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One day after his win at the GP de Plumelec, Dumoulin was the fastest in the uphill sprint at the Boucles de l’Aulne; Vichot was second and Venturini took third

Photo: AG2R La Mondiale

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ARTHUR VICHOT

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BOUCLES DE L'AULNE À CHÂTEAULIN

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SAMUEL DUMOULIN

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29.05.2016 @ 19:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a very fast and aggressive race, Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r) made it to wins in two days when he added the victory in the Boucles de l’Aulne to the win he took at the GP de Plumelec yesterday. After his Ag2r team had controlled the final 8km lap, he beat Arthur Vichot (FDJ) and Clement Venturini (Cofidis) in the uphill sprint and this allowed him to move in the lead in the Coupe de France standings.

 

Samuel Dumoulin has always been known as one of the best French one-day riders and he has become a bit of a guarantee for Ag2r as a rider that they can rely on for the months of January and February. However, illness meant that he had a slow start to the year and for once he failed to win a single race at the start of the year.

 

If some were concerned that this would prevent him from getting a win in 2016, they have been firmly silenced. After riding himself into form in March, Dumoulin has been unstoppable since the middle of April.

 

It all started when he won La Roue Tourangelle in the middle of April which was the final race in the Coupe de France series before a break of more than a month. Dumoulin may have been frustrated not to have been able to capitalize more on his good form at that time to move back into overall contention in the series but he had no reason to worry.

 

This weekend the race series resumed with the double appointment of the GP de Plumelec and the Boucles de l’Aulne and after he won yesterday’s race, Dumoulin added the victory in the latter event to his palmares today. Beating Arthur Vichot and Clement Venturini in an uphill sprint, he completed the hat-trick in the Coupe de France

 

The 59th edition of Boucles de l’Aulne was a circuit race over 168km around the city of Chateaulin. The first part consisted of six laps of a big 17.2km circuit which had a rolling first part and then included the hardest climb of the race around the 10km mark. From there a long descent led to a short flat section and the final 500m which were uphill. The second part of the race consisted of 8 laps of a shorter 8.1km circuit which was just the final rolling part of the big circuit.

 

It was sunny with a 28-degree temperature and no wind when the riders gathered for the start. Thomas Sprengers (Topsport Vlaanderen) was the only non-starter as they head out for their neutral ride.

 

As always in the Boucles de l’Aulne, it was a fast start with lots of attacks and it was an 11-rider group that initially formed. Five riders bridged across but the group was soon brought back.

 

A quartet was briefly formed before Jerome Cousin (Cofidis) attacked on the main climb. He was joined by Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) and they headed down the descent with an 8-second advantage over the peloton. Yoann Offredo (FDJ), Benoit Jarrier (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural), Kevin Lebreton (Armee) and Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi) bridged across and the seven escapees pushed the gap out to 15 seconds. However, the hroup was too dangerous and so things came back together at the end of the first lap.

 

Ag2r wet on the attack again but they missed the move when Kevin Reza (FDJ), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Fabien Grellier (Direct Energie), Delio Fernandez (Delko), Antonio Molina (Caja Rural), Giorgio Bocchiola and Davide Leone (D’Amico) got clear. That forced the French team to chase and after Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Mikael Cherel (Ag2r), Madrazo, David Gaudu and Valentin Madouas (France) had first made the junction, it all came back together.

 

As they headed down the descent from the main climb, Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Cousin, Maxime Cam (Fortuneo), Molina and Madouas got an advantage but they were back in the fold at the end of the second lap. The peloton was starting to split due to the fast pace.

 

Suddenly, a big 24-rider group had formed when Flavien Dassonville, Pierre Gouault (Auber 93), Laurent Pichon, Arthur Vichot (FDJ), Gougeard, Pierre Latour (Ag2r), Romain Hardy, Luis Angel Maté, Cousin (Cofidis), Anthony Delaplace, Franck Bonnamour (Fortuneo), Romain Guillemois (Direct Energie), Quentin Pacher, Christophe Laborie, Yannick Martinez (Delko), Jose Goncalves, Jonathan Lastra (Caja Rural), Julien Antomarchi (Roibaix), Romain Le Roux, Stephane Poulhiès (Arme)), Gaudu, Aurelien Paret-Peintre, Madouas (France) and Aitor Gonzalez (Euskadi) escaped. Madouas was soon dropped while the group opened a 20-scond advantage.

 

While Jan Petelin and Tiago Da Silva (Differdange) became the first riders to abandon, more riders bridged across to make it around 30 riders in the front. They had a 15-second advantage at the end of the third lap but again it came back together.

 

Sebastien Turgot (Ag2r), Cousin and Jens Wallays (Topsport) were the next to attack and were joined by Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (FDJ), Jarrier, Laborie, Goncalves, Poulhies and Mikel Iturria (Euskadi) to form a 9-rider group. Hey got a maximum advantage of 25 seconds but at the top of the climb, it was all back together.

 

The next group was formed by Anthony Maldonado (Auber 93), Ladagnous, Latour, Edet, Bryan Nauleau (Direct Energie), Molina, Yann Guyot (Armee) and Delaplace and while six riders took off in pursuit, they managed to get the biggest advantage yet. It reached 50 seconds but then the peloton upped the pace again, bringing the chasers back and reducing the gap to 30 seconds.

 

However, the front group won the battle and suddenly the gap had gone out to 1.45. However, Delko had missed the move so they hit the front and kept the gap stable between 1.35 and 1.45 for a while.

 

Euskadi came to the fore to work with the Delko riders and so the gap had come down to 1.10 as they hit the bottom of the climb for the final time. The Basques rode hard on the ascent and when they crossed the line to start the first lap of the small circuit, the gap was down to just 20 seconds.

 

The gap stayed stable during lap but just before the end of the second lap, the group was brought back. Fabrice Jeandesboz (Direct Energie) attacked immediately and got a solid gap before Maxime Daniel (Ag2r), Cousin, Jarrier and Lastra gave chase. Gaudu, Poulhies and Gonzales also tried to get clear and they all joined Jeandesboz.

 

At the end of the third lap, the 8 leaders had an advantage of 25 seconds but that was not insurmountable for Alo Jakin (Auber 93), Hardy and Serge Dewortelaer (Differdange) who bridged the gap. FDJ had missed the move so they took control in the peloton and kept the gap at 25 seconds at the end of the fourth lap.

 

FDJ upped the pace and when the break was almost back in the fold, Jeandesboz and Daniel went again. They managed to reopen the gap to 20 seconds at the end of the fifth lap.

 

FDJ were stilling setting the pace and kept the gap stable until they started the penultimate lap 8km later. Here Jeandesboz dropped Daniel and dug deep to maintain a 10-second advantage.

 

Four riders led by Pierrick Fedrigo (Fortuneo) joined Jeandesboz but just before they crossed the line for the penultimate time, it was all back together. A Caja Rural rider was the next to try before defending champion Jakin gave it an unsuccessful go.

 

Unsurprisingly, Ag2r were now going for the sprint with Dumoulin and they took completely control, stringing out the peloton in the final 5km. They remained on the front until Dumoulin started his sprint and he managed to hold off Vichot and Venturini to take his first win in the race.

 

Overall Coupe de France leader Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie) was doing the Belgium Tour and this allowed Dumoulin to take over the lead with a 39-point advantage. The next race in the series is La Polynormande on August 31 but there’s a lot of action in France before then. The next major race in the country is the Boucles de la Mayenne which starts on Thursday.

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