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Young Portuguese joins strong escape that holds off the peloton in intense pursuit before setting off on his own to take big win in the 11th round of the season-long Coupe de France

Photo: Sirotti

LA POMME MARSEILLE

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28.07.2013 @ 18:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jose Goncalves continued the fantastic season of his small continental team, La Pomme Marseille, by winning the 11th round of the season-long Coupe de France series. In the one-day race La Poly Normande, the Portuguese made a late solo move from a 5-rider escape group that had won a tough battle against the peloton, and no one was able to bring back the 24-year old time trial specialist who took his first win as a professional.

 

Having long been described as a big talent, Jose Goncalves left his native Portugal to join the continental La Pomme Marseille prior to this season. Today he proved why his French team had been attracted by his talents as he took another big win for the small team which has had an outstanding season so far.

 

The Portuguese was part of an 8-rider breakaway that escaped early in the race and the race developed into a hard pursuit between that group and the Europcar-led peloton. 3 riders fell off the pace, and so only 5 riders were left when it was clear that the escapees would decide the win amongst them.

 

Being known as a time trial specialist, Goncalves made a late move inside the final 5km and none of his companions were able to respond. He kept his pace all the way to the line while Matthias Brändle (IAM) beat Sebastien Delfosse (Crelan-Euphony) in the sprint for 2nd 14 seconds later.

 

The win is the first of Goncalves' professional career but he has generally been impressive in his big races this season. A contract with the a bigger team could very well be on the cards for the talented Portuguese.

 

An aggressive start

The 157km race took place in Normandy and consisted of an opening 31km section and 10 subsequent laps on a 12,5km finishing circuit that contained a smaller climb. From the gun, attacks went thick and fast and the first to gain some serious ground were Rudy Kowalski (Roubaix) and Benjamin Giraud (La Pomme Marseille). A hard chase ensued until that move was eventually brought back.

 

Instead, it was a massive 19-rider break that moved clear as defending champion Hurel (Europcar), Chainel, Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale), Martias, Schmidt (Sojasun), Cammaerts, Fouchard (Cofidis), Gérard (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Prémont, Baestaens (Crelan-Euphony), Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Saramotins (IAM Cycling), Antomarchi, Rostollan (La Pomme Marseille), Le Boulch (BigMat-Auber 93), Vermeulen, Patoux (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), Bonnet and Leveau (France) were allowed to build up a 55-second gap. FDJ.fr and Wallonie were two of only three teams to have missed the break and so those two teams contributed to try to bring it back together.

 

FDJ and Wallonie lead the chase

Geoffrey Soupe and Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr) were some of the riders to do a huge amount of work in the peloton while up ahead Martias and Baestans fell off the pace on the climb and back into the peloton. A little later, Cammaerts punctured out of the lead group and with 98km to go, the hard chase finally bore fruit as it all came back together.

 

Sojasun now put down the hammer and split the field in two before launching Fabien Schmidt up the road. Kenneth Vanbilsen (Topsport Vlaanderen) tried to get across but both were ultimately reeled in by the fast-moving peloton.

 

The decisive split happens

With 74km to go, the decisive split happened as Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale), Laborie (Sojasun) Guillou (Bretagne-Dried Environment), Zingle (Cofidis), Delfosse (Crelan-Euphony), Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) Brandle (IAM Cycling) and Gonçalves (La Pomme Marseille) moved ahead while Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Boulo (Roubaix-Lille Métropole) and Le Fustec (France) formed a chase group a little further behind. Vanoverberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Kern (AG2R La Mondiale), Steels (Crelan-Euphony), Goddaert (IAM Cycling) and Giraud (La Pomme Marseille) bridged to the chasers but that group always had difficulty bridging the gap.

 

There was more substitution in the chase group as all but Wallays, Le Fustec and Steels fell back to the peloton while Stephane Rossetto (Big Mat Auber 93) bridged across. The peloton was now more than 2.05 behind and Europcar used up all their riders to bring it back together and so allow Tony Hurel a chance to defend last year's win.

 

Offredo bridges across

The chase was efficient as the gap now started to come down. Meanwhile, Rossetto and Wallays had dropped Le Fustec and Steels while Yoann Offredo (FDJ.fr) had bridged across. That group got closer to the leaders and with 30km to go, they were only 45 seconds behind while the peloton was 20 seconds further behind.

 

The peloton caught the chasers but Europcar had now used up most of its riders as Alexandre Pichot, Angelo Tulik and Hurel himself were by now the only green-clad riders in the main group. That loss of strength saw the gap go back p to 1.30 with 13km to go and it was now clear that the winner would be one of the escapees.

 

Lead group whittled down

Guillou, Laborie and Declercq fell off on the penultimate lap and so it was left to Cherel, Goncalvez, Zingle, Delfosse and Brändle to decide the winner. As the game of cat-and-mouse started, Goncalves made a smart move to distance his rivals inside the final 5km and from then on there was no looking back.

 

The Portuguese took a beautiful solo win while Brändle beat Delfosse, Zingle and Cherel in the sprint for 2nd. Guillaume Levarlet (Cofidis) and Guillaume Thevenot (France) had made late attacks to take 6th and 7th respectively while Yannick Martinez made it an even better day for La Pomme Marseille by winning the peloton's sprint for 8th.

 

Result:

1. Jose Goncalves 3.40.29

2. Matthias Brändle +0.14

3. Sebastien Delfosse

4. Romain Zingle

5. Mikael Cherel +0.19

6. Guillaume Levarlet +1.44

7. Guillaume Thevenot +1.47

8. Yannick Martinez +1.52

9. Aleksejs Saramotins

10. Antonie Demoitie

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