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"In the group, I saw that everybody was looking at Tony Martin. We knew he was the strongest and the one who goes faster in the TT. I grabbed my chance in the final."

Photo: Sirotti




26.08.2015 @ 00:49 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne) became a hugely surprising winner of the first stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes when he managed to escape from a 12-rider group that had attacked in the finale. The Frenchman held off Maxime Daniel (Ag2r) by just a single second and the rest of the group by 3 seconds to take both the stage win and the leader’s jersey.


With the race often being decided in the time trial, Arnaud Gerard has often done well in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, even finishing fourth two years ago. However, the strong rouleur who is known as a relentless attacker has never managed to win a stage in the mostly flat French race.


This year he is again aiming for the overall as he hopes to save what has been a disappointing season and the race couldn’t have started any better for the strong Frenchman. With a surprise move in the finale, he took his first big win since the 2008 La Polynormande on a stage that was expected to suit the sprinters.


"It was a stage that had to be reserved for the sprinters," he told Directvelo. "Four riders attacked but the race was back together in the last 50 kilometers. I attacked on the last climb, while I was not expecting it at all. I knew I had carte blanche today and I could try my luck. 


"I joined this group because I knew I was not going to win the sprint. I thought I had to go. You had to be opportunistic. I found myself at the front of the race, but we did not get along super well. Each had his own plans, but there were still real rouleurs, and everybody still took turns. We immediately made ​​the gap, with 25 seconds growing to 40 seconds. 


"In the group, I saw that everybody was looking at Tony Martin. We knew he was the strongest and the one who goes faster in the TT. I grabbed my chance in the final. I waited for the last two kilometers to attack. I wanted to go all out. I knew I had a chance in the sprint, but still lower than by arriving alone. 


"Tony Martin had just attacked and I countered. The others watched. I knew that if I got  a small lead, nobody would want to make the effort to catch me. It was an advantage. I looked where my chasers were with 300m to go. I saw that I was ahead but I thought I had to sprint to the finish line, especially since I saw Maxime Daniel came back pretty strong. 


"I am really satisfied to win, I have not done so since 2008. I was close several times, but it was not easy to make it. The win is also very good for the team that had not won since April (in the Route Adélie, ed). This victory confirms the great season as the team continues to grow. I am really very happy. Now I will try to do the best possible GC, trying to reduce the loss in the TT. We'll see day to day, but we will already enjoy this tonight. "

"When the group of four riders was caught by the peloton, a lot of riders tried their luck," his teammate Frederik Brun told Directvelo. "So I also tried to go there when there was a moment of hesitation, but it was quickly over. I found myself all alone in front, I would have preferred to be accompanied.  A small group got back to me but at that time the peloton was riding fast. I suspected that the peloton would not let anyone go. 


"I think that Arnaud (Gerard) is capable of making a good GC. This victory should give him confidence, he is able to do a good TT. We will handle the situation until the TT and we'll see what he will do that day.  I think the sprinters will want tomorrow's stage to end in a sprint. I think we will help to make it happen. 


"From a personal point of view, after the Tour de France, I continued the momentum in the Polynormande and then the Tour de l'Ain. I then made ​​a small break to best prepare for the Tour of Poitou-Charentes. I'm in a comeback mode, and I am now full on until Paris-Tours."


"I did 'not really imagine such scenarios," sports director Roger Trehin told Directvelo. "I expected to see a bunch sprint as often in the Tour Poitou-Charentes. There were 80% chance that it would be a sprint, and even more than that.


"But finally it exploded when the break was caught. It hurt the legs and 12 strong riders got clear. When Arnaud (Gerard) attacked with 2000m to go, I did not believe he would make with riders like Johan Le Bon, Tony Martin, José Herrada and others. I thought he was going to be caught on the last climb but obviously he was really strong because he managed to keep a very small gap to the lone.


"Yauheni (Hutarovich) had a puncture and suffered to get back (with Benoit Jarrier, ed), Daniel (McLay) also had a mechanical problem at the wrong time by hitting a stone. He never managed to return. But at that time we still had the card of Romain Feillu who is good in a finish like this.


"Now, Arnaud has the leader's jersey. There are no real differences in the overall standings, so it will not be very important before the TT. This year, Arnaud is quite irregular in the TTs. He was good in the Tour of Luxembourg (3rd in the prologue, ed) and the Boucles de la Mayenne (6th in the prologue in 2014) but he also missed out like at Nationals. 


"I think he will do a good TT, especially with the positive momentum by winmomh the first stage. But we must realize that there are six or seven very great rouleurs here with three of the best in the world, Tony Martin, Alex Dowsett and Adriano Malori. Furthermore, there Johan Le Bon, Jérémy Roy, Jonathan Castroviejo. I think there has never been such a strong group of specialists in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes in recent years. Then it will be super hard to make a top 10 in the TT and the GCl.


"in the second step, it is likely to end  in a sprint, with sprinters that are going to want to win but also the GC riders who will want to control the race. We'll ride a little but will surely get help from several teams. We are not the most interested in the victory in tomorrow's stage."



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