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“Last year in this period, I was still trying to get better and better with the injury. I am happy at the moment with the form. Today I showed I can go for the win again. And that’s a great feeling. Completely different than las...

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AG2R LA MONDIALE

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ALEXEI TSATEVICH

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ARTHUR VICHOT

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CIRCUS-WANTY GOBERT

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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DIEGO ULISSI

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EF PRO CYCLING

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GIOVANNI VISCONTI

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JESUS HERRADA

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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MIKAEL CHEREL

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TOM-JELTE SLAGTER

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TOUR DU HAUT VAR

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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21.02.2016 @ 00:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale) confirmed that he is a man for the early season by claiming an impressive victory in the first stage of the Tour du Haut Var. With a powerful surge 400m from the line on the uphill finishing straight, he managed to hold off Arthur Vichot (FDJ) and Mikael Cherel (Ag2r) to claim both the stage win and the overall lead.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Tom-Jelte Slagter after first victory: Now I am finally able to go for the win again

At Haut Var, it was a struggle all day due to a rolling profile and a finish circuit that saw a 1-kilometer ramp to the line.
 
“It was a great day. The victory is always nice. I knew the final would suit me. It was all about positioning. I was in good position with five, six kilometers to go, so I could move up. I went over the top in third or fourth, full gas downhill so there was a gap behind me,” said Slagter. “Once I saw the gap was there, we came into the last kilometer and I thought if I waited they would probably catch us, and you’ll never know what could have happened. I surprised myself a little bit." 
 
The victory is the second of the season for the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team, and they never come easy.
 
“The road was all day up and down left and right,” said Eric Van Lancker, Cannondale Pro Cycling Team’s sport director at Haut Var.
 
A break went early, and the team did its part to bring the race all together with 15 kilometers to go. The plan all along was to ride for Slagter and Paddy Bevin, but Bevin crashed with 15 kilometers left and had to fight to make contact with the peloton again.
 
In the end, it was Slagter who took the flowers. Bevin emerged without serious injury.
 
“Tom did a great last kilometer to win the race,” Van Lancker said. “He told me this morning he was in good shape, and he saw the profile, and he said ‘Ok, we try today.’ ”
 
For Slagter, the win is a validation that he’s beyond the knee injury that hampered his last season.
 
“Last year in this period, I was still trying to get better and better with the injury. I am happy at the moment with the form. Today I showed I can go for the win again. And that’s a great feeling. Completely different than last year,” Slagter said.

 

"This step has brought up many memories,” he told Directvelo. “The final reminded me of the first stage of the 2013 edition where I finished 2nd behind Hushovd in La Croix Valmer. I had a double feeling also on the Mur de Fayence where I lost it all in the 2014 Paris-Nice, two days after my stage win.

 

“I was supported by my teammates like Patrick Bevin. I started my sprint with 500 meters to go. I saw that there was a small gap behind me and I gave everything. Movistar set a very fast pace in the finale. “
 

Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters said much the same.  
 
"Slagter is off to a great start after having to deal with a knee issue last year. He will be a top contender in the Ardennes classics this year. He's ready,” Vaughters said.
 
“It’s nice to have first European victory of the season,” Van Lanker added. “The first win is always difficult. And if you have the first, everybody is in a good mood. It’s really important.”
 
Slagter will fight to keep the leader’s jersey Sunday over a tough 200-kilometer stage.
 
“You always have to try. A lot of things can happen — you never know. But you always have to fight for it.

 

“Tomorrow, I will look at the profile but I feel good right now. I leave Mallorca and the Tour of Valencia where I was 5th and 9th in stages. I find the form that I had two years ago. After the Tour du Haut Var, I will go directly to Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo and the Ardennes. This year, the Tour de France is on my program.”

 

Mikael Cherel confirms good form despite suffering from illness in Haut Var

After his great performance at La Mediterraneenne, Mikael Cherel (Ag2r) confirmed his form by taking third.

 

"We led on ​​the descent to the bottom in order to be well placed at the start of the circuit, he said. “I really know these roads and I played it smart because physically I am a bit limited [he has been suffering from a cold, ed.]

 

"I was sick since the end of La Mediterraneenne and honestly I was not very confident. The finish in Bagnols-le-Foret is located 10 km from my home. I was very motivated to do something good . Today, we rode on the front and stayed together grouped and I managed to interfere in the sprint. This third place is a great satisfaction. For tomorrow, anything is possible in one direction or the other."

 

His teammate Pierre Latour was in the break.

 

"I was sick after the Trofeo Laigueglia and I was not sure what to expect today. We had planned to be present in the break if a WorldTour rider was present and that was the case so I decided to go there. We quickly moved ahead and I thought that it could be possible. In the finale, I was a little empty but it's not really a surprise. This is the kind of day you make progress," he said.

 

Jesus Herrada and Giovanni Visconti in the mix in Haut Var

The Movistar block directed by Chente García Acosta at the Tour du Haut Var preserved their leader’s positioning and also showed courage in the lumpy run-in towards the finish in Bagnols en Forêt. Giovanni Visconti jumped after the descent of Blavet, the day’s final climb, and was just 1km short of taking the day’s win, chased down by local Anthony Turgis (COF). It was Tom-Jelte Slagter (CPT) who preceeded the fast men to don the first leader’s jersey, while Jesús Herrada crossed the line in a fine 4th as Gorka Izagirre and ‘Visco’ himself took 11th and 12th. Action in southeastern France will come to a close tomorrow with a tough 206km around Draguignan, including five rated climbs and the ascent of Tuillières (15%) just 16 kilometers from the finish.

 

Poor position costly for Diego Ulissi in Haut Var

Lampre-Merida tried to make the race hard but in the end Diego Ulissi had to settle for sixth after being poorly positioned for the uphill sprint.

 

"It is too bad that Ulissi was close to the podium, the sprint was not easy,” sports director Simone Pedrazzini said. “However, today our boys all worked well and raced together. 
 

”Tomorrow we will have the second stage over 206km, and the stage should be more suited to our captain. We will try to improve the position of today.”

 

In-form Alexey Tsatevich in contention in Haut Var

The first of two stages for the Tour Cycliste International du Haut Var-matin (2.1, France) took place on Saturday with Team KATUSHA’s Alexey Tsatevich in the middle of the action, sprinting in for eighth  place behind stage winner Tom-Jelte Slagter of Cannondale. 

 

”Tsatevich was a bit blocked behind the back of a FDJ rider and could not react immediately. He however had good feelings all day. He is having a good beginning of the season,” said sports director Dmitry Konyshev.

 

Petr Vakoc takes the young rider’s jersey in Haut Var

Etixx – Quick-Step had a strong presence in the small group to hit the finish, Petr Vakoč (9th) and Maxime Bouet (13th) coming in the same time with the winner, while Pieter Serry arrived just six seconds later, in 14th position. Besides his top 10 on the stage and in the overall, Vakoč is also leading the youth classification.
 

"I felt good but I was too in a bad position as we approached the sprint,” Vakoc told Directvelo. “The stage was not as hard than expected. The peloton rolled relatively quiet behind the breakaway. Everyone was still fresh on the final circuit where we were going fast. Tomorrow will be another story. The stage is longer. We have many cards to play in the team. In general, the team counts on me and Maxime Bouet. After the Haut Var, my next race will be Strade Bianche.”
 

Gaetan Bille abandons the Tour du Haut Var due to lack of form

It was a hard day for Wanty-Groupe Gobert in Tour du Haut-Var. Gaëtan Bille had to abandon at 40km from the finish.

 

"I didn't train since my crash in Tour de Valencia two weeks ago. Miracles just don't exist. Now I will stay in France to train and try again in Tour de Provence from Tuesday,” he said.

 

Marco Minnaard was the best of the team but he lost 1.22 on stage winner Tom-Jelte Slagter.

 

"I am pretty disappointed with this result. I felt really good but got dropped in the final of the stage. This should never have happened,” he said.

 

Tomorrow is another long and tough day in the south of France.

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