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As the final starter, Engoulvent denies long-time leader Senechal in the Boucles de la Mayenne prologue, beating the Cofidis rider by less than a second

Photo: Sirotti








05.06.2014 @ 21:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar) again confirmed that he is an excellent prologue rider and fully ready for his role as a lead-out man at the Tour de France when he took a narrow victory in today’s prologue of the Boucles de la Mayenne. Being the final starter, the Frenchman shaved less than a second off the time set by long-time leader Florian Senechal (Cofidis) to become the first leader of the four-day race.


Jimmy Engoulvent has made it a tradition to win a prologue in the early part of June. The Frenchman has made the short, hilly prologue of the Tour de Luxembourg his specialty and has claimed the win in that particular stage no less than four times.


When the Luxembourgish race opened 24 hours ago, Engoulvent was absent from the start line. His Europcar team had chosen not to do the national tour in the smallest Benelux country to instead focus fully on their home races, Boucles de la Mayenne and Criterium du Dauphiné.


The former race started today with a short 4.5km prologue in Laval and here Engoulvent proved that he excels in the discipline even when it doesn’t take place on Luxembourgish soil. The Europcar rider was the final rider down the ramp and covered the course in a time of 5.48 to win the stage and become the first leader of the race.


Engoulvent’s performance left Florian Senechal with a feeling of disappointment as he was narrowly denied his first professional victory. The talented Frenchman who has made a very strong impression in his first year in the pro ranks, was an early started and led the race for most of the day until he was knocked out of the hot set by the final rider who beat him by less than a second


Another big talent, junior world champion Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP) continued the excellent showing from the recent Tour of Belgium when he finished 3rd ahead of another Dutch youngster Mike Teunissen (Rabobank). The pair finished 4 and 5 seconds behind Engoulvent respectively.


Engoulvent will wear the leader’s jersey in tomorrow’s first stage of the race which usually offers several opportunities for the sprinters. The opening road stage is a mostly flat affair and should give the fast finishers a first chance to shine.


A short prologue

Having been elevated to a 2.1 status, the Boucles de la Mayenne could present its best ever line-up when the race kicked off with a 4.5km prologue in Laval. The course was flat but had several corners that would break the rhythm of the riders and soon the explosive guys.


The first rider down the ramp was Yukihiro Takenouchi (Veranclassic) who set an early mark of 6.45 but already the next starter, Andrea Vandrame (Marchiol), was significantly faster. Matteo Belli (Nankang) got a brief stint in the hot seat but the first rider to go under 6 minutes was Illart Zuazubiskar (Euskadi) who stopped the clock in 5.56.


Impressive van der Poel

No one got close to the Basque’s time for a little while until Brice Feillu (Bretagne) proved that he is getting ready for the Tour de France by going less than a second faster than the race leader. Sander Helven (Topsport) slotted into third but it was van der Poel that stole the spotlight by going 4 seconds faster than Feillu.


Just minutes later, Teunissen threatened to take the lead, stopping the clock in a time that was less than a second too slow. The young Dutchmen enjoyed a 1-2 for a long time and held off strong challenges from Philipp Walsleben (BKCP) and Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ) who both went under 6 minutes, the latter slotting into third.


Senechal takes the lead

Van der Poel’s time as provisional leader came to an end when Senechal blasted across the line in a time that was three seconds faster than the Dutchman’s and he proved to be hard to beat. Bryan Nauleau (Europcar) did a good ride to slot into fourth while Bob Schoonbrodt (Veranclassic) also went under the 6-minute mark.


Things started to look good for Senechal as several riders failed to get even close to his mark. The next rider to make it into the top 10 was Stephane Rossetto (BigMat) but he was far off the mark.


Engoulvent takes the win

Senechal could make a sigh of relief when TT specialists Johan Le Bon (FDJ) and Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne) both missed the mark and as the final wave of riders started, only Engoulvent, Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne) and Gert Joeaar (Cofidis) were expected to pose a threat. The latter two were not even close, meaning that only Engoulvent could deny Senechal the win.


It was not to be for the Cofidis rider as Engoulvent again proved that he usually hits peak condition at this time of year. With the tiniest of margins, the Europcar rider took the win and first leader’s jersey of the four-day race.



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