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"On the home straight, I waited really long before I pushed hard. In the end I just got Prosev by a few millimetres. I did not expect that at all today. Therefore it is even more satisfying now."

Photo: A.S.O.


06.10.2016 @ 19:40 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) again confirmed his status as a dangerous outsider for both Paris-Tours and the World Championships when he defended his title at the traditional warm-up race to the final big French classic at Paris-Bourges. On a windy day in France, the Irishman made it into a 70-rider peloton that sprinted for the win and finally beat Alexander Porsev (Katusha) in a photo finish. Rudy Barbier (Roubaix Lille Metropole) completed the podium.


We have gathered a few reactions.


Bennett: After my illness, I didn’t expect this

After taking the second stage of the Giro della Toscana about a week ago, Sam Bennett had to skip some races due to a bronchitis, a setback in his build up to the World Championships in Doha. But today he came back with an impressive win.


BORA – ARGON 18 worked on the front of the peloton to position Sam Bennett well, which did pay off when the peloton split in two with more than 100km to go. After the remaining two breakaway riders were caught, everything was set for a bunch sprint of about 60 riders. BORA – ARGON 18 was still present in this group with Zak Dempster and Scott Thwaites,so Sam Bennett had his key lead-out riders with him. This proved to be the key to success and Sam Bennett repeated his victory from last year after a photo finish.


“It was really a hard race today. I was sick for 6 days and after the start of the race I didn’t feel good. But I knew it would be like that today and I also knew the course from last year, so we were always up front when the crosswind did play a role. Silvio (Herklotz) and Pfingsti (Christoph Pfingsten) really worked a lot throughout the day for me. In the end I still had Zak (Dempster) and Scott (Thwaites) who did a perfect job as well. Two corners before the finish I was on the wheel of Bouhanni. Coquard was also there and tried to push him a little, both had to brake and I came around them on the outside. On the home straight, I waited really long before I pushed hard. In the end I just got Prosev by a few millimetres. I did not expect that at all today. Therefore it is even more satisfying now,” Bennett said.


"I'm really pleased. This is my second victory here! I love the city,” he told Directvelo. “I was sick all week even though it was a little better the day before yesterday and yesterday especially. The team protected me well and I decided to take the wheel of Katusha. I was well-placed after the last corner. In the final stretch, I was in the wheel of Porsev but I thought 'wait, wait.’ Since I was not great today, I had no room for error. Finally it was very close but I had the impression of having won at the line. I did not raise my arms but I thought I was


Porsev: I was just missing one mm

The one-day Paris-Bourges took place on Thursday in France and proved to be a good late-season race for Team KATUSHA’s Aleksandr Porsev, who sprinted in for second place on the 190,3 km course from Gien to Bourges in the 66-th edition of the race.


”Of course, I am a bit disappointed, because the victory was so close. I saw the picture of photo finish, looks like it was just 1 millimeter between us. Nothing to do. It was a good race for me, I felt pretty well and the team was really strong. My teammates provided me a great support, especially in the end. I thank the team for this. In the final Marco and Jacopo did a great lead-out, we entered the last corned on the first position, so I started my sprint when I wanted to do it. I did my best and missed just 1 mm. Anyway, I am looking forward to my next race Paris – Tours and the Worlds,” said Aleksandr Porsev.


- I am very happy with the team and the way our guys did this race. KATUSHA looked strong today. We decided to work for Aleksandr Porsev - he is in a good shape and has proved it today,” said a pleased sports director Gennady Mikhaylov.


”Marco Haller did a strong lead-out with 1 km to go while Jacopo Guarnieri provided Alexander the last wheel. Porsev did a good sprint and in the first moments we though he had won – everything was so close in the final. But the photo finish showed it was Bennett who won the race. We can be happy with this race and this should bring more confidence to Aleksandr before the World Championships,” said sports director Gennady Mikhaylov.


In the last half of the race the peloton split into two parts with a selection of some 50 riders in the front group. Team KATUSHA had five riders represented, making it a good situation for the race final. A break of two riders was finally brought back with 13 km to go, with the teams of the sprinters then preparing for a group sprint. Maxim Belkov and Sergey Lagutin worked hard to protect the position of Porsev before Haller and then Guarnieri took over their sprint-train duties for the finish. Guarnieri’s good work gave him a fifth place finish on the day. 


Third-placed Barbier: I was in front five metres after the line

Rudy Barbier (Roubaix Lille Métropole finished third. He told Directvelo: 


"I'm disappointed because it is was decided in a photo finish. It sucks for the team that worked very well. I would have liked to offer them a last victory before starting at AG2R La Mondiale. Five meters after the line I was ahead but it was too late. There was a slightly narrowing before the fianal 500 meters. I had to brake a little bit and that's probably where I lost the race. A podium is not bad but I could have done better. It was decided by the details. I missed the final details.


“I'm still happy to be there late in the season, it proves that I was consistent. After my crash in Tour du Poitou-Charentes with my brother, we showed that we have managed to regroup.


“The Worlds? I knew it would be complicated as a Continental rider. I did not expect it but I would have liked to go. In hindsight, there is not much to regret.”

Sarreau: I had all the cards to win Paris-Bourges

Marc Sarreau (FDJ) finished fourth. He told Directvelo:


"It was a big fight for position. We knew we had to be in the left side of the road after the red kite. I was positioned behind the Katusha and Laporte. I had to slow down a bit to start my sprint. I do not have too many references because I usually sprint to start or position Arnaud Démare. I found myself blocked by Rudy (Barbier) who launched his sprint before me on the right-hand side of road. It was too late when I could do my effort.


“I am disappointed to miss the podium at home. I came to win. I was in a good position, I had all the cards in hand to win but it did not work out. The legs were good. I hope to do a good job in Paris-Tours for Arnaud (Démare) because it will be the same distance in the Worlds. It will be a good dress rehearsal. " 

Bouhanni and Coquard taken out by near-crash in Paris-Bourges

Nacer Bouhanni and Bryan Coquard were two of the biggest favourites. However, both were taken out of contention when Bouhanni nearly crashed in the final turn when Coquard was on his wheel.


“On the wheel of @BouhanniNacer with 600m to go at @PGienBourges. On Sunday final race,” Coquard tweeted.


Bouhanni quickly replied.


“It was either that or the sidewalk! thank the rider that who pushed @LAPORTEChristop from the inside,” he wrote.


Near-crash for Bouhanni destroys sprint for Sbaragli in Bourges

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka relished the higher pace as the African Team did well to maneuver their sprinters into position at the key points of the race. The first significant split came with 50km to go when Cofidis and Direct Energie where leading the peloton. Only 80 riders would be able to stay in contention after this tough section and the African Team were in good stead with Kristian Sbaragli, Ryan Gibbons, Youcef Reguigui, Adrien Niyonshuti and Johann van Zyl all pushing on in the lead group.


With the French teams driving the pace on home soil, the break was caught well before the final and all the other squads were left to jockey for position behind the likes of Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie). Bouhanni (Cofidis) was undoubtedly the race favourite and the battle for his wheel with 2km to go was fierce, but it was a battle the Italian had won.


Under the 1km to go kite Sbaragli was poised to come off the wheel of Bouhanni but the Frenchman misjudged the final corner and led his followers, including Sbaragli astray. Katusha then found themselves in the driving seat for the last 500m but it was Bennett who came off the wheels of the Russian team to take the win. While Bouhanni gave up on the sprint finish Sbaragli kept on going and would end with 9th place. The young stagiaire sprinter Gibbons, did well to be in the mix on a tough day to cross the line 16th.


Kristian Sbaragli said:


”I was in a really good position with 700m to go, riding on the wheel of Bouhanni. He took the final corner too fast though and ended up going straight. I had to brake and then try to speed up again but so close to the finish it was impossible to get back up to speed. So today I lost the chance for a podium result.”


Frustrated McLay: I had super legs

Fortuneo-Vital Concept stagiaire Elie Gesbert has once again demonstrated his toughness by spending a day in the breakaway. After his long escape in the Tour de Vendee, he was caught 15km from the finish. The team then worked for Dan McLay in the spring but he could only manage 70th after his teammates Armindo Fonseca and Yauheni Hutarovich had been caught on the crosswinds..


McLay told Directvelo.

"I really had super legs in the final. While Armindo (Fonseca) and Yauheni (Hutarovich) were in the second group, I was still led out well by Vegard (Breen) and PLP (Pierre-Luc Périchon). But there was a sharp turn just before the finish line and everything bunched up. I was riding at 15 km/h and it was over. I was not the only one to get trapped since Bouhanni was also there. It's a shame because I could have done something today.”

Gesbert said:


"It's true, I was in the breakaway today. I made an attack and it turned out that it was the right one. It was interesting. It allowed us not to do the chase work for Dan. I had good legs and together with Quentin Jauregui I got far. At kilometer 150, we said that if we could arrive in the final 40km with 1.30 it was possible. But the peloton only gave us 50 seconds. It was stressful. We always insisted even if we knew that the finale was not favorable. Finally, we were caught 10 kilometers from the finish. It's a shame that it went wrong for Dan. There was a small problem in the turn with 600m to go and the first fifteen got a gap.


"170 kilometers in front hurts the legs but it's also fun. I had a lovely day at the front. In a five-rider group, things went well. From the beginning of the break, we said we were going to go full gas from kilometer 110, after the KOM. I have not specifically gone for the KOMs or the intermediate sprints. In the end, we did a nice number with Quentin (Jauregui) and frankly, I almost thought it was possible.

“The season is not over yet because I will go to Sunday’s Paris-Tours. I've never done such a long race so it will be a new experience. It is not a profile for me but it's really not bad to go there to discover it.”

Sports director Denis Leproux added:


"We missed an opportunity. Dan was very well placed for the final sprint, his teammates did a great job. But to avoid an a crash, our sprinter and fifteen other riders had to swerve and could not contest the sprint. Dan is more disappointed for his teammates than himself because they had worked hard. The result does not reflect the work.”



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