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"But I was able to count on Lilian (Calmejane) returning. He helped me to close the gap to the most dangerous riders. Without that, I think it would have been over. I would not have been in yellow tonight."

Photo: Sirotti


























25.02.2016 @ 20:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) confirmed that he is back in form after his crash at the Tour de San Luis by claiming his first European win of the 2016 season on the final stage of Tour La Provence. The Colombian was clearly the fastest in the reduced bunch sprint after an aggressive finale as he held off Danilo Wyss (BMC) and Romain Feillu (Auber 93) by a big margin. Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) responded to all attacks and took the overall victory with Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) in second and his teammate Lilian Calmejane in third.


We have gathered several reactions.


Thomas Voecker: Without my neo-pro teammate, I would have lost the jersey

"I was not having a great day,” Thomas Voeckler told Directvelo. “It was difficult to control the entire stage. The guys did a great job, each at a specific time. In the end, I was not able to follow the attacks. But I was able to count on Lilian (Calmejane) returning. He helped me to close the gap to the most dangerous riders. Without that, I think it would have been over. I would not have been in yellow tonight. This is a win for the team. Lilian keeps 3rd place. It takes guts to help and end up in that place. Hats off to him and to the others. 


“Everything works well in the team. We have had a great start to the season. When it starts well, there is a positive spiral. We will make the balance in October but what is taken cannot be taken away. 


“I hope that in 30-40 years I will be a guest of honor lie Poupou. It means that the race has survived. To win  the stage on the first day was a relief. 


“I plan to do both races this weekend in Drôme Ardèche but that's fine in the context of Paris-Nice. I expect to miss some freshness. There was no pressure anyway. Lilian has good legs. We do not base our start to the season on one race and this will allow us to ride run more freely." 


Direct Energie neo-pro takes impressive third place overall in Provence

"The first step has decided the GC,” Lilian Calmejane told Diretvelo. “We were fortunate to have Thomas in front on that day. We just had to be careful behind. I could go with the best and cover the moves. I annoyed the top riders. Thomas was able to win the race and I finished third...


“Then it was easier then to handle with two riders well-placed overall. We managed to keep the situation under control today. No one gave ​​us any gifts, especially not Etixx-Quick Step. Everyone had their role and we are proud. Everyone did their job. 


“If I have legs like this all season, my turn will come. The best neo-pros have won races at this in recent years, I think of Alexis Gougeard, so I thought why not me. I'm usually very early in the season. I expected to have good feelings but not necessarily to make results like these." 


Fernando Gaviria: Now I am ready for the Track World Championships

One day after gifting the victory to teammate Davide Martinelli, Fernando Gaviria came first to the line and scored his second success of the season, following the one he got in January, at the Tour de San Luis. As was the case in Argentina, also here the 21-year-old won by a comfortable margin, this time against Danilo Wyss (BMC) and Romain Feillu (BTP-Auber 93). The win he nabbed in Marseille will more than sure boost his confidence ahead of the Track World Championships, which he’s going to ride next week.

"It was a very complicated stage,” he told Directvelo. “It was very fast from the start and it was a steep climb. But I was getting better and better with every kilometer. Thomas Voeckler was under attack, especially by the riders of our team like Petr Vakoč and Pieter Serry. Then my teammates rode for me in the end to set up a bunch sprint. 


“This is my first win of the year in Europe. All victories are beautiful. It is a race of category 2.1. I do not really have any specific goal this year except that I want to win and do well in all races. The team has won many races since the beginning of the season. Everything goes well for Etixx-Quick Step and me.”

“It was a nice way to end a really hard stage. With 25 kilometers to go, a couple of riders, including Petr [Vakoc], attacked in order to shake up the GC. At that moment I was sitting at the back of the peloton, waiting to see how things will unfold. Unfortunately for Petr, he was caught, which meant I came to the front, and helped by the guys, who rode hard and protected me, managed to take the win. This victory bodes well for the Track Worlds, in London. When I left Colombia, I didn’t know where I was with my condition, but in this race I got a satisfying answer. I’m eager to take it to the track and see what happens there. After the Worlds, I will return to the road and continue working hard, to help the team get other good results”, said a thrilled Fernando Gaviria at the end of Thursday’s stage.

Second-placed Petr Vakoč: I thought I was able to take Voeckler’s jersey

The inaugural edition of the race proved to be a good one also for Petr Vakoc, who finished second in the general classification, just seven seconds behind Thomas Voeckler, and took home the best young riders jersey, repeating the feat of last week’s Tour du Haut Var. Besides the Czech champion, also Pieter Serry concluded in the upper part of the rankings, coming home fourth and netting his best result of the season. To top it off, Gaviria won the points jersey and Etixx – Quick-Step was victorious in the teams standings, making La Provence a big success.

"I tried to attack Thomas Voeckler on the Col de l’Espigoulier,” he told Directvelo. “I tried to join the leading group but I did not succeed. Later Gaviria was not too far away so we worked with Direct Energie. 


“We planned to ride for Fernando but as there are many attacks I followed them. I found myself in a group with Bakelants and Craddock. For a moment I thought we could make it and that I could win the GC. But the group returned six kilometers from the finish. Approaching the sprint, the team rode for Fernando. It's still a great day, we are happy to win a second stage. Personally, I'm happy to finish second overall." 


Maxime Bouet: It was a 99% successful race for Etixx-QuickStep

Maxime Bouet in 12th overall was another top contender for Etixx-QuickStep.


"The goal was to win the general classification,” he told Directvelo.” We still won two stages so with the second place of Petr Vakoč, we will say that the race is 99% successful (laughs). I had looked at the last few kilometers behind the scooter to my stepfather. I knew there was a chance to attack. Vakoc tried, Voeckler almost lost the Tour but Calmejane clearly helped him." 


Etixx-QuickStep look back on hugely successful Tour de Provence
At the finish in Marseille, sport director Brian Holm looked back on the three-day race: “We conclude the week with two stage wins out of three, two distinctive jerseys and Petr Vakoc as runner-up. Petr missed out on the GC win for a handful of seconds, but he lost to a great Voeckler. The difference between winning and losing is very small, we could see that, but I’m sure he’ll take a victory soon, as he is very consistent. What’s very important is that the entire team performed here and was really strong.”


Strong BMC team delivers Danilo Wyss to second place in Provence

Danilo Wyss crossed the line in second place in today’s sprint finish on stage 3 of the Tour La Provence, behind stage winner Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-Quick Step).


Wyss came from behind to edge out Romain Feillu (HP BTP – Auber93) for second place in the bunch sprint.


The 173km stage from La Ciotat to Marseille capped off a tough three days of racing, Wyss said.


“It was a really hard day. We had a tough start with some big mountains and it was really fast. The final was also hard with some small climbs and the GC guys were trying to attack. We had five guys in a group of around 25 riders so we tried to work to keep our group away from the main peloton.”


“Everyone worked well for me and I was able to do a good sprint. They launched the sprint really early and there was some head wind so I was waiting to go at the last moment.”


“It was good preparation here with three days of racing. It was hard and it was good training for Paris-Nice which is my next big objective.”


Alessandro De Marchi crossed the line in Wyss’ group to remain in sixth place on the General Classification, 12 seconds behind race winner Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie).


BMC Racing Team Sports Director Yvon Ledanois said it was a solid three days of racing at the inaugural Tour La Provence.


“The plan today was always to try for the sprint with Danilo. In the last 25km we had really good numbers in the small group that went away and they all worked for Danilo in the sprint. There was a good level of competition at the race so we are happy.”


“Danilo has good form going into Paris-Nice and Alessandro as well going into Tirreno-Adriatico. For us it was a good race. With Classic Sud Ardeche and La Drome Classic this weekend and then Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico the week after, I think it was good timing to have a race of this kind in the lead up to the next big objectives.”


After a rest day tomorrow, BMC Racing Team will continue to race on French soil with Classic Sud Ardeche on Saturday 27 February and La Drome Classic on Sunday 28 February.


Romain Feillu back in the mix with third place in Provence sprint

With his third place, Romain Feillu took his first top 3 result for HP-BTP Auber 93.


“With 500 meters to go, I find myself second behind Jan Bakelants,” he told Directvelo. “I felt that I was going to be boxed in so I launched my sprint. Gaviria passed me 150 meters from the line and Wyss in the end. If Gaviria had not been on my wheel when I started, it would have perhaps been different ​​but there, even with tail wind, he passed me very fast. 


“It was a hard stage because there were climbs in the final kilometers. When they attacked, I was not expecting too much. I was staying there with my teammates. I dug deep and I could follow. We had to hang on to follow the best because there were many attacks, from Vakoc, Moinard etc." 


FDJ pleased with progress of young riders in Provence

The FDJ team left the Tour Provence without winning a stage but with a solid Anthony Roux in fifth overall. The race allowed the young riders in the team to take their chance.


"During this third stage," explains sports director Franck Pineau, "Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier escaped and even though this group of nine riders was caught, it was nice to see. His health problems that have marred his last season seems to be forgotten and he is going crazy. What I say to him is true. Jérémy Maison escaped the day before. Also for Lorrenzo Manzin who took a big blown on Wednesday, is there. I can tell you that the spirit is great and I am happy when old riders like Reza and Roux congratulate the kids on the bus. 


"Anthony Roux was strong and was frustrated at the finish because he had the legs to win if he had not hit the brakes 300 meters from the line due to a narrowing of the road. Kevin Reza is the same. He works very hard and will be there at Paris-Nice. He has done the work, it is in his head and it shows. He workds well in the team."


This stage began with good news as Sébastien Chavanel, who had taken his car at 4 am to join Sophie in Montpellier, was pleased to announce the birth of Sienna, their first child.


Solid top 10 for Sergei Chernetckii in Provence

Team KATUSHA’s leader Sergei Chernetckii once again was strong in the final sprint, taking 7th place.


”We tried to do this stage in active mode. We had Angel Vicioso in the early break, while later Sergei Chernetckii, Aleksandr Porsev and Simon Špilak were among the leaders trying to attack and to change something. But, finally, it was a bunch sprint, where Sergei did a good job again, taking another top-10 spot. I think we did a good race here in France, while our riders have shown real improvement. I think they are on schedule,” said sports director Dmitry Konyshev.


Thanks to a good performance in the last stage, Sergei Cherneckii was able to move up to 7th place in final overall classification of the race (+0.14).


Rémy Di Gregorio back on the podium in Provence

Having punctured out of GC contention on the first stage, Remy Di Gregorio won the mountains jersey. 


"With the team, we worked really well,” he told Directvelo. “I am happy to take this jersey for being best climber. I had a lot of fun to ride on my training roads and I had a lot of supporters. I was disappointed after the first stage and my puncture. So I wanted to make up for it for myself and my team. " 


Loïc Chetout shows form with aggressive performance in Provence

Loic Chetout was in both breakaway that dominated the stage.


"The problem of the breakaway with nine was the presence of Julien El Fares in the group,” he told Directvelo. “The peloton never left us much margin. Furthermore, we were not working well together. Nicolas Edet tried to attack. When we got back, I left. I got company from Vimpère and Brun. We knew that the peloton controlled behind, but with 1 minute I thought we could hang on until the last climb of the course. I felt good so I gave it a go with 20km to go. Behind it went very fast with the leaders attacking just before the summit and that's when I shut down the engine (laughs).”



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