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"Apparently, I'm not likely to win again since it seems that there is a curse here when you have won the GP La Marseillaise. This morning on the bus, we said that whoever would win here was not going to win more this year."

Photo: IAM Cycling






















31.01.2016 @ 20:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Dries Devenyns (IAM) got his 2016 season off to the best possible start as he came out on top in the traditional French season opener. The Belgian attacked before the final climb where he was joined by Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and the pair managed to hold off a select chase group before the Belgian won the 2-rider sprint. Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie) won the sprint for third.


We have gathered several reactions.


Triumphant Devenyns: I hope to break the curse of the GP La Marseillaise

Winless since his victory on July 9, 2009 at the fifth stage of the Tour of Austria, the Belgian puncheur brought IAM Cycling’s first win of the season, which is the second year the Swiss team has been a member of the World Tour.  The team’s last victory dates back to Jonas Van Genechten’s victory at the end of the third stage of the Eurométropole on October 2, 2015.


"I have waited for this victory for a long time, too long,” Dries Devenyns exclaimed at the finish of the race.  “I was motivated and have been able to train well throughout the winter.  In the sprint, I got out of the saddle to give the impression that I was launching, and then Thibaut took the lead.  I managed to get back onto his wheel and gave everything I had left in my legs to edge him on the line.  I had the heart to win because the entire team was really tremendous today.  We definitely rolled up our sleeves and it paid off.”


For his first victory as a directeur sportif for the IAM Cycling team, Lionel Marie was as much in a mood to celebrate as the riders.  The Frenchman Marie took care to emphasize the excellent work that all the riders for the only Swiss team in the World Tour accomplished. 


“We did everything right.  Jérôme Coppel was tasked to work on the ascent of the route des Crêtes. And when Pinot, Bardet and company overtook him, Dries managed to put in a decisive attack, so much so that only Thibaut Pinot was able to find the strength to bridge up to him.  And waiting behind the action, our guys were in a position to take their chance if the need arose.”


Jonathan Fumeaux, Reto Hollenstein, and Clément Chevrier finished 16th, 21st, and 23rd, respectively, just 42 seconds back, and the Franco-Swiss Valais trio performed perfectly in the roles of watch dogs in the chase group behind Dries Devenyns and Thibaut Pinot.


As the appointed leader in case of a sprint finish, Heinrich Haussler was unable to join up with the pack of favorites due to a puncture that occurred right at one of the key moments of the race.


If Dries Devenyns can now add the GP La Marseillaise to his palmarès riding for IAM Cycling, he is not the only member of the team to have done so. Eddy Seigneur, current directeur sportif for the Swiss team, already found success at the same race in 1993 having taken first place with Didier Rous.


"The good break went on the Col des Cretes,” Devenyns told Directvelo. “At that time, I was not very well placed. I was even pretty far back so I quickly made ​​the effort to put me in the top positions of the pack. There were some attacks, including some from dangerous riders like Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet. My teammate Jérôme Coppel tried too and got a small advantage but as he was alone, he failed to make a gap. 


“When Jerome was caught, I tried my luck. I did ​​four kilometers alone and a bloc, with riders just seconds behind but no one could return. I did not try to wait for anyone but Thibaut Pinot joined me with Gijs Van Hoecke. We crested the summit together. We did not take any risks in this descent that could be tricky. It was a little bit dangerous because of the wind, even though the course was beautiful.   


“Finally, we ended up with two, Thibaut and me, and the victory was decided between us. We did not watch each other in the finale because we knew that the peloton would rider much faster than us so we did not have time to play games. We understood that it was important to work together until the end. 


“I knew that we have more or less at the same speed in the sprint. I ended up on top in the final stretch. I wanted to pretend that I started the sprint at 300m, but Thibaut did not fall into the trap. He remained in my wheel and then he launched the sprint with 200m to go. I managed to pass him and beat him with a little margin, I would say something like half a wheel. 


“This is an important victory, although I did not necessarily expect it. This morning at the briefing, the plan was to work for Heinrich Haussler. That said, I still asked if I could attack in the finale if I felt good. We did well to give me my chance. 


”I had not won for a long time (a stage of the Tour of Austria in 2009, ed), so it does much good. Apparently, I'm not likely to win again since it seems that there is a curse here when you have won the GP La Marseillaise. This morning on the bus, we said that whoever would win here was not going to win more this year. Fortunately, I do not think too much about these things."


Pinot: It's frutrating to miss the win by such a small margin

"I decided to attack in the most difficult part of the route where it was very hard with the percentage and crosswind,” Pinot told Directvelo. “I quickly got a gap and returned to Devenyns. Once there were ten to fifteen seconds, I knew it could go all the way. As a duo, we got a 1-minute advantage, proving that it was really tough. Despite being two, with the headwind on the Gineste it really seemed endless. 


“The victory was decided in a sprint between us. I missed out by something like half a wheel. It has to be frustrating. Even if it was only the GP La Marseillaise, it's a shame to miss out by so little. 


“I think I did the finale with Devenyns well. From the last kilometer, I stayed on his wheel. I launched the sprint with 200m to go. I missed five meters to win. It's like that."


"The course was more selective than in previous years," said sports director Yvon Madiot," and we suspected that the true sprinters would not be there at the finish. We expected a small group. We rode all day and made the race hard with the aim to put two or three of our riders in the group for the win while keeping Kevin Reza in case it would be decided in a sprint. We had Sébastien Reichenbach, Arthur Vichot and Thibaut. The latter attacked alone on the Cote des Cretes to rejoin Devenyns. They were not caught. Behind, Arthur Vichot covered the counterattacks. In the sprint Thibaut was beaten but he was pleased with his day. He was eager to see where he was. Arthur finished 7th and with Sébastien, we lead the Coupe de France team standings. Kevin finished 30 seconds behind the Vichot-Reichenbach group."


To reach this result, FDJ team had mobilized its forces and Madiot was happy to have seen riders that were '' professional, focused and with the desire to do well. Initially, Mika Delage and Daniel Hoelgaard chased behind the escapees. Then Ignas Konovalovas was at the helm for 40 kilometers before being assisted by Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier and Kevin. He then set ​​the tempo on the Col des Cretes and I can say that it was good. That said, all the guys have done a great job!"


Sunday night, five of the riders present in Marseille travelled to Nimes for the Etoile de Bessèges which begins on Wednesday. Konovalovas and Hoelgaard went to Besançon on Monday for tests before arriving in Nîmes in the evening and Arnaud Démare will take the place of Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier.


"Working like this, I think the team will win a stage with Arnaud Démare," concluded the sporting director of the FDJ team. "Thibaut knows that the course does not suit him and he is mainly thinking about doing some work."


Planckaert: I would have signed for this first podium spot

Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie-Bruxelles) won the sprint for third.


"If someone had told me to sign for a podium before the start, I would have done so," said Planckaert. "The race was decided on the last climb, the Col de la Gineste, where Devenyns and Pinot got away. We were able to return but I won the sprint for 3rd place which is a sign of good form.


"The GP La Marseillaise was a more closed than usual. I will not say that the new challenge, Col des Cretes, with less than 40 kilometers to go has changed the configuration of the finale a lot from the past. Devenyns and Pinot attacked on the Gineste, the last difficulty of the day. There were still many riders from Lotto-Soudal, AG2R and Wanty Group Gobert and I thought they were going to bring the two fugitives back but that did not happen. I won the sprint for 3rd place which complements my palmares of 4th in 2015 and 2nd in 2014.


“It's a bit frustrating not to have victory in Marseille. But I'm happy with my form and it bodes well for the Etoile de Bessèges which begins on February 3 where I will have opportunities to try to win. We showed a very good team in Marseille and I think we can do good things this week in Gard. "


"I tried to join the best in the finale,” he added to Directvelo. “I found myself in a very interesting group but it was not for our team to ride as there were several representatives of Lotto-Soudal and AG2R-La Mondiale. 


“In the end, we had multiple attackers, and I was not sure who was still in front. I was not necessarily aware that Pinot and Devenyns were still in front. It's a shame because I really had good legs. I won the sprint for third place. I had some doubts before the race but eventually, I'm glad to see that I am already good at the beginning of the season. 


“This new course did not really suit me, for sure, with these new climbs. The race was more closed than usual in the first half and for the rest, it was again Gineste that made ​​the difference in my opinion. 


“I was able to prove to the team that I was able to follow the best in difficult races like this. It's really positive and important for the rest of the season. I'm still disappointed because I've done a lot of places of honor and I again start this season with a second place. It's really frustrating. I want to win. It will be perhaps be at the Etoile de Bessèges, the Tour du Haut Var and the Provence Tour, my next races in February."


Excellent season debut for Wanty-Groupe Gobert in France

On Sunday the 31st of January Wanty-Groupe Gobert started its first race of the cycling season: the GP La Marseillaise. Dimitri Claeys finished fourth in the race that was won by Dries Devenyns (IAM Cycling). Gaëtan Bille and Jérôme Baugnies also finished inside the top ten: in ninth and tenth place respectively.

In the south of France the weather was fair at the start of the 143,8 kilometre long race. Led by sports director Hilaire Van Der Schueren the following riders took the start: Boris Dron, Dimitri Claeys, Antoine Demoitié, Frederik Veuchelen, Marco Marcato, Jérôme Baugnies, Dimitri Claeys and Frederik Backaert.

A breakaway of four riders - without any Wanty-Groupe Gobert representation - took a lead that was held under tight control by the peloton. On the last climb, the newly added Col des Crêtes above the city of La Ciotat, the race started in earnest.

“FDJ made the race hard for Thibaut Pinot,” Dimitri Claeys explains. The Tour de France stage winner got company from Dries Devenyns.

“That last climb, which is new to this race, made GP La Marseillaise a completely different race. Everything was focused around that climb. We remained with a group of 35 riders, including six of Wanty-Groupe Gobert: me, Bille, Baugnies, Dron, Marcato and Backaert. ”

Pinot and Devenyns left the group behind and sprinted for the victory. Jérôme Baugnies tried a late attack for third place but was caught in the last kilometre.

“It was a downhill sprint and we had wind in the back. It was fast!," Claeys continues. "I didn't feel all that good at training in the past week. Finishing second in the bunch sprint and thus coming in fourth is a good start to the season."

From 3 February Wanty-Groupe Gobert will ride two stage races: Etoile de Bessèges and Volta Comunitat Valenciana.


Fantastic Direct Energie debut for Canadian in Marseille

Direct Energie primarily hoped to find the race rhythm at the first one-day race of the year. The team was surprised to see new signing Ryan Anderson finish 5th after sold work of Sylvain Chavanel and Lilian Calmejane. The latter finished in the top 20 in his first professional race.



"In this race, there's apprehension among all the riders I think, but especially among the neo-pros," Calmejane said. "We all wait to see where we stand in relation to the competition. For my part, I wanted to do well because the profile of the race suited me quite well. For the confidence, I think it is important to be an actor from the beginning of the season.


"At the race itself, the scenario was quite simple, with a breakaway controlled by FDJ. The Col des Cretes revealed the truth for everyone.At the top, we were thirty and it is this group that decided the win.


"We were three riders from Direct Energie, Sylvain, Ryan and me, but it seemed impossible to get back to the two riders in front. They were above the rest today! For the group's sprint, we tried to put Ryan in good position. He takes fifth place, it is an encouraging result.


"I am pleased to have been able to respond well. I hope to continue to climb gradually to the center stage at the end of February for the Tour du Haut-Var, the Tour de Provence and the Drome Classic."


Carlos Barbero off to a good start to 2016 in Marseille

While one part of the team raced on Mallorca this weekend, the rest of the Caja Rural - Seguros RGA riders took part in the French one-day race GP la Marseillaise.
Early in the race, a group of four riders got away. The peloton always kept them in a tight leash and on the slopes of the penultimate climb, the break was over. Numerous attacks occurred on the hills and as the riders approached the final kilometers, only two riders were left in front with a heavily reduced peloton chasing behind.
At the end, Dries Devenyns (IAM Cycling) came out victoriously when he outsprinted pre-race favorite Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).  In the sprint within the chase group, Caja Rural - Seguros RGA team leader Carlos Barbero showed good legs when he finished 6th on the day.


Bardet: I am frustrated not to have joined Pinot and Devenyns

Romain Bardet (Ag2r) started his season in Marseille and finished in the group that sprinted for third.


"The feelings were pretty good,” he said. “I did not expect this and as I am in a full working period. I worked a lot and I arrived with fatigue. But I think the excitement of the race took over. The team was good, we showed that we is ready for the future. There was a small escape in front and I was a little upset to have missed the move. The headwind made it an even more honorable performance by the breakaway. I'm happy with my comeback. We can see that the winter was mild, everyone is fit.”



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