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In a dynamic queen stage with constantly changing race situations, Lietaer emerges as the strongest from a 10-rider front group on the final climb of the day; Gerard takes the leader’s jersey off Teunissen’s shoulders

Photo: Sirotti








07.06.2014 @ 17:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Eliot Lietaer (Topsport Vlaanderen) took his first victory in a major professional race when he won today’s queen stage of the Boucles de la Mayenne. In a very dynamic race, a 10-rider group emerged in the finale and the young Belgian emerged as the strongest, beating his teammate Tom Van Asbroeck into second to make it a 1-2 for Topsport Vlaanderen. Stephane Rossetto (BigMat) finished 3RD and takes over the leader’s jersey from Mike Teunissen (Rabobank).


With several wins in some of the biggest races in the country, Topsport Vlaanderen has had an incredible season in France and today they continued their impressive success when youngster Eliot Lietaer won the queen stage of the Boucles de la Mayenne. To make things even better for the Belgian team, Tom Van Asbroeck, one of the team’s main stars, took second in a 1-2 for the squad.


Topsport Vlaanderen were not part of the early 6-rider breakaway that emerged after 78km of very fast racing but the Belgians had big plans for the day. When the peloton split in the second half of the race, the white-clad riders were some of the main animators.


Lietaer and KOM leader Serge Dewortelaer bridged across to the remnants of the early break and a little later, his teammate Van Asbroeck followed in a small chase group that also contained the Bretagne duo Brice Feillu and Arnaud Gerard and Johan Le Bon (FDJ). After a small selection, 10 riders emerged in the front and as they were almost a minute ahead of their nearest chasers, all was set to be decided by the front group on the Cote de Montaigu that led to the finish line.


Here Lietaer emerged as the strongest as he held off Van Asbroeck and Stephane Rossetto (BigMat) to take his first win in a major race. The victory brings the drought to an end for the youngster who is in just his third season as a professional.


Rossetto knew that he was one of the highest-placed rider in the front group and he battled valiantly to maximize his gains over the chasers and limit his losses to his companions in the front group. Crossing the line in 3rd, he did well enough to take the overall lead from Mike Teunissen who cracked in the hilly terrain and finished in a group further back.


Rossetto takes his lead into tomorrow’s final stage which again has some lumpy terrain but should be a lot easier than today’s. A sprint finish is a probable outcome but the first two road stages suggest that the racing will be very aggressive and the BigMat team face a tough ask to bring home the overall victory.


The queen stage

After yesterday’s flat stage, the Boucles de la Mayenne headed into hillier terrain for the second stage which is the hardest of the race. It brought the riders of 185km from Jublains to the top of the Cote de Montaigu and after a hilly first part, the race ended with four laps of 12km finishing circuit that contained the short, steep climb to the finish.


For the second day in a row, the riders took off in summerlike conditions and there was virtually no wind to split things up. The hilly terrain invited to attacks and this prompted a very aggressive and fast start to the race.


A fast start

Right from the gun, Morgan Lamoissin (Europcar) launched the first attack and he set the tone for the first part of the race. Thomas Sprengers (Topsport), Nicolas Baldo (Vorarlberg), Darijus Dzervus (Veranclassic), Benjamin Giraud (La Pomme), Sander Helven (Topsport), Louis Verhelst (Cofidis), Frederik Backaert (Wanty) and Serge Dewortelaer (Veranclassic) were some of the riders that had the most promising advantages during the first 70km of the race but the gap never exceeded more than 10 seconds.


As a result, things were still together at the first intermediate sprint where Anthony Geslin (FDJ) beat Giraud and overall leader Teunissen who scored a single bonus second. After that point, the attacking continued until the elastic finally snapped after 78km of racing.


The break is formed

Again Baldo was part of the action and this time he was joined by Thomas Vaubourzeix (La Pomme). The duo were chased down by Bryan Nauleau (Europcar), Nico Sijmens (Wanty), Jose Ragonessi (Ecuador) and Lubomir Petrus (BKCP) to form a 6-rider lead group but the peloton had still not given up. As the pace was still high, the group started to explode in a terrain that gradually got hillier


The peloton finally decided to take it a bit easier and after 100km of racing, the gap reached a maximum of 3.00. Behind, however, the bunch again accelerated and in the rolling terrain, it split in two.


The gap melts away

Due to the fierce pursuit between those two groups that were soon separated by a minute, the gap to the leaders melted away. 74km from the finish, it was just 30 seconds while Teunissen now seemed isolated in the splintering front group.


Petrus decided to take off on his own and stayed ahead for a little while. Behind, Topsport Vlaanderen were leading the first peloton but as they stopped their acceleration, the front group reformed and reopened their gap to 55 seconds.


Lietaer joins the front group

Lietaer and KOM leader Dewortelaer did an excellent to bridge the gap to the leaders while the gap reached 1.25 as they crested the summit of the Cote de Montaigu for the first time. Behind Nicola Dal Santo, Alfonso Fiorenza (both Nankang), Johan Le Bon (FDJ) and Haritz Orbe (Euskadi) took off in pursuit but hat move was doomed.


Baldo, Sijemns and Ragonessi were dropped from the front group while Jon Larrinaga (Euskadi) took off in pursuit. Meanwhile, Brice Feillu was doing a lot of damage in the main group that was 48 seconds behind at the second passage of the line.


A strong chase group

Larrinaga was brought back but refused to give up. He joined a later move with Le Bon, Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne), Stephane Rossetto (BigMat) and they started to reduce their deficit to the leaders.


Lietaer and Petrus left Vaubourzeix, Dewortelaer and Nauleau behind and while the latter two disappeared from the main action Vaubourzeix managed to hang onto the chase group that had dropped Larrinaga and been joined by Feillu, Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport) and Backaert. Meanwhile, the peloton had splintered to pieces and race leader Teunissen found himself in a group much further back.


Dumoulin leads the chase

The chasers caught the two leaders while Larrinaga and Nauleau also managed to rejoin the front. As the 11 leaders crossed the line to start the final lap, Rossetto and Feillu attacked while Lietaer set off in pursuit. 40 second behind, Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r) was working hard in the first bigger group.


Gerard, Le Bon, Van Asbroeck and Lietaer joined Feillu and Rossetto to make it a 6-rider front group. With 5km to go, they had extended their gap over the Dumoulin group to 55 seconds and it was now clear that the winner would come from the breakaway. On the final climb, Lietaer emerged as the strongest and as Van Asbroeck held off Rossetto in the battle for second, it was a 1-2 for Topsport Vlaanderen.



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