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Having made it into the right 8-rider group in the finale, Jauregui joined forces with Delaplace and Jakin before beating his two companions in a 3-rider sprint to win the GP de la Somme

Photo: AG2R LA MONDIALE / Kramon

AG2R LA MONDIALE

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ANTHONY DELAPLACE

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03.05.2015 @ 18:41 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r) took a huge breakthrough victory when he emerged as the strongest in a hard, wet edition of the French one-day race Grand Prix de ls Somme. The Frenchman made it into an 8-rider group inside the final 20km and later attacked with Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne) and Alo Jakin (Auber 93) whom he beat in a 3-rider sprint.

 

With lots of great performances, Quentin Jauregui has long been regarded as a huge cyclo-cross talent but the 21-year-old Frenchman has also shown promises on the road. In 2012 he won the big junior race GP General Patton and his strong performances gave him the chance to ride as a stagiaire with the Argos-Shimano team in 2013.

 

It was still too early for Jauregui to move into the pro ranks and so he spent a good year in the Roubaix team in 2014 when he won a stage in the Rhone-Alpes Isere Tour and finished third in La Poly Normande where he was up against the pros. Ag2r quickly recognized the talent and so they offered him a two-year pro contract for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

 

Jauregui was set back by injury in the first part of the season and so he had a very bad start to his professional career. In fact he abandoned his first five races and clearly suffered on the Belgian cobbles.

 

However, the hard racing at the WorldTour level paid off and in the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe he finally started to show his talent. In stage 2, he came agonizingly close to a big win when he finished second behind Anthony Roux in a 3-rider sprint.

 

Today he again found himself in a similar situation and this time he made no mistake. In the Grand Prix de la Somme, he arrived at the finish with Anthony Delaplace and Alo Jakin and the youngster beat them in the final dash to the line to take a huge breakthrough victory.

 

The French one-day race has often been decided in a bunch sprint but today was a different affair. With rain and wind, it turned out to be a race of attrition which made it difficult for the sprint teams to control the race.

 

Inside the final 20km, Jauregui attacked and joined forces with his teammate Damien Gaudin, Jakin, Delaplace, Pierrick Fedrigo (Bretagne), Rudy Molard (Cofidis), Bryan Coquard (Europcar) and Julien Loubet (Marseille) to form a strong 8-rider group. With most of the big teams represented, they managed to staya way and were left to decide the race.

 

With Coquard being the overwhelming favourite, Ag2r had to use their numerical superiority to attack and that’s what they did when Jauregui took off inside the final 5km. He joined forces with Delaplace and Jakin and as Gaudin and Fedrigo could sit on in the chase group they made it to the finish where Jauregui sprinted to the win.

 

Many of the riders in today’s race will be back in action on Wednesday when one of the biggest French stage races kicks off. The 4 Days of Dunkirk usually offers 5 days of climbs, wind, sprints and rain and an in-form Jauregui may be ready to strike again.

 

A lumpy course

The 30th edition of the Grand Prix de la Somme was held on a 189.4km course that both started and finished in Amiens. It was littered with ups and downs and includes five categorized climbs, with the final challenge coming just 18.7km from the finish. Despite the lumpy terrain, however, the race had often been decided in a bunch sprint.

 

The riders had rainy conditions when they gathered in Amiens for the start and many riders dropped back to get a rain jacket already in the neutral zone. Joshua Haggerty (Champion System) was the only non-starter as the rest of the peloton got the race off to a fast start.

 

The break takes off

The combination of wind, rain and a fast pace created several splits in the bunch and several riders were distanced. Meanwhile, Alexis Gougeard (AG2R), Antoine Duchesne, Alexandre Pichot(Europcar), Jeremy Combaud, Fabien Canal (Armee), Rudy Barbier (Roubaix) and Loic  Pestiaux (Wallonie Bruxelles) managed to get clear and while several riders punctured, they fought hard to build an advantage.

 

When Gougeard beat Duchesne and Pichot  in the first intermediate sprint, they had a 20-second gap. Meanwhile, Pestiaux, Canal and Combaud were dropped from the lead group.

 

The peloton splits

The fast pace had split the peloton into 3 groups, with the first bunch being composed of just 30 riders. For a while, they rode 30 seconds behind the leaders before they finally slowed down and allowed a regrouping to take place.

 

As the sun came out, the gap went out to 1.40 after 25km of very fast racing but the peloton never really took their usual breather. Instead, the gap only grew slowly and while several riders fought back from punctures, the escapees could only extend it to 2.30 before Cofidis and Wallonie started to chase.

 

Lots of punctures

When Barbier led Pichot and Duchesne across the line at the top of the first climb, the gap had come down to 1.55 but now the escapees managed to extend their advantage. Despite Cofidis’ work, the gap went out to 2.30.

 

In the first 60, a total of 33 punctures were recorded and this left the mechanics busy while Cofidis kept the gap stable between 1.30 and 2.30. At this point, Barbier led Pichot and Duchesne over the top of the second climb.

 

Cofidis in control

Now the chase started to get organized as Europcar, Marseille and Wallonie joined forces with Cofidis. The combination of rain and speed meant that several riders abandoned, including Johan Le Bon (FDJ) and Maxime Daniel (Ag2r).

 

Cofidis again took complete control as the situation calmed down and for a while they kept the gap between 2.00 and 2.30. Meanwhile, the punctures continued and Cofidis suffered a lot of them.

 

A big crash

With 62km to go, the gap reached a maximum of 2.45 as Louis Verhelst (Cofidis) finished his job. This was the signal for Cofidis to up the pace and as they strung out the peloton, the gap came down to 1.35 while several riders got distanced.

 

Marseille now also started to work but their momentum was stopped when a big crash split the peloton, with Marc Sarreau, Yoann Offredo (FDJ) and Remy Di Gregorio (Marseille) being among the riders to go down. The group was now in four pieces and the first group was only 40 seconds behind the leaders.

 

Duchesne takes off

A regrouping took place while Duchesne attacked from the breakaway. With 32km to go, the Canadian had an advantage of 25 seconds while the first bunch was at 0.50 and the second peloton at 1.15.

 

With 25km to go, the four attackers found back together while Adrien Petit (Cofidis) was dropped from the peloton. Moments later Barbier was distanced from the front group.

 

The decisive move is formed

The peloton was now within shouting distance of the front trio and this opened the door for new attacks. After a 10-rider group had briefly formed, Gaudin, Jauregui, Fedrigo, Delaplace, Molard, Coquard, Loubet and Jakin got clear.

 

The octet entered the final 10km with a 20-second advantage over 15 chasers from which an FDJ and an Ag2r rider briefly tried to bridge the gap. They worked well together until they passed the 5km to go mark where Jauregui, Jakin and Delapalce attacked. The trio quickly got a 10-second advantage and when they had extended it to 20 seconds with 2km to go, it was clear that they would sprint for the win.

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