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With a perfectly timed sprint in the uphill finish, Planckaert held off Dumoulin and Geniez to win a very fast edition of the Tour du Finistere; the Belgian extended his Coupe de France lead

Photo: Sirotti








16.04.2016 @ 17:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie) continued his amazing run of form by winning a very fast and tough edition of the Tour du Finistere. In the uphill finish, he held off Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r) and Alexandre Geniez when a reduced peloton decided the race and the win allowed the Belgian to extend his leads in the Coupe de France standings.


When he joined Landbouwkrediet in 2010, Baptiste Planckaert was a promising sprinter but he failed to achieve any major results during his four years at the pro level. Hence, there was no room for him in the professional field when his team folded at the end of the 2013 season and he had to step down to continental level.


However, Planckaert refused to give up and he has steadily progressed. During his two years at the Roubaix team, he gradually developed into one of the most consistent sprinters in the French races but it is the 2016 season that has really proved the full extent of his potential.


Riding for the Wallonie team, Planckaert has been unstoppable in the first part of the year. He won the Tour de Normandie overall and finished second to teammate Olivier Pardini at the Circuit des Ardennes. Furthermore, consistent placings in the Coupe de France meant that he went into today’s Tour du Finistere as the leader of the prestigious series.


After his fourth place finish at Thursday’s GP de Denain, Planckaert played down his chances in the overall standings, saying that he had to get through this very difficult weekend in Brittany with the Tour du Finistere and the Tro Bro Leon. After the first of those races, however, he must now eye overall victory as he proved his status as one of the best sprinters on tough courses by winning the event.


The race finished with five laps of a tough 8.7km finishing circuit that included a steep 12.5% ramp that ended just 700m from the line and it was a false flat that led to the finish. The finale came at the end of an extremely fast race where it took more than two hours for the early break to be formed and as the fast pace continued throughout the day, it was all back together with 25km to go.


The scene was set for new attacks and it was Theo Vimpere (Auber 93) who launched the first unsuccessful move. Fabrice Jeandesboz (Direct Energie) was next to try and he got a solid advantage while Romain Hardy (Cofidis) and Vimpere took off in pursuit. However, all three riders were back in the fold when they entered the final 12km.


The tough circuit took its toll as lots of riders were getting dropped. Meanwhile, the riders approached the start of the final lap and it was Guillaume Martin (Wanty) who tried to use the late climb to escape. He stayed clear for a few kilometres but with 6km to go, a 70-rider peloton had gathered in front.


Several riders tried to attack in the finale but the fast pace made it impossible for anyone to escape. As they passed the flamme rouge, Cofidis took control, trying to set up former winner Julien Simon. However, he was unable to take his second win as Planckaert emerged as the fastest, holding off Samuel Dumoulin and Alexandre Geniez, with Simon having to settle for fourth.


With the win, Planckaert also extended his lead in the Coupe de France standings as he goes into the 8th race in the series. Tomorrow’s Tro Bro Leon includes several gravel road sectors and is known as the mini Paris-Roubaix which should allow the classics specialists to come to the fore.


A hilly course

The 31st edition of Tour du Finistere was held on a 192.9km course that started in Saint-Evarzec and finished in the main city of Quimper and barely featured a single metre of flat roads. There was a total of six climbs on the menu before the riders got to Quimper for the first time where they ended the race by doing five laps of an 8.7km circuit that included a steep 12.5% climb just after the flamme rouge, leading to the final 700m of false flat in a very technical finale.


The riders had slightly cloudy conditions when they gathered for the start. Mark McNally (Wanty) who had been called up for the Amstel Gold Race was the only non-starter as they headed out for their neutral ride.


A brutal start

Tour du Finistere has often been won by a breakaway and so it was no surprise that the race got off to a very fast start. After 13km of constant attacking, a dangerous 10-rider group got clearly but the peloton quickly reacted. This set the scene for more attacks and the fast pace was too much for Guillaume Levarlet (Auber 93) who abandoned.


While the attacking continued, rain started to fall which made the narrow roads treacherous. Things were still together when Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) beat Romain Hardy (Cofidis) and Eneko Lizarralde (Euskadi) in the first intermediate sprint after 33km of racing. That didn’t stop the aggression and no one had escaped at the end of a fast first hour that was done at an average speed of 43.6km/h.


The peloton splits up

Damien Monier (Bridgestone) launched what looked like a promising attack but after five riders had tried to join him, things were back together at the 56km mark. Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r) and Anthony Turgis (Cofidis) countered the move but they had no luck either. At the same time, riders started to get dropped from the peloton which was back on dry roads.


After Alo Jakin (Auber 93) had beaten Marc Fournier (FDJ) and Olivier Pardini (Wallonie) in the second intermediate sprint, the peloton changed direction and immediately it split into three parts in the crosswind. Ag2r and Fortuneo-Vital Concept were doing the damage but they could not prevent the first two groups from merging.


New attacks

As the pace went down, it all came back together and this opened the door for 15 riders to attack. The group was whittled down to a septet but after Nico Denz (AG2R La Mondiale), Jeremy Cornu, Guillaume Thevenot (Direct Energie), Pierrick Fedrigo, Brice Feillu (Fortunéo - Vital Concept), Anthony Maldonado (HP BTP-Auber 93) and Yann Guyot (Armee) had had a 10-second advantage, the group was brought back after 75km of racing.


The attacking continued but Fortuneo-Vital Concept controlled things firmly with some assistance from Ag2r. Things were still together when Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) won the third sprint ahead of Guillaume Martin (Wanty) and Feillu.


Five riders get clear

After more than two hours of fast racing, Anthony Perez (Cofidis) finally launched a successful attack. Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (FDJ) and Perrig Quemeneur (Direct Energie) were first to join him and later Feillu and Julien Berard (Ag2r) also made contact. As the peloton slowed down, the gap grew quickly and as they entered the final 100km, the leaders had an advantage of 2.15.


With 88km to go, the gap had gone out to 4.00 just as the climbing started and it was Feillu who beat Berard and Quemeneur in the first KOM sprint. In the peloton, Wanty took control and kept the gap stable at around 4 minutes until they upped the pace as they hit the final 70km. When Quemeneur beat Perez and Lecuisinier in the second KOM sprint, the gap had already been reduced to 3.20.


The chase gets organized

Delko lend Wanty a hand, bringing the gap down to 3.00 with 52km to go where Perez beat Quemeneur and Lecuisinier in the final intermediate sprint. Meanwhile, the chase was getting more organized as two riders from each of the teams Wanty, Delko and Armee were now trading pulls on the front. That paid off and as they crossed the line to start the first lap of the 8.7km finishing circuit, the escapees were only 1.30 ahead.


Four riders from both Delko and Armee were setting the pace and they had brought the gap down to 1.00 as they approached the end of the first lap. With 33km to go, the gap was down to around 30 seconds andthis prompted Feillu to make an attack. However, he had no success and the quintet was back together as they crossed the line again.


The attacking started in the peloton when Julien El Fares (Delko) took off. He was quickly joined by Romain Hardy (Cofidis) and Romain Le Roux (Armee). The trio managed to get a gap of 7 seconds at a point when the peloton was just 22 seconds behind the leaders but as Jauregui started to chase hard for Ag2r, it almost all came back together with 25km to go. Only Quemeneur tried to continue the offensive but he was brought back just moments later and it all came down to an uphill sprint.



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