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For the second year in a row, Herrada won the final stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, beating Bakelants and Ruffoni in a bunch sprint; Chavanel finished 8th and won the race overall for the third time in his career

Photo: Movistar














29.08.2014 @ 18:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

For the second year in a row, Jesus Herrada (Movistar) won the final stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes when he became a surprise winner of a bunch sprint, holding off Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani). Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) finished 8th and won the race overall.


Last year Jesus Herrada took one of the biggest wins of his career when he emerged as the strongest from a breakaway in the hilly final stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes. Today he again defied the odds when he repeated that achievement on a day which was expected to suit the sprinters.


In fact, the race was decided in a bunch sprint but Herrada showed unusual sprinting skills when he beat Jan Bakelants and yesterday’s stage winner Nicola Ruffoni in the final dash to the line. A late climb made for an unusual sprint that saw Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finish 23rd while his teammate Bakelants was near the front.


After yesterday’s crucial time trial, the Tour du Poitou-Charentes ended with its hardest road stage that brought the riders over 191.9km from Lezay to Poitiers. A mostly flat first part with just a small categorized climb preceded a tricky finale with two categorized ascents and several small hills. The finish line was located at the top of a slight rise.


Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Roy Jans (Wanty) were absent from the start when the riders took off under pleasant weather conditions. They first attack by Juan Esteban Arango (Colombia) and Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty) was quickly brought back before Baptiste Planckaert (Roubaix) took off.


Christophe Laborie (Bretagne), Edwin Avila (Colombia), Van Melsen and Tom Dernies (Wallonie) set off in pursuit and they managed to join the lone leader. After 7km of racing, they were 50 seconds ahead and now Thomas Rostollan (La Pomme) took off in pursuit.


While Van Melsen beat Avila and Laborie in the first KOM sprint, both Rostollan and the peloton started to lose ground. After 32km of racing, the gaps were 1.30 and 3.50 respectively as IAM had now taken control in the peloton.


The escapees decided to wait for Rostollan and when he joined the group, they were 3.30 ahead. However, the peloton already accelerated and brought the gap down to 2 minutes where IAM kept it stable for a long time.


Rostollan beat Planckaert and Van Melsen in the first intermediate sprint and he was again first across the line in the second, leading Dernies and Van Melsen. The Frenchman made it three in a row when he led Laborie and Van Melsen across the line in the final one.


The peloton accelerated slightly and under the impetus of IAM, they had brought the gap down to 1.40 with 53km to go. Van Melsen again scored maximum points on the penultimate climb of the day which kicked off the hilly finale.


Neri Sottoli had now joined forces with IAM and with 35km to go, they had brought the gap down to 1.15. On the final climb, Van Melsen picked up the final points to secure the win in the mountains competition.


On that ascent, Ag2r tried to make the peloton explode and as a consequence, a 6-rider group took off. Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r), Olivier Le Gac (FDJ), Pablo Lastras (Movistar), Stephane Poulhies (Cofidis), Matthias Brändle (IAM) and Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) were 30 seconds behind with 25km to go.


The peloton brought that group back while Van Melsen attacked from the front group. While he started to gain time, Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) attacked from the peloton and he managed to join Van Melsen while the rest of the early break was caught.


Sütterlin dropped Van Melsen before being joined by Nicola Boem (Bardiani). With 13km to go, they were 15 seconds ahead and when Boem took off on his own, he managed to extend his advantage to 20 seconds.


Sütterlin rejoined the Italian and with 10km to go, the pair were 25 seconds ahead. FDJ were now chasing hard but with 5km to go, the escapees still had 20 seconds on hand.


With 2km to go, they were brought back and this opened the door for new attacks on the final climb. 10 riders got clear but Cofidis and Roubaix brought it back together for a bunch sprint where Herrada emerged as a surprise winner.


Sylvain Chavanel crossed the line in 8th to win the race for the third time in his career, with Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) completing the podium.  Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the points competition and Van Melsen took the mountains jersey. Herrada was the best young rider while IAM won the teams classification.


Racing in France resumes on Sunday when the WorldTour returns to the country for the GP Ouest France-Plouay.



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