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The young Swede powers up the climb in the 10.7km uphill time trial in Ales and beats Coppel by 4 seconds to take both the stage win and the overall win in the 5-day race

Photo: Team Giant-Shimano










09.02.2014 @ 16:54 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Shimano) proved that he is a big stage racer in the making when he won today's 10.7km uphill time trial that ended the Etoile de Besseges in France. The Swede held off Jerome Coppel (Cofidis) by 4 seconds and Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) by 11 seconds to take the stage win which was enough to take the overall lead away from Sander Helven (Topsport Vlaanderen) on the final day of the race.


On several occasions, Tobias Ludvigsson has proved that he is an excellent time trialist and that he has the potential to feature at the pointy end of the future stage races. Today he underlined his talent when he took his first big stage race win in the French Etoile de Besseges after winning the 10.7km uphill time trial that ended the 5-day race.


Ludvigsson had already shown his good condition by finishing 10th in yesterday's queen stage and his solid performances in the first stages meant that he was 21st on GC prior to the stage. Being one of the later starters, he faced a difficult task as he had to beat the time of 15.41 set by 2012 winner Jerome Coppel who had just knocked long-time leader Sonny Colbrelli out of the hot seat.


However, the Swede was on a roll today and he powered through the short course that ended with a climb with gradients of up to 16%. He stopped the clock in a time of 15.37 to not only take away the lead on the stage but move himself into the provisional overall lead.


Ludvigsson now faced a 20-minute wait to find out if his time would be good enough to take the win but as most of the remaining riders were sprinters, only a select few were expected to pose a threat. Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol) got close but he couldn't crack the 16-minute barrier.


Arthur Vichot (FDJ) was the rider to get closest but his time of 15.52 was 15 seconds too slow. John Degenkolb again proved his amazing condition by setting a time of 15.58 but he couldn't dethrone his Giant-Shimano teammate.


At the end, all eyes were on stage 1 winner and surprise leader Sander Helven whose abilities in the race against the clock were a bit unknown. However, it was quickly apparent that he would not be able to take home the lead and when he crossed the line, he had lost 1.10 to Ludvigsson.


Hence, Ludgvigsson could step onto the podium as both stage and overall winner, with the final podium being made up of the Swede, Coppel and Degenkolb who capitalized from bonus seconds to rocket himself up into 3rd place. With two riders on the podium, Giant-Shimano had a successful race despite Degenkolb's many near-misses in the road stages.


The French season continues on Wednesday when the 5-day Tour de Mediteraneen kicks off in the Souther part of the country.


A short, hilly time trial

The 5-day race came to an end with a 10.7km time trial in Ales that ended with a steep climb with gradients up to 16%. Despite Helven enjoying a solid lead, all was still to play for as the difficult stage had the potential to produce a major shake-up of the GC on the final day.


Justin Jules (La Pomme Marseille) was the first rider down the ramp, followed by Romain Guillemois (Europcar) and the duo coincidentally set the same time of 17.09. The first rider to go under the 17-minute barrier was Dimitri Le Boulch (BigMat) who crossed the line in 16.51.


Good time by Joeaar

The Frenchman led the race for some time until Thomas Rostollan (La Pomme Marseille) lowered the mark to 16.24. He was knocked out of the hot seat after 5 minutes by Gert Joeaar (Cofidis) who was 14 seconds faster.


Things were looking good for Joeaar who stayed in the lead for some time until Brice Feillu (Bretagne) showed his climbing skills by shaving another 4 seconds off the best time. Adrian Kurek (CCC) moved into 3rd while Cyril Gautier (Europcar) finished in the same time as Joeaar as did Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r).


Surprise from Colbrelli

Many were surprised when Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) who is mostly known as a sprinter, powered up the climb to stop the clock in 15.48 and the Italian now faced a long wait in the hot seat as he was the leader for most of the day. Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani), Romain Sicard (Europcar), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty), Bart De Clercq (Lotto Belisol), Bryan Nauleau (Europcar) all set solid times but no one was close to Colbrelli's.


All eyes were now on TT specialist Jeremy Roy (FDJ) but the Frenchman was unable to beat the time set by the Italian sprinter. He stopped the clock in 15.51, missing 3 seconds to take over the lead.


Coppel takes the lead

Davide Rebellin (CCC) set a good time of 16.14 but it was Coppel who finally denied Colbrelli the chance to take the stage win. The 2012 winner set a time of 15.41 to push the Italian down into 2nd and he held off the challenge of Maxime Monfort (Lotto Belisol) who could only manage 16.16.


A few moments later Ludvigsson powered up the climb to shave off another 4 seconds of the best time and with mostly sprinters still to come, it was clear that he would have a good shot at the stage win. He withstood the challenges from main rivals Gallopin, Vichot and Degenkolb and so the only remaining question was how stage 1 escapees Boris Dron (Wallonie), Benoit Jarrier (Bretagne) and Helven would fare.


Dron set a time of 16.39, Jarrier was the best with 16.13 and Helven could only manager 16.47, meaning that Ludvigsson was crowned winner of both the stage and the race. Coppel and Degenkolb completed the podium, the latter making it a big success for Giant-Shimano.



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