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After a strong 10-rider break had been caught inside the final kilometre, Feillu bested Bouhanni and Dupont to take his first win of the season in Route Adelie Vitré

Photo: Vacansoleil-DCM






03.04.2015 @ 18:44 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Romain Feillu (Bretagne) confirmed that he still has the speed to win big bunch sprints when he emerged as the strongest in the uphill sprint in the Route Adelie Vitré. The Frenchman denied Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) his first win for his new team by beating him into second while Timothy Dupont (Roubaix) completed the podium.


In a magical 2011 season, Romain Feillu seemed destined for a big future as he achieved several top results, including a very solid performance in the Tour de France. Since then, however, the fast Frenchman has been unable to get back to the same level and he has been forced to drop down from the WorldTour level.


Last year he returned to France when he signed a contract with the Bretagne team. However, his first season with his new team was no big success as he only managed to win a single race, a stage of the 2.2 Ronde de l’Oise.


This year Feillu has got more internal competition in the role as lead sprinter for the French team which have signed both Yauheni Hutarovich and Daniel McLay for the fast finishes. While Feillu has had another slow start to the year, those two sprinters have both won races and the pressure has been building for the fast Frenchman.


Today he relieved himself from a big burden when he opened his account by winning the fourth round of the Coupe de France race series, Route Adelie Vitre. He excelled in the uphill sprint where he managed to take his first win in a bigger race since 2011.


However, it was another French sprinter who was expected to get back on track in the French race. Having been unable to win a single race for Cofidis in the first few months, Nacer Bouhanni lined up as the big favourite and his teammates rode on the front all day to bring it back together for a bunch sprint.


However, the bad weather and the undulating terrain nearly derailed the plans as a very strong 10-rider group got clear with 15km to. Being led by Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), the group turned out to be very hard to catch for the Cofidis team.


Voeckler was the first to escape from the lead group but with less than 2km to go, he was brought back by his chasers. Instead, Christophe Laborie (Bretagne) took off and he got agonizingly close to the win. He was passed by the fast-moving peloton just metres from the line and even managed to hold onto fourth place in a dramatic finale.


He may console himself with the fact that the win was taken by his teammate Feillu who held off Bouhanni and Timothy Dupont in the uphill sprint. Meanwhile, Baptiste Planckaert (Roubaix) takes the lead in the Coupe de France race series.


The fifth round of the series will be held on Sunday when the Paris-Camembert will be the scene for another battle between the best French racers on its lumpy course that has often suited Ardennes specialists or strong sprinters.


A circuit race

The 20th Route Adelie Vitre was held on a 197.8km course that started and finished in Vitre and was made up of two circuits. First the riders did 6 laps of a 21.1km circuit that included three smaller climbs and then they did 8 laps of a shorter 8.9km circuit that included the Cote de la Chesneliere in the first part before a rolling section led to the uphill final kilometre.


The riders took the start under a sunny sky but there was an imminent risk of showers. As usual in the Coupe de France races, a breakaway had a solid chance of making it and so the race was off to a very fast start.


The break is formed

Thomas Boudat (Europcar), Gregoire Tarride (Marseille), Matthew Zenovich (CTC) and Christophe Riblon (Ag2r)  escaped after more than 10km of fast racing while several riders had to come back from unusually many punctures. They worked hard to build an advantage of 35 seconds before David Summerhill (Unitedhealthcare) and Alo Jakin (Auber 93) set off in pursuit.


A few kilometres before the end of the first lap, the two front groups merged and while Morten Gadgaard (CTC) left the race, the peloton slowed down. At the first passage of the finish line, the gap was already 3.30.


Cofidis take control

The many punctures continued to mar the race while Cofidis started to work on the front of the peloton. They allowed the gap to increase to 4.55 but when they crossed the line at the end of the second lap, they had reduced their deficit to 4.45.


Cofidis accelerated slightly in the third lap and at the next passage of the line, the gap was only 3.45. It had now started to rain and a strong wind was blowing but it didn’t stop Cofidis from continuing their pace-setting with Dominique Rollin and Kenneth Vanbilsen, keeping the gap at 3.40 at the next passage of the line.


Boudat crashes

Maxime Daniel (Ag2r) and Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia) were the next riders to abandon while Boudat had a small crash in the front group. However, he quickly returned to his companions but could see his advantage having been reduced to 2.52 at the fifth lap.


Roubaix now started to work with the Cofidis team, hoping to set up their sprinter Baptiste Planckaert. At the same time, the sun again came out and the riders started to take off their rain jackets.


FDJ start to attack

At the end of the final lap of the big circuit, the gap was only 2.25 but as soon as the riders hit the small circuit, Cofidis had to work harder. The attacking started when Olivier Le Gac (FDJ) and Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne) took off and they managed to build an advantage of 20 seconds before Cofidis brought them back.


At the end of the first lap, the gap was only 1.50 but FDJ had to intention to wait for a sprint. They sent Laurent Pichon off in an attack while a 10-rider chase group with three of their riders and two from Europcar got formed. However, Cofidis managed to bring both Pichon and the chasers back.


Le Gac tries again

The attacking had brought the gap down quickly and with 50km to go, the escapees were only 50 seconds ahead. It even came down to 20 seconds before the escapees managed to change the trend by increasing their advantage to 43 seconds with 5 laps to go.


Le Gac tried again while Zenovich was dropped from the lead group. Moments later, Summerhill and Tarride were also distanced, leaving just Boudat, Riblon and Jakin to press on.


The break is caught

Cofidis were still leading the 50-rider peloton and they brought Le Gac, Summerhill, Zenovich and Tarride back. Meanwhile, the kept the gap stable at around 30-40 seconds for a while.


Sebastien Delfosse (Wallonie) launched a short-lived attack but he had no chance against the strong Cofidis team. Just before the end of the fifth lap, they had also brought the three escapees back but this opened the door for new attacks.


A strong group gets clear

Julien El Fares, Julien Loubet, Theo Vimpere were among the attackers but it was Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r), Benoit Jarrier (Bretagne) and Renaud Combaud who managed to get clear. While they fought hard to get a gap, the 40-rider peloton split in two.


Dan Craven (Europcar), Gustav Erik Larsson (Cult) and John Murphy (Unitedhealthcare) briefly tried to join the attackers but they were brought back. Instead, a 15-rider group with the likes of Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r), Le Gac, Lorenzo Manzin (FDJ), Julien Antomarchi (Roubaix), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Kevin Ista (Wallonie), Matthieu Boulo (Bretagne) got clear but they had no luck either.


More firepower for the break

At the start of the penultimate lap, the gap was no more than 15 seconds and this allowed Marco Canola (Unitedhealthcare), Christophe Laborie (Bretagne) and Clement Koretzky (Vorarlberg) to bridge across. They managed to build an advantage of 19 seconds while Cofidis continued to set the pace.


Pichon, Arthur Vichot (FDJ), Voeckler and Jonathan Clarke (Unitedhealthcare) took off in pursuit and while the latter got dropped, Julien Berard (Ag2r), Arnaud Courteille (FDJ) and Loic Desriac (Kinan) joined them. They managed to bridge the gap and with 10km to go, the leaders were 24 econds ahead.


Voeckler and Laborie take off

Courteille, Koretzky, Canola and Jauregui were distanced were distanced before the riders started the final lap and instead Simone Stortoni (Androni), Bryan Nauleau (Europcar) and Christian Mager (Cult) joined the action. Desriac was the next to lose contact but Stortoni, Berard, Pichon, Vichot, Jarrier, Laborie, Nauleau, Voeckler, Mager and Combaud pressed on.


On the final climb with 7km to go, the escapees were 30 seconds ahead but when they started to lose ground, Voeckler attacked. The Frenchman was brought back less than 2km from the finish and instead Laborie took off. Inside the final kilometre, however, it all came back together and it was Romain Feillu who took the win.



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