. Samuel Dumoulin

4. Heinrich Haussler

5. Davide Appollonio

6. Rudy Barbier

7. Mickael Delage

8. Lloyd Mondory

9. Cyril Lemoine

10. Thomas Damuseau

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