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"This morning, I was hoping to do the double. But I felt tired. I did not have very good feelings in the finale. The team worked well to protect me all day. I could save energy."

Photo: Etixx-QuickStep / Tim De Waele

AG2R LA MONDIALE

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ARTHUR VICHOT

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DANILO WYSS

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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DIRECT ENERGIE

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DROME CLASSIC

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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GUILLAUME LEVARLET

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HP - BTP AUBER 93

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IAM CYCLING

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JAN BAKELANTS

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JEROME COPPEL

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JOHNNY HOOGERLAND

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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NICK VAN DER LIJKE

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PETR VAKOC

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ROMAIN BARDET

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ROOMPOT-CHARLES

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOBIAS LUDVIGSSON

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29.02.2016 @ 00:07 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) proved his status as the in-form rider of the moment by claiming another impressive win at the Drome Classic just 24 hours after his victory at the Classic Sud-Ardeche. The Czech managed to follow Jan Bakelants (Ag2r) on the short 500m climb inside the final 2km and then beat the Belgian in a 2-rider sprint. Arthur Vichot (FDJ) won the sprint for third.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Petr Vakoc: This morning I was dreaming about becoming the first rider to do the double

Petr Vakoč put an end to his February campaign in a fantastic way, by becoming the first rider to take the victory in both Classic Sud-Ardèche and Drôme Classic, two hilly races that were very much to the Czech champion's liking. Once again, he delivered at the finish, after another excellent day of the team, which had our riders stay at the head of the peloton, controlling the gap of the four escapees: Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R), Jérémy Cornu (Direct Energie), Guillaume Levarlet (HP-BTP Auber 93) and Anthony Perez (Cofidis).

 

In the final 30 kilometers of the Drôme Classic (Livron – Livron, 203.8 km), the break was reabsorbed, and as soon as that happened, David De La Cruz accelerated from the pack and got a small gap together with Arnold Jeannesson (Cofidis) and Pierre-Roger Latour (AG2R). Unfortunately for de De La Cruz, it was to no avail, because they were caught on a climb by the chasing group, which included Gianluca Brambilla. The latter was also in the mix, reacting to an attack of Romain Bardet (AG2R) on the last hill, but they too were joined by others.

 

From the second group, Jan Bakelants (AG2R) used the final climb of the race as springboard and was quickly followed by Petr Vakoč. The two worked hard and caught the riders at the front, then passed right by them and fought for the victory in a two-man sprint, which saw Vakoc come out on top, taking back-to-back wins for the first time in his career. Arthur Vichot (FDJ) rounded out the podium, while another Etixx – Quick-Step rider, Pieter Serry, finished 5th.

 

“I am extremely happy to score another victory, 24 hours after the one in Classic Sud-Ardèche. It’s really incredible. Once again, the race was hard, with narrow roads, which forced us to be at all times at the front, fighting for a good position. When Bakelants attacked, I jumped immediately into his wheel and we managed to catch the group at the front and leave those riders behind. I knew the finale and it was very important to enter first in that last corner. Bakelants anticipated me and was the first to go into that corner, but I found the power to come back and outsprint him in the final 50 meters”, said Petr Vakoč before climbing to the podium.

 

The Czech rider, who is poised to make his Strade Bianche debut next week-end, continued: "If yesterday I was under pressure, today I was more relaxed. Everything went as planned and we were in the thick of the action during the whole race, with the likes of David, Pieter and Gianluca. The team was fantastic yet again. I'm very satisfied for becoming the first rider to do the Classic Sud-Ardèche – Drôme Classic double. These wins come after my hard training in the off-season. I worked relentlessly in order to be competitive in the first part of the season and I'm happy that it all paid off very early this year."


"This morning, I was hoping to do the double,” he told Directvelo. "But I felt tired. I did not have very good feelings in the finale. The team worked well to protect me all day. I could save energy. In the end, we had De La Cruz and Brambilla in the break and it allowed me to wait until the end of race.

 

“I was a little afraid to sprint against Jan (Bakelants) because he is fast. I wanted to take the last corner in the lead. But he passed me. I had enough strength to accelerate again and pass him. I was not sure of winning. 

 

”I like this kind of race, with steep and short climbs. I want to become a rider able to do well in the Ardennes. This is my big goal in the future. I do not know what role I will have this year because we have several riders capable of winning or to get great results in those races.”

 

Jan Bakelants: This weekend I have been the best climber

"Yesterday I had the feeling that I deserved better,” Jan Bakelants said. “Today is different.  Everything went as planned. We were present all day with Guillaume (Bonnafond), Pierre (Latour) and Romain (Bardet). They really did everything for me and I thank them. At the end of the race, even when the pack got back, I did not give up. I was beaten by one who was faster than me today. I accept it and I cannot have regrets. I've never done such a good season start since the beginning of my career. I'm really happy with my feelings. Now, the UCI WorldTour races arrive with Tirreno - Adriatico and I hope that the accumulated trust will enable me to get a good win.”

 

"The team worked well so there's disappointment. I should have been alone to win. But I reached the summit with Petr Vakoč, and he beat me,” he told Directvelo.

 

“On the climbs, I was the strongest this weekend. If today’s finish had been uphill, I would have won. But this was not the case ... I do not have any regrets. I did my own race without worrying about our opponents. 

 

“I thought the race was going in our favor on the Mur d’Allex. But unfortunately the peloton was able to return. I knew that Petr (Vakoc) was fastest in the sprint. His luck may have been to miss the last turn because suddenly I found myself in front of him.

 

“I'm happy with my start to the season even if I did not win today. I'll do Tirreno-Adriatico. It's a big goal for me, just like Milan-San Remo.”


After nine days of racing, Jan Bakelants has accumulated ten top 10, six top 5 and five podiums results.

 

Romain Bardet: I end this weekend with confidence for Paris-Nice
"Everyone did a good race, we were very offensive,” Romain Bardet said after his 8th place. “We were up against Vakoc who was simply stronger than us. I played my personal card in the finale but I was caught. From there, I decided to wait for Jan and sacrifice myself for him. We showed some great strength, we can be proud. That’s cycling the bike and it does not always work out. I leave the weekend with confidence for Paris – Nice."

 

Ag2r set sights on Paris-Nice after solid weekend in France

"We would have liked to win one of the two races of the weekend. Yesterday, we lacked a bit of foresight and success. Overall, the team works well, there is good cohesion, we try things and this is what we must remember. Paris-Nice remains our priority and we will finalize our selection tomorrow,” Ag2r sports director told Directvelo.

 

“Today Romain Bardet got caught out a bit as nobody wanted to ride with him. Jan Bakelants is also very fit. He will be atTirreno-Adricatico. When Jan attacked, Petr Vakoč watched him. He jumped on his wheel and he did not move until the finish. So there was nothing to do in the sprint. Petr has already demonstrated yesterday that he was very strong. 

 

“Guillaume Bonnafond was in the break so we do not have to bear the weight of the race like yesterday. We did not want to ride all day again. As for Pierre Latour, he attacked at the right time and was an important link for the team. 

 

“Finally, Samuel Dumoulin who won last year, is not good at all. He contracted a big flu a fortnight ago. He returned at the Tour in Provence but he was not going well. He is not competitive with his health problems.”
 

Arthur Vichot: This weekend I was not enough of a warrior

Arthur Vichot took third place and while his team was present during the first three quarters of the race, he did very well in the finale to get another place of honour.

 

Arnaud Courteille was in a first breakaway of seven riders that was eventually reduced to four, without him, and the FDJ team then applied the tactics to the letter.

 

"We preferred to take the race in hand on a complicated route,” explains sports director Thierry Bricaud. “We did not want to take risks. Everyone worked but Christian Eiking had not recovered from his efforts the previous day and Arthur Vichot and Alexandre Geniez were not great. We still worked to make it a sprint from a small group. The race did not slip away for us.”

 

Vichot and Geniez were in a good position before the last climb but could not go with Bakelants and Vakoc who had a slight advantage over a group of ten riders which was led home by Arthur Vichot.

 

"Given the circumstances of the race, we are happy with third place, ensures Thierry Bricaud. “We had the same spirit as the one which enabled us of win the Tour du Haut Var.”

 

"I told the team to ride from the start,”Vichot tells Directvelo. “We were all disappointed yesterday, we were not in our place. And given the very dangerous course, I told my teammates that it was best to stay in front. So we avoided the danger. This was a good solution in my opinion because when we took the race in hand this year, it has paid off. This is also the case today because even if there is not a victory, it remains a beautiful podium. We are not afraid to take the race in hand. 

 

“The sport is a constant battle with yourself. Today if I had listened to myself, I would have stopped after 30 kilometers of racing. I had to hang on, the others also find it hard. 

 

“I came here to win one of two events, but unfortunately the feelings were not that good this weekend. The course is difficult and it does not help. Third, it is not bad. I'm just a little disappointed to have been in a bad position at the bottom of the last climb. But I must be satisfied with third place. 

 

”I won a week ago at the Tour du Haut-Var and I made ​​a good start. I must continue to work. Unconsciously, perhaps I just took it easy after my victory in the Tour du Haut Var. I was perhaps less of a warrior and in races like these, you pay for that. I should have been aggressive in the first of the two races. We must learn from the weekend. 

 

“I will continue with Paris-Nice. These last two years I have been in the top 10. But with the course, it will be more difficult this season. I will focus on the stages. And then I have a goal Milan-San Remo in three weeks.”

 

Cofidis neo-pro tests himself in breakaway at La Drome Classic

Anthony Perez spent the day in the breakaway.

 

"We were three on the attack after around an hour and then Guillaume Levarlet joined us. I managed to get into the breakaway. We rode well and we were fortunate to have two experienced riders in both Guillaumes (Bonnafond and Levarlet),” he told Directvelo.

 

“After 170km, a small group caught us on the long ascent of the Col de la Grande limit. I was not able to follow them and so I ended up alone. 

 

“The condition gradually returns after my flu in the Etoile de Bessèges. I was still a little bad in the Tour La Provence and this is the logical result. It will not be easy all year anyway. 

 

”My next race will be the 3 Days of West Flanders. I have never raced in Flanders so it will be a new experience. I'm happy to participate. Then I will be at the Classic Loire Atlantique, Cholet-Pays de Loire and the Criterium International.”

 

Adam Yates with no regrets after second top 10 result in France

2015 Classica San Sebastian winner Adam Yates, has finished in the top ten for the second time in two days, placing sixth at La Drome Classic after another day of fast and aggressive racing in the Ardeche region of France.

 

The race was won by Czech champion Petr Vakoc (Etixx-Quickstep), claiming his second victory of the weekend at the Boucles Drome Ardeche.

 

Sports Director Dave McPartland was pleased with the team’s performace over the two races.

 

“We can be very satisfied with our performances here over the weekend, we raced solidly as a team and Adam (Yates) was unfortunate again today not to make it onto the podium.”

 

“It was another fast and quite stressful start to the race on small roads which settled down once the break had gotten away,” said McPartland “The peloton sat on for the first 100 kilometres or so and the race really got going for us with about 50 kilometres to go.”

 

In what was almost a carbon copy scenario of the previous day’s race Yates was in an excellent position approaching the finish with a familiar group of riders.

 

“We set Adam up really well going into the final climb and he was in a strong position, but just got edged out on the slight to descent to the finish line.

 

“The team were very controlled throughout and we can build on the positives from these races,” concluded McPartland.

 

"First I tried my luck on the penultimate climb, but I stopped my effort because we were only 2 or 3 riders so it was too difficult to stay away,” Yates told Directvelo. I attacked again on the penultimate bump. Unfortunately, we were too many, and nobody wanted to work. Many had teammates behind so we were caught about 5km from the finish.

 

“When Petr Vakoč and Jan Bakelants attacked on the last climb, I did not have enough strength to take their wheel. I crested the summit in third position and then I was caught by the group in the last corner so I finished 6th in the end. However, I am still happy because this is only my second race this season after the Classic Sud-Ardeche. I have no regrets.

 

”I completed a training camp with the team for three weeks in South Africa. There was a big difference in temperature. The entire Orica-GreenEdge team was present during these three weeks apart from those who had already raced in the Tour Down Under as they only had two weeks of training. 

 

“My next race will be on March 6 at the GP Industria & Artigianato-Larciano. I won its last edition on July 26, 2014. I will do Tirreno-Adriatico where I have great ambitions. Then I will have a break before participating in the GP Indurain and in the Tour of the Basque Country, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The rest of my program will be similar to last year until the Tour de France.”

 

Guillaume Levarlet sets sights on Criterium International after good ride in Drome

Guillaume Levarlet (Auber 93) was the final rider from the break to be caught.

 

"I enjoyed a revival. I had a little trouble getting back to the three leaders with the wind. However, they just waited for me, knowing that it is always easier with 4 than 3. Everyone rode well although the gap was never very consistent. In the finale, Guillaume Bonnafond was the first to attack and then I went. A big group came back to me and I cracked around 12 kilometers from the finish,” he told Directvelo.

 

“It was my 17th race day and I finished a big block. I will be back at the Classic Loire Atlantique and Cholet-Pays de Loire before taking part in the Criterium International where I hope to achieve something.”

 

Direct Energie neo-pro continues impressive season start in Drome

After his third place in Tour La Provence, Lilian Calmejane again impressed on the climbs, taking 10th place in the end.

 

"30 km from the finish, on the Col de la Grande Limite, I decided to attack. With several riders, I joined the front of the race just before the Cote de Roberts. We were 8-9 rider and a group of 5 riders got awat but Pierre Latour did not work. It was a shame. On the final climb, I was in 6th or 7th position at the top. I felt there was a great result to achieve. I was able to win. The key is that I have good legs. Now I’ll see what I can do at Paris-Nice,” he told Directvelo.

 

Aggressive Jerome Coppel emerges as one of the strongest in French weekend

Jerome Coppel (IAM) was again one of the strongest on the climbs.

 

"I attacked with 3-4 riders including Arnold Jeannesson and Lilian Calmejane. I wanted to anticipate. I did not wait until the last climbed that was more suited to puncheurs than me. Unfortunately, we were not working well together and we were caught 5km from the finish. I was not going to win the sprint,” he told Directvelo.

 

“I'm pretty satisfied with my weekend. I finished 7th yesterday which is a good result. The sensations are good and this is good news before Paris-Nice. "

 

Dutch neo-professional mixes it up with the best in Drome Classic

Team Giant-Alpecin lined up in France today at the Drôme Classic where Sam Omen finished in 18th place in the one-day race.

 

The team’s focus in the second part of the race was towards Tobias Ludvigsson and Sam Oomen who were both positioned together at the final climb of the day. At the base of the final ascent, they were both in a good position but Ludvigsson got dropped eventually and Oomen was unable to move up, and he finished in 18th place.

 

Coach Arthur van Dongen said after the race: “It was a hard final, the team only had Tobias and Sam in the first group with about 10km to go. Tobias lost contact and we only had Sam left with 35 riders in the last difficulty of the day.

 

“The performance from the team was much better today, we will analyse the details of the two races of the weekend and we will keep on improving for the upcoming races.”

 

Anonymous Roompot performance in French classics

In the southeast of France, six Roompot - Orange Peloton riders were in action in the Classics in Ardeche and Drome but did not play a significant role.

 

In the finales, Johnny Hoogerland was the best from the team. With 24th and 22nd, he underlined once again that he has had a good winter.

 

For Antwan Tolhoek, the weekend was disappointing. The young climber has suffered from a rib injury since a crash during training in and had to abandon both races.  Nick van der Lijke (37thand 53rd) is getting better. The Dutchman will have a training camp at the Sierra Nevada with Pieter Weening next week.

 

Danilo Wyss taken out by motorbike in Drome Classic

BMC Racing Team Sports Director Yvon Ledanois said the plan was to support Danilo Wyss in a sprint finish.

 

“Danilo was perfectly positioned and the team had worked really well for him all day. In the closing stages of the race he was involved in a crash with a motorbike, which ruined any chance of him going for the win.”

 

“Danilo is disappointed with the outcome, especially as this was a perfect race route for a rider of his strengths. Luckily he is ok and did not walk away with any injuries.”

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