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"The goal was not to win, but rather to have somebody in the break so that we didn't have to chase. We had a puncheur (Samuel Dumoulin) for whom the finish was perfect. He had analyzed it well."

Photo: Sirotti






21.02.2015 @ 21:26 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ben Gastauer (Ag2r) took the biggest win of his career when he emerged as the strongest in the hilly first stage of the Tour du Haut Var. Having been part of a 5-rider breakaway, they strong Luxembourger attacked on the Mur de Montauroux to distance his companions and narrowly managed to hold off the peloton to take both the stage win and the first leader’s jersey in the race.


2014 was a breakthrough year for Ben Gastauer who had mostly been known as a loyal domestique when he lined up for the Tour de France. Those three weeks on French soil made him famous for his excellent climbing skills as he was the key support rider for Jean-Christophe Peraud and Romain Bardet and played a key role in securing Ag2r’s win in the teams classification.


Until today, however, his only wins had come at the Luxembourg championships and he had never really been close to a big pro win. That all changed when he took a hugely impressive solo win on the first stage of the Tour du Haut Var.


"We wanted to be in the breakaway to protect our leaders Samuel Dumoulin and Rinaldo Nocentini," he said. I" took my chance and the breakaway got ahead. At 30 kilometers from the finish, I started to think that it could go all the way and I had a card to play. On top of the last climb, the Mur de Montauroux, I attacked and I was alone. 5km from the finish, it became more difficult, but I kept a small advantage


"It have been dreaming about this for five years. This is the icing on the cake. This morning I had to play the team and, ultimately, I won. I seized my chance.


"This [to wear the jersey] is something new. I am used to riding for others. I'll be happy and excited to experience this. I know the team managers will find a good strategy to keep it.


"I had a goal: to win a race. It is done. I know that I will be a support rider in the big races.But if I can win a race again, I won't hesitate.


"The goal was not to win, but rather to have somebody in the break so that we didn't have to chase," he told Directvelo a little later. "We had a puncheur (Samuel Dumoulin) for whom the finish was perfect. He had analyzed it well. Samuel really wanted to play his card. We said we were going to put someone in front which allowed us to save more energy to set him up for the finale. But eventually, the peloton has left us enough room to play for the win, and the breakaway was going to stay away. 


"Thirty kilometers from the finish, I still felt good and I saw that we had more than three minutes. I thought that with the last cimb fifteen kilometers from the line and the technical passages, we would not lose so much time. I understood that today could be my chance. I knew I had to give everything on the Mur de Montauroux and nobody followed me. So I went alone to the finish. In the last five kilometers, I felt I was about to crack. But at the red flame, I saw that I still had enough of an advantage and I was going to win. On Sunday, the objective will be to defend the jersey. It remains to be seen how we will do so."


"Ben is the archetypal good guy," Dumoulin said. "He has no enemies and is willing to devote hilself to others. This win is further proof that the training system at the Chambéry Cycling Team and AG2R La Mondiale works perfectly. I do not know if that victory can serve as a trigger but what is certain is that we will do everything to keep this leader's jersey and take a second consecutive win in Haut Var."



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