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After launching a strong attack with 15km to go, Dumoulin joined forces with Pardini and Duval before beating the pair in a 3-rider sprint at the La Roue Tourangelle; Planckaert was 5th and retained the Coupe de France lead

Photo: Sirotti

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24.04.2016 @ 19:41 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r) out an illness-marred start to the season behind him by claiming his first season victory at La Roue Tourangelle. Having attacked with 15km to go, he joined forces with Olivier Pardini (Wallonie) and Julien Duval (Armee) and after the trio had managed to keep the peloton at bay, the Frenchman beat his rivals in the 3-rider sprint. Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie) was fifth and retained the Coupe de France lead.

 

For many years, Samuel Dumoulin has been famously known for his ability to clock up victories in the early part of the season. With 2014 being the only exception, he has won races before the end of February every year since 2010.

 

However, the 2016 season which is likely to be his final year in the pro peloton has not started in the usual way. In fact, Dumoulin has been marred by illness and so he has only slowly returned to form. He first showed that he was getting better when he sprinted to fifth in the first stage of the Criterium International one month ago but since then the results have come at a much faster rate. He was in the top 5 in both Route Adelie and Paris-Camembert, he was twice in the top 10 at Circuit Cycliste Sarthe and last Saturday he was agonizingly close to his first win when he finished second in Tour du Finistere.

 

The consistent string of results proved that it was just a matter of time before he would finally break his drought and today it all came together when he won La Roue Tourangelle. The race is known as a mini version of Paris-Tours and includes some of the same hills in the finale and this is where Dumoulin showed himself instead of waiting for the expected sprint finish.

 

After FDJ and Crelan had been leading the chase for most of the day, five riders held a small advantage as they entered the final 20km. The gap went down to 20 seconds but as FDJ didn’t want to catch them too early, they allowed it to go out to 30 seconds again. It was 25 seconds with 15km to go and when there were only 8 seconds left, the escapees started to attack each other.

 

That’s when Dumoulin made his move. The Frenchman jumped across to the leaders and sprinted past the break, with only Antonio Molina (Caja Rural) able to hang on. While the rest of the group was caught, Olivier Pardini (Wallonie) took off in pursuit and he made the junction just before they hit the Cote de l’Epan which us well-known from the finale of Paris-Tours.

 

The escapees crested the summit with a 6-second advantage after they had left Molina behind and instead Julien Duval (Armee) bridged across from the splintering peloton. The front trio managed to push their advantage out to 12 seconds and they still had a 10-second advantage when they entered the final 10km.

 

At the start of their lap of the 3.5km finishing circuit, the trio had opened a gap of 14 seconds and it as still 12 seconds with 2km to go. The peloton chased full gas but their effort was in vain as the trio managed to stay away and it was Dumoulin who proved his speed by beating Pardini in a very close battle. Mickael Delage (FDJ) beat Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie) and Clement Venturini (Cofidis) in the bunch sprint, failing to pass the three leaders by just a few metres.

 

With the fifth place, Planckaert extended his overall lead in the Coupe de France and he now leads Dumoulin by 61 points. With La Roue Tourangelle done and dusted, there’s a bit of a break in the series. The next races in the series are the GP Plumelec and Boucles de l’Aulne which are held in the final weekend of May. The next major event in France is the 4 Days of Dunkirk which starts on May 4.

 

A mini version of Paris-Tours

The 15th edition of La Roue Tourangelle was held on a 192km course that brought the riders from Beaumont en Veron to Tours. The first 107km saw the riders do a few circuits in the terrain near the starting city with two small climbs at the 58km and 82km marks. From there, they headed to Tours on a lumpy route that included three categorized climbs, with the final challenge coming 14km from the finish. Later they would tackle the famous Cote de l’Epan before they ended the race by doing one lap of a 3.5km circuit in Tours.

 

It was a sunny morning when the riders gathered for the start but when they rolled out for their neutral ride, a few raindrops started to fall. Alliaume Leblond (Team Differdange-Losch) and Tom Wirtgen (Leopard Development Team) attacked as soon as the flag was dropped but they never got much freedom and instead lots of new attacks were launched.

 

Four riders get clear

The peloton was still together as they hit the first climb where Kevin Lebreton (Armee) beat Guillaume Thevenot (Direct Energie) and David Menut (Auber 93) in the KOM sprint. The fast pace and the hilly terrain created a split in the field and it was Cofidis that tried to keep the first group going. However, it was all in vain and things came back together.

 

After the regrouping, there was a small lull in the peloton which allowed Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r), Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural), Thibault Ferasse (Armee) and Clement Koretzky (Vorarlberg) to attack. They quickly got an advantage of 20 seconds after 24km of racing but had to work very hard to get more than that as Crelan had missed the move and were chasing hard.

 

Crelan chase hard

However, the Belgian team was slowly losing the battle and when the gap had gone out to 1.15, they changed tactics. They tried to send Timothy Stevens across but he was marked by Maxime Daniel (Ag2r) and so the attempt was futile. As they stopped their effort, the gap started to grow quickly and it was 2.40 at the end of a first hour during which 47.1km had been covered. Meanwhile, Jauregui beat Koretzky and Ferasse in the second KOM sprint.

 

The gap went out to 3.45 before the peloton again upped the pace, and again it was Crelan taking control. First they kept the gap between the 3- and 4-minute marks and then they again accelerated hard, quickly reducing the gap to 1.05 after two hours of racing during which they had averaged 45.2km/h.

 

FDJ take control

As they passed through the feed zone after 90km of racing, the gap went out to 1.30 and while Carthy beat Jauregui and Koretzky in the third KOM sprint, the situation stabilized. The peloton reached the top 1.15 later.

 

FDJ decided it was time to make the race hard and as they entered the final 85km, they upped the pace significantly. In a matter of just a few kilometres, they reduced the gap to just 20 seconds.

 

Bravo bridges the gap

With the peloton breathing down their necks, the escapees started to attack each other and it was Jauregui who surged clear. The Frenchman put 10 seconds into his former companions on the fourth climb, cresting the summit in first place ahead of Koretzky and Ferasse while Carthy was distanced. The trio gathered again shortly after the KOM sprint and Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi) managed to bridge across from the peloton.

 

Jauregui’s attack put new life into the break which managed to push the gap out to 1.30 with 62km to go. Thomas Deruette (Wallonie - Brussels), Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Stef Krul (Metec-TKH p / b Mantel) and Cedric Raymackers (Team Differdange-Losch) briefly tried to bridge across but their attempt was in vain.

 

Molina takes off

The riders averaged 43.6km/h during the first three hours before the peloton again upped the pace. When Jauregui led Koretzky and Ferasse over the top of the fifth climb with 57km to go, the gap was down to just 35 seconds. Ludwig De Winter (Wallonie - Brussels) and Maxime Cam (Fortunéo - Vital Concept) attempted to bridge across but it was all in vain. Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi) had more luck and Meanwhile, Carthy was dropped from the break and swallowed up by the field.

 

With Carthy no longer in the break, Antonio Molina (Caja Rural) made a move and he got to within 8 seconds before he again started to lose ground. Meanwhile, the peloton was keeping the gap at 40 seconds.

 

Three riders bridge across

De Winter and Stevens who had both attacked earlier in the race, tried again and they picked up Molina, sitting 30 seconds behind the leaders. In the peloton, FDJ took control and started to slowly reelthe attackers in.

 

Stevens, Molina and De Winter made the junction with 29km to go where FDJ was still leading the peloton, 35 seconds behind the leaders. That forced the escapees to go full gas and two unidentified riders were left behind in the process. FDJ were keeping the situation under control but they failed to bring the break back when Dumoulin attacked in the finale.

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