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Being the only rider to go below four minutes, Petit won the Tour de Luxembourg prologue, posting a time that was 2 seconds faster than Coquard’s; the Cofidis rider also takes the overall lead

Photo: A.S.O.








03.06.2015 @ 22:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Adrien Petit (Cofidis) took a surprise victory in the Tour de Luxembourg prologue when he was the only rider who managed to cover the hilly, technical 2.67km course in the Luxembourgish capital in less than four minutes. In a race with Frenchmen taking the first five spots, he beat Europcar sprinter Bryan Coquard and Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne) by three and four seconds respectively to take both the stage win and the first leader’s jersey in the five-day race.


When he turned professional, Adrien Petit was regarded as a potential future top sprinter. However, things haven’t turned out the way he wanted after he had created so lofty promises when he finished second behind compatriot Arnaud Demare at the U23 Worlds in 2011.


In his first years on the professional scene, Petit tried his hands as a sprinter but after several years of struggles he has realized that he doesn’t have the speed to challenge the best. Instead, he has turned his eyes towards the classics and a role in Nacer Bouhanni’s lead-out train and this has taken some pressure off his shoulders.


The lighter burden seems to have benefited Petit who won the Tro Bro Leon one-day race in 2014. Today he made use of his explosive climbing skills to win the traditional short 2.67km prologue in the Tour de Luxembourg.


The course is used for the opener of every edition of the five-day race and with its short distance, technical challenges and short, cobbled climb, it is perfectly suited to sprinters. Hence, it has been dominated by fast finishers, prologue specialists and puncheurs and it has been completely dominated by Jimmy Engoulvent who has won it on numerous occasions.


This year Engoulvent was hoping to add another win to his palmares but the Frenchman came up short against Petit. Being an early starter, he set the fastest time of 4.02 but that turned out not to be enough when his teammate Bryan Coquard went one second fast just 15 minutes later.


Coquard still had the taste of blood in his mouth when he was knocked out of the hot seat as Petit came flying across the line less than one minute later. Being just the third Cofidis rider to start the race, he shaved another three seconds off the best time to position himself firmly at the top of the leaderboard.


Petit now faced a long wait in the hot seat as more than half of the riders still hadn’t started their ride. However, none of them were able to beat the in-form Frenchman as Arnaud Gerard’s time of 4.02 was the best performance in the second half of the race but it was only good enough for third. Petit’s teammate Cyril Lemoine completed the French domination by taking fifth, with the best non-French rider being Ramon Sinkeldam (Giant-Alpecin) in sixth.


With the win, Petit also takes the first leader’s jersey with a 3-second advantage over Coquard. With bonus seconds on offer, the Europcar sprinter has his eyes on the yellow tunic in stage 1 which includes a few climbs along the way but has a flat finale that is perfectly suited to a bunch sprint.


A traditional opener

As it is the case every year, the Tour de Luxembourg kicked off with the traditional 2.67km prologue in the city of Luxembourg. The short stage was a technical affair with several turns and cobbles climb inside the final kilometre before the road flattened out for the final few hundred metres.


It was a nice evening in Luxembourg when Krisztian Lovassy (Differdange) rolled down the start ramp as the first rider to start the prologue. The Hungarian stopped the clock in 4.25 to set an early mark that allowed him to be the race leader for four minutes.


Best time for Lemoine

The first rider to go faster was Christian Mager (Cult) who stopped the clock in 4.16 and his time proved to be a bit harder to beat. Bert van Lerberghe (Topsport) and Jerome Cousin (Europcar) both missed out on a stint in the hot seat by less than a second before Lemoine took the lead by stopping the clock in 4.04.


With the course being suited to sprinters, it was no surprise that André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) slotted into second with a time of 4.07 before another sprinter, Russell Downing (Cult), took third with 4.12. However, it was Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen) ho got closest as his time of 4.06 was good enough for 2nd and confirmed the good condition he showed in the Tour of Belgium.


Petit takes the lead

Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) did well to slot into fourth with a time of 4.09 but all eyes already were on multiple winner Engoulvent. The Frenchman lived up to expectations as he went two seconds faster than Lemoine to take the lead.


Kenne De Ketele (Topsport Vlaanderen) confirmed his progress as a road rider by stopping the clock in 4.08 but it was Coquard who knocked his teammate Engoulvent out of the hot seat by posting a time of 4.01. However, he had barely finished his ride before Petit broke the four-minute barrier when he set a time of 3.58.


Gerard gets close

For a long time, no one was able to make it into the top 10 before Oliver Naesen (Topsport) slotted into 8th with a time of 4.08. However, it was Gerard who gave Petit a small scare but his time of 4.02 was only good enough for third.


Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka) slotted into ninth before Kristian Haugaard (Leopard) went two seconds faster. Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty) who is one of the overall favourites could only manage 4.10 and so he was five seconds slower than Sinkeldam who got close with a time of 4.05.


Theuns confirms good condition

Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) had to settle for 11th and instead it was Alex Kirsch (Cult) who made it into the top 10 with the seventh best time. Huub Duijn (Roompot) was fast with 4.08 before Edward Theuns (Topsport) continued his great start to the season by posting the eighth best time.


Last year’s fourth place finisher Rudy Molard (Cofidis) set himself up for a good performance overall by positing the 11th best time and now only two riders could deny Petit the win. Zico Waeytens (Giant-Alpecin) could only manage 4.10 and as Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Soudal) set the 9th best time, the Frenchman could step onto the podium as the overall leader of the race.



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