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Having escaped with Fedrigo on the final climb, Loubet showed that he is back at the top level by beating his companion in the sprint to win Paris-Camembert; Dumoulin won the bunch sprint a few seconds later

Photo: DPPI Press / Faugère-Curutchet

JULIEN LOUBET

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LA POMME MARSEILLE

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PARIS-CAMEMBERT

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PIERRICK FEDRIGO

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SAMUEL DUMOULIN

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05.04.2015 @ 19:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Former pro Julien Loubet (Marseille) proved that he still has the skills to mix it up with the best when he took a hugely impressive win in the old French one-day race Paris-Camembert. Having attacked with the in-form Pierrick Fedrigo (Bretagne) on the final climb, he managed to hold off the peloton before beating his companion on the two-rider sprint before Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r) led the bunch across the line just seconds later.

 

For several year, Julien Loubet was a loyal domestique at the Ag2r-La Mondiale team and he gave several indications of his talent during his time with the French tea. In 2008 he finished fourth overall in the Vuelta a Burgos and in 2010 he won a stage and finished third overall in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo.

 

After the 2011 season, however, his contract was not renewed and disappeared into anonymity in the French amateur scene. However, he showed signs of his talent last year when he won two stages and the overall at the Tour du Maroc and this was enough for the continental Marseille team to give him a chance.

 

This year Loubet has grabbed that opportunity with both hands as he has been one of the strongest in the French races in the early part of the season. He left a very strong impression in February where he even came close to a big win when he finished second behind Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne) in the Classic Sud-Ardeche.

 

Today he is excellent climbing form finally paid off when he won the 76th edition of the big French one-day race Paris-Camembert which was also the fifth round of the Coupe de France race series. Again he made the difference on the climbs and unlike in Sud-Ardeche, he wasn’t denied in the sprint when he arrived at the finish with a Bretagne rider.

 

Loubet had first shown his cards on the penultimate climb with 15km to go when he made it into a 7-rider group with Pierrick Fedrigo, Jan Bakelants (Ag2r), Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne), Leonardo Duque (Colombia), Arthur Vichot and Laurent Pichon (both FDJ). The group worked well together to keep the peloton at bay and they hit the final climb with 9km to go with an advantage of 40 seconds.

 

Here Loubet launched a big attack that only Fedrigo could follow and the pair worked excellently together to distance their chasers. However, Cofidis had started to chase in the peloton and this set the scene for a dramatic finale.

 

While the chasers were caught with less than 2km to go, Fedrigo and Loubet managed to stay clear and so they decided the race in a sprint. Here the Marseille rider turned out to be the fastest before Samuel Dumoulin won the bunch sprint for third. However, Fedrigo could console himself with the fact that he had taken the lead in the Coupe de France.

 

The French racing scene now moves to Sarthe for the four-day Circuit Cycliste Sarthe which starts on Tuesday. The next race in the Coupe de France is the sprint race Grand Prix Denain which takes place on April 16.

 

9 tough climbs

The 76th Paris-Camembert was held earlier than usual and brought the riders over a 202km course from Pont-Audemer to Vimoutiers. After a mostly flat first half, the riders reached the hilly finale where they were set to tackle no less than 9 categorized climbs. The final one summited just 9.5km from the finish and was followed by a fast descent and a shirt flat stretch to the finish.

 

There was one non-starter when the riders left Pont-Audemer under a cold and gray sky as Manuel Screiber (Vorarlberg) never made it to the start. With a tough 2km uphill section to start the race, the scene was set for an attacking and fast opening phase.

 

Baldo attacks from the gun

Nicolas Baldo (Vorarlberg) used the climb to get a 10-seconds advantage and he managed to increase it to 25 seconds. After 10km of racing, he was still 20 seconds ahead and was looking strong.

 

Robert Förster (Unitedhealthcare) and Michael Carbel Svendgaard (Cult) took off in pursuit and after a hard chase, they managed to join the leader. After 14km of racing, they were 25 seconds ahead of the peloton.

 

The gap reached more than 10 minutes

However, the main group was in no mood to let them go and so they continued their fast riding. This prompted Carbel to make a solo attack but when he was brought back, the peloton finally decided to slow down.

 

Two FDJ riders briefly tried to bridge the gap but they quickly decided to give up. Meanwhile, the gap grew quickly and with 164km to go, it was already 7.05 and it reached a maximum of 10.25 with 50km to go.

 

Europcar start to chase

Europcar now started to chase and this had a clear effect. Thomas Voeckler was working hard and with 125km to go, they had reduced the deficit to 7.40.

 

Europcar stopped their work and this again allowed the gap to grow. It reached more than 10 minutes before the peloton again started to chase.

 

Cofidis kick into action

Auber 93 hit the front and as they hit the first climb with 92km to go, the gap was 8.30. Carbel led Baldo and Förster over the top and the order was the same at the top of the second climb.

 

At this point, the gap was down to 6 minutes and now Cofidis had started to chase. When Carbel led Baldo and Förster over the top of the third climb, the gap was only 5 minutes.

 

The chase gets organized

Roubaix, Colombia and Topsport joined forces with Cofidis and now the escapees were losing ground quickly. When Carbel led Baldo and Förster over the top of the fourth climb with 50km to go, they were 2.20 ahead.

 

As they hit the fifth climb with an advantage of 1.35, Dieter Bouvry (Roubaix) and Stijn Steels (Topsport) started the attacking in the peloton. Carbel again led Baldo and Förster over the top before the chasers were caught.

 

Baldo takes off

With the gap down to 20 seconds, Förster decided to attack while FDJ started to chase. The front trio came back together before Carbel fell out of the group due to a mechanical.

 

Förster lost contact with Baldo while Julien El Fares (Roubaix) set off in pursuit. He was brought back when the peloton hit the next climb with 25km to go at a point when Baldo was still 12 seconds ahead.

 

A strong group gets clear

Baldo was the first at the top followed by Theo Vimpere (Auber 93) and Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ). Vimpere passed the lone leader but before they hit the Mur Champeaux, it was all back together.

 

While the main group started to splinter, Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne), Amaury Capiot (Topsport) and Leonardo Duque (Colombia) attacked but they were brought back on the Mur. At the top, Pierrick Fedrigo (Bretagne) led Arthur Vichot (FDJ) and Jan Bakelants (Ag2r) across the line and they were joined by Delaplace, Julien Loubet (Roubaux), Duque and Laurent Pichon (FDJ) on the descent.

 

Loubet and Fedrigo make their move

The septet was 25 seconds ahead with 15km to go and it was now Confidis doing the chase work. However, they lost ground and when they started the final 10km, the front group was 40 seconds ahead.

 

Loubet and Fedrigo managed to escape on the final climb after Loubet had attacked. Bakelants dropped off and he was picked up by the peloton.

 

With 5km to go, the front duo were 17 seconds ahead of their four chasers and 40 seconds ahead of the peloton. 3km later, the gaps were 15 and 22 seconds respectively. Just before the flamme rouge, Cofidis caught the chasers but the front duo managed to stay clear, with Loubet taking the win.

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