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Having chased back from a crash in the early part of the race, Mortensen rode a very aggressive finale to win Tro-Bro Leon in a sprint from a small group; Williams made it a 1-2 for ONE while Vachon completed the podium









17.04.2016 @ 18:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Martin Mortensen took the first big win for the ONE Pro Cycling team when he completed an excellent and aggressive performance by winning a sprint from a six-rider group at Tro-Bro Leon. After chasing back from a crash in the early part of the race, he launched a strong solo attack in the finale and after having been brought back, he still had enough left to come out on top in the sprint, with Peter Williams making it a memorable 1-2 for ONE. Florian Vachon (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) completed the podium.


At the start of the 2015 season, former cricket player Matt Prior entered cycling when he created the small ONE team in Great Britain. The Brit did nothing to hide his big plans which are to become the second British WorldTour team.


After one year at the continental level, the team took an important step by moving up to the pro continental ranks for 2016. However, the first time at the higher level has been testing and the team has failed to achieve any major results.


Today the team took its next major step when an impressively strong Martin Mortensen took the biggest win in the short history of the team as he came out on top in one of the most iconic races on the French calendar, Tro-Bro Leon that is held on Breton gravel roads and is known as the mini Paris-Roubaix. To make things even better, Peter Williams finished second on what was a memorable day for the small British team.


The 33rd edition of Tro-Bro Leon was held on a 203.3km course round the city of Lannilis. The main challenge was the 31.9km of gravel and dirt road that was spread throughout 25 sectors. The first one came at the 62.8km mark and from there, they arrieved in quick succession, with the longest distance between two consecutive sectors being just 14.1km. In the end, they did two laps of 4.8km that included a 700m dirt road sector just 2.1km from the flat finish.


It was great sunshine when the riders gathered in Lannilis for what would be a brutal start to the race. Lots of attacks were launched on the narrow roads which caused a big crash at the 3km mark. That didn’t stop the attacking but it was impossible for anyone to get clear.


After 62km of very fast racing, the peloton was still all together as they hit the first gravel sector and as usual many riders were hit by mechanicals. While his teammate Hayden McCormick made it into a 15-rider break at the 82km mark, Mortensen was involved in a crash and he would spent a long time chasing behind the peloton. He was still not back when the break was caught after 90km of racing.


Mortensen finally made the junction while his teammate Williams made it into a 14-rider group that had a 30-second advantage at the 108km mark. That move was brought back six kilometres later but ONE didn’t stop their attacking. They had Dion Smith in a group with Sylvain Chavanel that had a 30-second gap at the 119km mark. The group swelled to 21 riders but after 145km of extremely fast racing, it was all back together.


With 45km to go, the peloton hit another gravel sector where Thomas Rostollan (Armee) surged clear. Behind the strong Frenchman, a chase group was formed as Laurent Pichon (FDJ), Damien Gaudin, Sebastien Minard (Ag2r), Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis), Romain Combaud, Christophe Laborie (Delo), Yoann Gene, Alexandre Pichot (Direct Energie), McCormich, Williams (ONE), Benoit Jarrier, Florian Vachon (Fortuneo Vital Concept), Jordan Levasseur (Armee), Maxime Renault (Auber 93), Baptiste Planckaert and Olivier Chevalier (Wallonie) escaped. However, it was a short-lived move and after Gene and Vachon had taken off, they were brought back as they hit a gravel sector with 35km to go.


Chavanel accelerated hard for Direct Energie while Rostollan dug deep to maintain his 18-second advantage. However, the Frenchman failed to get clear and instead the FDJ pair of Pichon and Johan Le Bon made a move.


Vachon and Gene joined Rostollan and moments later Pichon and Le Bon also reached the front. Rostolland paid the price for his hard work and was quickly distanced.


ONE was now on the defensive and was forced to chase hard in the peloton which was 18 seconds behind with 32km to go. That’s when Mortensen kicked into action as he used a gravel sector to create a strong chase group with Minard, Williams, Levasseur, Mikhel Raim (Cycling Academy) and Planckaert. They caught the front quartet with 28km to go, meaning that 10 riders had gathered in front.


At this point, the peloton was not far behind but it was the break that gradually won the battle. Some riders tried to bridge across and it was Dimitri Claeys (Wanty) who had success before the break slowly started to increase the advantage which had gone out to 40 seconds with 23km to go.


Cofidis started to chase hard but were only able to keep the gap at 40 seconds. Auber 93 lent them a hand on a gravel sector but they were not getting any closer.


Inside the final 20km, the front group hit a gravel sector where Mortensen launched a very strong solo attack, opening an advantage of 10 seconds. Pichon and Vachon slowly made it back to the Dane while Claeys and Planckaert were chasing desperately further back. They were joined by the rest of the break after Levasseur had been dropped, meaning that seven riders had gathered behind the front trio.


At the first passage of the line with 9.6km to go, the gap was only 10 seconds while the peloton, led by Armee, was 20 seconds further adrift. With 6km to go, the trio had pushed it out to 12 seconds and they were working well together.


Mortensen refused to wait for the sprint and he made a big attack with 5km to go. He quickly got an advantage of 10 seconds and looked like he was riding to a solo win. However, Pichon and Vachon made it back with 2km to go.


With no cooperation in the front group, the chasers were getting closer and this prompted Mortensen to try again. He led the race under the flamme rouge but moments later Vachon made it back.


Mortensen and Vachon watched each other and this allowed Pichon to get back. It was a like a sprint match on the track and as they nearly came to a standstill, Williams, Gene, and Le Bon made the junction less than 500m from the finish.


Mortensen was unfazed by and launched a long sprint and no one had any response to his strong acceleration. He rode to a comfortable win while his teammate Williams held off Vachon to make it a memorable 1-2 for ONE.


Planckaert won the sprint of a four-rider group to take seventh, meaning that he extended his overall lead in the Coupe de France series. He now leads Samuel Dumoulin by 93 points. The next race in the series is La Roue Tourangelle on Sunday which is also the next major race in France.



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