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“It's good to start well. I had to show my teammates they were right to believe in me. It was also to prove to (manager) Jean-René (Bernaudeau) that he had not made ​​the wrong choice to create something around me...

Photo: Sirotti




















03.02.2016 @ 20:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) continued his love affair with the Etoile de Besseges when he took the sixth stage win of his career by coming out on top in the opening bunch sprint on the first day of the 2016 edition. The Frenchman finished off excellent work by his team on a windy day in France and easily held off Timothy Dupont (Verandas Willems) and Antoine Demoitie (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) to take victory and become the first leader of the race.


We have gathered several reactions.


Bryan Coquard: I have proved that it is right to build a team around me

"The team was super strong today,” Coquard told Directvelo. “We were in the front all day. Perrig (Quémeneur) did a great job early in the race.  Lotto-Soudal then made ​​a sudden echelon. We did not panick. We asked Antoine Duschene to ride with them.


”Then there was a regrouping before entering the final circuit. From there, Thomas (Voeckler) worked until the last lap. I still had Sylvain (Chavanel), a great Morice, Angelo (Tulik) and Adrien (Petit). The great Morice started earlier than planned but there was no panic. It was almost perfect. When I started at 200 meters, Adri already said, "yeah, yeah, yeah." I was two or three steps ahead. 


"It went super well, as we had predicted and had planned. We had planned to ride all day to ensure a bunch sprint at the finish. There was a lot of wind, we had echelons occasionally. But Perrig rode hard at the front of the pack for a good part of the day. Then it was Thomas Voeckler and Antoine Duchesne who took over in the final circuit until a lap to go where Sylvain Chavanel took action to take us to 2 kilometers from the line. The great Morice produced his effort too and we ended up with Angelo, Adrian and me. We took the lead at 1km and then I was delivered as planned by Adrien 200 meters from the finish. It was a perfect day.



"In the second step, I will wear the leader's jersey, so we will have to defend the colors. It's good to be leading the overall standings, but with the prospect of a time trial it is rather Sylvain who is the team's favorite in this event. It will require the team to work hard hard. We have not spoken yet but I think the team will want to do the same as today.


I feel very fit, the legs were good today and the team is in very good condition. We're really glad as we could not start better any better.


“It's good to win so early in the season. The team expected it and I expected it. The media expected a lot from this process. We announced what we had put in place. We are on the right track. It is a success, but it's interesting. The first big test will be Paris-Nice. 


“It's good to start well. I had to show my teammates they were right to believe in me. It was also to prove to (manager) Jean-René (Bernaudeau) that he had not made ​​the wrong choice to create something around me. He was present today. So it is particularly pleasing to win. And you had to prove to the leaders of Direct Energie that they have not made ​​a bad choice by allowing on our team to continue the story. 


“This year we focus on the sprint, this is not necessarily what the team has done  ​​since its inception. It's good to show that I am off to a good start to this 2016 season. My second place on the Champs-Elysées, on the last day of the Tour de France, was not a fluke. I could not imagine a better start.”


Timothy Dupont proves great sprint potential with second place behind Coquard

At the flamme rouge, Timothy Dupont was in 20th position on the first stage of the Etoile de Bessèges.


"It was not easy to be well placed. I had a strong team with me but I was not really well positioned," he told DirectVelo. The Belgian was forced to make a first sprint before the last corner. "I then ended up on the wheel of a rider from FDJ. He was behind Coquard. When Bryan launched the sprint, I was still on the wheel of the FDJ guy, I was a little stuck. I went left, and Coquard went right. But Coquard was too strong anyway


"I hope to be better placed tomorrow before the last corner. Bryan is very strong but you never know what can happen. Everything is possible in a sprint." 

"At Verandas Willems, I'm protected. At Roubaix-Lille Métropole where I spent two years, the team has never really worked for me in the sprints. That's a big difference and it is important for the confidence.


“It is possible for me to win. I finished second five times at this level. I missed a chance to win. But I did not miss much. This year, it'll work. "

Excellent start for new Wanty-Groupe Gobert sprinter in Besseges

On Wednesday the first stage (152km) in the Etoile de Bessèges took place around Bellegarde, France. The flat course was the first opportunity for the sprinters. Antoine Demoitié showed immediately that he has fast legs. He came in third behind Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) and Timothy Dupont (Veranda's Willems).

After 35 kilometres a breakaway of four riders was formed - without any representation of Wanty-Groupe Gobert - but the peloton kept everything under tight control and only granted the four leaders a gap of three minutes. On the local circuit the group was caught. The sprint preparation could start in earnest.

"On these local laps the team really protected me which enanbled me to sprint for the victory," Antoine Demoitié said. In the last kilometre Demoitié was positioned behind Bryan Coquard and Arnaud Démare.

"I started my sprint at 200 metres from the line but Coquard already had several lenghts on me. He was very strong today," the rider from Wallonia explained.

This great result made the new Wanty-Groupe Gobert rider happy. "I am pretty content that I could show the team straight away that they can count on me."

Tomorrow is the second stage of Etoile de Bessèges between Nîmes and Méjannes Le Clap (153 kilometres).


Frustrating season debut for Arnaud Demare

Arnaud Démare started his season in the first stage of the Etoile de Bessèges, which ended as expected in a sprint won by Coquard (Direct Energi). Hampered in the sprint by a rider of the Lotto-Soudal team, Demare has lost the wheel of his teammates Mikael Delage and Kevin Reza. Nevertheless, he could see that he had good speed in the final metres.


"We have worked with other sprint teams and when there were echelons, the guys were present," says sports director Yvon Madiot. "They were always in front. They were 5 in the first part of the pack until all groups came back together as they entered the final circuit with 27 kilometers to go. Everybody was there except for Daniel Hoelgaard who seems to digest the training camp, a new work for him because he has never ridden like that."


In this race, the FDJ team will work for its sprinter and without leaving the first places of the field.


"It was a suicide finish with roundabouts, curves and narrow road. It was very nervous and Lotto came pushed Arnaud who lost the wheel of his two lead-out men. So he sprinted once to get back into position but he was too far from rival Coquard. Inevitably he was disappointed not to have been sprinting but obviously tomorrow we will work to get a mass sprint."


Cofidis talent takes the white jersey at Etoile de Besseges

Anthony Turgis was the best Cofidis rider in 17th which was enough to take the white jersey as best toung rider.


"There was a lot of wind,” he told Directvelo. “You had to be very careful. The peloton broke several times. We were two to three teams well represented when the peloton broke in two. But the sprint teams wanted to keep something left for the finale. We rode fast and then it slowed down.


“At the Etoile de Bessèges, I'll take it day by day. Some stages suit me better than others, but there is a high level and the stages remain rather flat. The finish on Saturday is uphill's hump, but it can be won by sprinters. I have good sensations but my goals are more distant. You want to make a real team work, make progress together and then get the victories. We just have to do the work.”

Unfortunate van der Sande given time penalty at Etoile de Besseges

Tosh van der Sande sprinted to fifth in the first stage but was relegated and given a time penalty.


“Whole day a perfect team effort from @Lotto_Soudal! Flat tire with 7k to go and ended up 5th... #etoiledebesseges #goodfeeling,” he tweeted immediately after the stage.


Later he added: ”Ok, 1min penalty and 18th place because the mecano looked 2sec at my brake  after a flat tire ! No problem, tmrw another day... #nohardfeelings.”


His teammate Sander Armee also punctured in the finale. He made it back to the peloton and then had to wait for his teammate.


“Spicy day in @Etoile_Besseges.Puncture 12km from the finish, came back, @Toshvds punctured 7km from the finish, waited for him, had blood in the throat and finished,” he tweeted


Tony Gallopin won the intermediate sprint, took three bonus seconds and is fourth on general classification.


Bad start for Fortuneo-Vital Concept at Etoile de Besseges

The Fortuneo-Vital Concept riders were hampered in the finale by a succession of crashes which created splits and prevented them from trying their luck. Anthony delaplace was best.


Kevin Ledanois suffered a heavy crash and Jonathan Hivert had a painful knee and they both arrived late. 


Young Swiss takes mountains jersey in Besseges

The Team Roth was very active during the first stage of the Etoile de Bessèges (UCI category 2.1) between Bellegarde and Beaucaire. After 35 kilometres Roland Thalmann attacked and won the first mountain sprint. He formed a leading group with 3 more riders. They kept on working together and got 3 minutes of advantage. Thalmann managed to win the second mountain sport as well, just before being caught by the peloton. There was a sprint finish, disturbed by some crashes, and Dylan Page crossed the line as 21th. Unfortunately Tristan Marguet had to give up early during the stage.



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