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“In the Tour of Britain I felt better every day. I hoped to win a stage there, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. But my focus is on Sunday, that’s when I want to be really good. Our French team will be very strong."

Photo: Lotto Soudal

GP DE WALLONIE

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
14.09.2016 @ 22:12 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) firmly established himself as one of the big favourites for Sunday’s European Championships by taking his first win since the 2015 Paris-Nice at the GP de Wallonie. After a powerful attack on the climb to the citadel in Namur, he held Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) off by the tiniest of margins before Jerome Baugnies (Wanty) won the sprint for third.

 

We have gathered a few reactions.

 

Victorious Tony Gallopin: I want to be at my best on Sunday

On penultimate next climb a new series of attacks wed out the peloton and seven riders managed to get away. Tony Gallopin represented Lotto Soudal in the front group. They stayed away until the foot of the Côte de la Citadelle de Namur. Tiesj Benoot and Tony Gallopin rode attentively at the front of the peloton and when several riders attacked, Gallopin reacted. He set a high pace and dropped the other riders. It looked like he was riding solo to the finish line, but with fifty metres to go, Vakoc came really close. In the sprint the Frenchman of Lotto Soudal won just ahead of the Czech rider. This victory is the first one for Gallopin in 2016.

 

Tony Gallopin said: 

 

“The team did a perfect job today. All day long we were positioned on the first rows of the peloton chasing down the front group. They had taken control of the race and chased down the strong front group. They positioned me perfectly for the penultimate climb. The attack on the second last climb of the race was a good starting point. We were with seven good riders and we managed to create a small gap pretty fast. Bakelants was very good today. He was the one that set up the breakaway and his teammate Pozzovivo was among us as well. Also Pozzovivo was strong. We worked together but it wasn’t perfect. That’s the reason why we were reeled in at the foot of the citadel.

 

”When we were caught by the peloton I had a moment to recover. I found my own pace and I moved up to the fifteenth position. The further we went uphill, the better I felt and the better I was positioned in the bunch. At a certain moment I felt ready to attack once again and I gave everything I had. Two years ago I finished second on the citadel. I couldn’t take the victory home. This climb suits me very well. In the last fifty metres Vakoc came really close and the stress was getting to me. Fortunately I went fast enough to bring home the victory.

 

"I was disappointed when we were caught, but then I attacked again at the right time. The last kilometer was terrible.
 

“The team gave me permission to change my program because I wanted to focus on the European Championships that are coming up this Sunday. That’s why I didn’t participate in the races in Canada. Instead I chose to ride the Tour of Britain before I came here for the Grand Prix de Wallonie. It feels really good to know that the team trusts me.

 

“In the Tour of Britain I felt better every day. I hoped to win a stage there, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. But my focus is on Sunday, that’s when I want to be really good. Our French team will be very strong.

 

"This race is close to my heart, the Citadel suits me. Two years ago I was up against a very strong Van Avermaet, who beat me in the sprint. I didn’t want to wait for sprint today, so I attacked. I was very nervous in the last 500 meters because of Vakoc who was very strong. "

 

Disappointed Vakoc: At least it gives me confidence for the European Championships

On Wednesday, Petr Vakoč became the first Czech rider to podium in the Grand Prix de Wallonie (Beaufays – Namur, 205.5 kilometers), a result even more impressive considering he lined up at the start less than three days after completing the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal. Just as in Canada, the 24-year-old was one of the main protagonists, attacking on the Tienne aux Pierres climb, with around 20 kilometers left, together with six other riders, after Etixx – Quick-Step made sure of neutralizing the day's escape.

 

The group quickly established a 25-second lead which at one point looked to be substantial enough for the riders up front to make it as they were preparing to hit the spectacular ascent of Citadelle de Namur (6% average gradient), but the furious pack came back just at the foot of the final ascent of the seven jammed on the course and things got reshuffled immediately. A few men tried to get away, but the status quo was maintained, as the peloton tackled the cobbled part of the 2km climb.

 

With 1200 meters to go, Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) accelerated and put some daylight between him and the bunch, as he entered in the final kilometer of the race. That was the point that saw Petr Vakoč make another move and the Czech rider – winner of Classic Sud Ardèche, Drôme Classic and Brabantse Pijl in 2016 – displayed incredible stamina, putting in an incredible effort and unleashing a huge and fierce attack to come roaring back.

 

In one of the most thrilling finishes of the season, Vakoč closed the gap on his French opponent, almost catching him on the line, but in the end concluded second by the narrowest of margins, for Etixx – Quick-Step's 60th podium of the year, which comes in addition to the 50 victories the team scored across 31 different races.

 

"I am very disappointed, because the opportunity to take the victory was there. Grand Prix de Wallonie is a race I really like, suited to my characteristics and I was hoping of winning it. The team did an excellent job throughout the day, protecting and always keeping me out of the wind", said Vakoč, who went on to make an analysis of the hectic last kilometers:

 

"When Tony attacked, I was a little bit boxed in and couldn't follow him immediately, so I lost the momentum. Once I found the space to go, I took off, gained ground back, but couldn't pass him on the line, so congrats to him. It's a pity, because the form was there, but on the other hand it motivates me even more for the European Championships in Bretagne, where I am ready to give 100%, just as I did today.

 

"I made ​​a small mistake in not following the attack of Tony Gallopin one kilometer from the finish. I looked at the other riders. No one seemed to react and I decided to take the initiative. I was riding very fast and came back strong. It's a shame not to win but I'm reassured about my shape before the European Championships. Naturally, I have good memories of this competition since I finished second in the U23 category three years ago.”
 

Hesitations costly for strong Baugnies in GP de Wallonie

The team Wanty-Groupe Gobert took part this Wednesday in the Grand Prix de Wallonie - a 1.1 race between Beaufays and Chaudfontaine over 205.5 kilometres. Jérôme Baugnies finished as third on the podium. 

"It is a good result for the team. I could get a better result but it remains positive for the Tour de l'Eurométropole and Binche-Chimay-Binche", Jérôme Baugnies explained. 

 

"The weather made ​​the race difficult. I was designated to contest the final. The tactic to wait until the bottom of the Citadel was right. Unfortunately, I waited too long. In the last 200 meters, I was really fast. It is a disappointment to be third. Other opportunities will soon come in Binche and the Eurometropole Tour."

The team lined up with Gaëtan Bille, Dimitri Claeys, Thomas Degand, Guillaume Martin, Frederik Backaert, Kevin Van Melsen, Xandro Meurisse and Jérôme Baugnies. A breakaway of nine riders got quickly clear and was caught with 25 kilometres to go. 

The leaders attacked a first time on the Tienne aux Pierres. Seven riders went on the offensive - without any rider of Wanty-Groupe Gobert. Our team had to chase alone.

 

"It was a dangerous group. We knew that we had to ride at the front of the peloton."

Finally it was all back together at the bottom of the Citadelle de Namur. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) put a decisive move with one kilometre to go. Jérôme Baugnies came very close and got the third place.

 

"I waited too long. I wanted to play everything on one move. I think it was the right strategy but it didn't work out."

Sports director Hilaire Van der Schueren is very happy with this race.

 

"The team was in danger and had a good reaction. Jérôme Baugnies was very strong. He waited too much. He could have won the race."

 

Stölting with two riders in the top 10 Wallonie

Team Stölting Service Group showed a great team performance at the GP de Wallonie. Christian Mager followed a move in the final, while Rasmus Guldhammer and Fabian Wegmann were among the best riders on the finishing climb and placed 8th and 10th.

 

The 205.5 km from Beaufays to Namur were a continuous up-and-down with seven categorised climbs. Nine escapees got an advantage of almost six minustes, but the peloton had closed the gap to 1:30 minutes with 40 km to go.

 

The break was caught on the Côte de Lustin. Here, Christian Mager followed an attack by Pieter Weening (Roompot – Oranje Peloton), but the race came back together after a short time. Several riders attacked on the next climb, the Tienne aux Pierres at 18 km from the finish, and a strong group of seven riders formed, keeping a gap of around 20 seconds on the peloton.

 

But this group was caught again at the foot of the finishing climb, and some 40 riders started the last 3 km together. Rasmus Guldhammer and Fabian Wegmann were among the best, but they couldn’t counter the move by Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal). The Frenchman took the win; Guldhammer finished in 8th place while Wegmann rounded out a good race with 10th place.

 

Sports Director Jochen Hahn was happy with how the race went: “The riders raced very well as a team. We still had all seven riders in the peloton at 30 km to go, they protected Christian, Rasmus, and Fabian all the way. And with two riders in the top-10 we take home a good result.”

 

Hivert back on form at GP de Wallonie

It was a beautiful race for Fortuneo-Vital Concept. Sports director Sébastien Hinault asked his riders not to join the break to save forces for the final. The situation was almost perfect in the final group of twenty riders as the team had Anthony Delaplace Jonathan Hivert. The former first attacked on the cobbles of the Citadel of Namur. Jonathan Hivert finished ninth. 

 

"We did not miss much with Jonathan to get a big result," commented Sébastien Hinault at the finish.

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