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 “In the finale I accelerated on the descent and then I attacked strongly on the subsequent climb. It was the perfect move and I was able to cross the finish line with the arms in the air!"

Photo: A.S.O.


















14.02.2016 @ 00:34 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Andriy Grivko (Astana) got his 2016 season off to the best possible start as he won the third stage of La Méditerranéenne, his first race of the year. After a very fast race, he made it into a small group with 30km to go and then dropped his rivals on the final climb to ride to a solo victory and the overall lead. Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ) and Jan Bakelants (Ag2r) completed the podium.


We have gathered several reactions.


Triumphant Andriy Grivko: I made the perfect move

“It was a very tough stage, with the first 80km with rain and a very fast pace. The Astana Pro Team did a perfect work in supporting me and I have to thank all my teammates one by one,” said Andrei Grivko after the podium ceremony.


“In the finale I accelerated on the descent and then I attacked strongly on the subsequent climb. It was the perfect move and I was able to cross the finish line with the arms in the air!


“I’m so happy with this win because this is an important race for me and for the Astana Pro Team. Now let’s concentrate on tomorrow’s final stage in Bordighera.”


"This is the first race of my season,” he told Directvelo. This victory is good for the team and for me. The sensations were good. The team controlled things very well throughout the race. 


“I attacked because I expected that AG2R and FDJ would try something. The situation was perfect in the finale with a group of fifteen riders. My teammates did a great job for me. I attacked at the botom of the Tanneron with the objective to win the stage. 


“I knew when to attack because I had looked at the course. I knew Tanneron after having done Paris-Nice and wanted to avoid arriving with Mathieu Ladagnous because I know that he is fast in the sprint. 


“I hope tomorrow will be fine and that I can win the overall. I am afraid of Ladagnous and Bakelants who are not far behind overall. The team will have to control like it did today and I trust it." 


Matthieu Ladagnous: I was stronger than I expected

"Grivko attacked on the climb with 2-3km to go to the top of Tanneron,” Matthieu Ladagnous told Directvelo. “I knew he was one of the strongest in the breakaway. As I'm not a pure climber, I did not want to make the effort. Behind, we stayed four together and cooperated well. We were 15-20 seconds behind. 


“The descent was a bit "hot". Sometimes dry, sometimes wet and I did not know it. Suddenly I got a little scared, trying to catch time. I think I should have gone earlier because I was stronger than I thought. When I attacked, I saw that I was getting closer. It was a missed opportunity but we still won the team time trial and the stage yesterday. It’s cycling, not the blackboard. 


”I gave the maximum on the Tanneron but I did not manage to get back on Grivko before cresting to the top. I missed a couple of seconds and that's what also separates me from him at the finish. On the descent, I wanted to take risks, but I missed a turn twice and it was not worthwhile to do more. There were some wet areas in some corners and it would have been stupid to crash.


“I was leading the first day, the team won the team time trial and Arnaud (Démare) has also won and worn the leader's jersey for one day. I think we can be largely satisfied with this short week. Personally, this is good preparation for the upcoming classics. I thought I could survive the climbs of the day like the Tuilières and Tanneron but probably not in this good way. I'm glad I did not do too badly. After the training camp in Calpe (Spain) in January, I got sick and at my comeback race in Mallorca, I was not at the top. It was only back in France that I felt an improvement that is confirmed here.


“We will try to do something tomorrow (Sunday). It will be a criterion with a climb of 1.4km four kilometres from the finish. I think it will hurt. Personally, I am more afraid of tomorrow's stage than today’s. In general, we'll see how it goes tomorrow because I do not know the climb.

“We must see. I know that the stage is more difficult than expected with this climb of one kilometer at 8% that we will do twenty times. So it is a stage that makes me more scared than today’s. There is always a hope even though I think Grivko is very strong. I am happy with the excellent collective work that has been done for four days.”


Disappointed Bakelants: I failed to win because I did not believe in myself

"This was a very tough race, very fast in the rain for two hours. The team was very active. I missed out on the victory because I did not quite believe in my possibilities while the team AG2R La Mondiale believed strongly in me. I made ​​a tactical error by asking my teammates to stop chasing at one point. it's a pity because we must not let opportunities  slip away.

“There was a great escape without me, with Mika (Chérel) and Cyril (Gautier). I attacked with Alexis (Vuillermoz) and Fedrigo. We closed a large gap and then I went alone. Cyril (Gautier) and Mika (Cherel) helped me. I'm a little disappointed. 

”I'm 40 seconds behind Grivko but nothing is lost. Tomorrow, there is a circuit with a climb of more than a kilometer at 8%. Our team is strong, Mika is also well-placed and he will be less marked than me. I've never been so fit at this time of year."


Mikael Cherel takes rare chance to ride for himself in home race

Mikael Cherel (Ag2r) finished fourth and is also fourth overall.


"It was a difficult day with two hours in the rain from the start,” he said. “I was very motivated as this stage passed my training routes, especially in the Tanneron area that I love. My wife, my children, my friends were at the roadside. I sometimes lack ambition and confidence but I was determined to fight for the win. In the end, I anticipated but Grivko was stronger than me and he went clear on the climb.


“We have a nice card to play tomorrow with three or four riders capable of winning. The AG2R La Mondiale team is very strong in this type of terrain. Today, we implemented the tactic that was defined and we did not miss much. We have fun together.”


Excellent start for Direct Energie neo-pro on the climbs in La Méditerranéenne

Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) finished 11th and is now 6th overall and the best young rider.


"The conditions were special today,” he told Directvelo. “The course was harder than yesterday. The idea of most of the teams was to place a rider in front, so we knew it was going to be a long fight.We were asked to try to join the break. In the first part of the race, we were never trapped.


“Then three riders got clear (Chetout, Barbier and Gautier, ed.). FDJ controlled. Then there were attacks in Draguignan. We were surprised by the situation. When I saw the break, I tried to close the gap but it was too late. My teammates chased and I have to thank them. They knew I was in shape. They managed to bring me back. 


“It was decided on the climb and I attacked. Grivko was above the rest. I reached the top of Tanneron in 5th position, with Bakelants and Chérel. There was a chance for a top 5. Unfortunately, I missed a turn on the descent. I went into the grass and I lost time overall. I'm not very comfortable in wet descents although I am a cyclo-cross rider. I was afraid to make a mistake. We had to unplug the brain and I was not crazy enough. I have progress to make on the descents. 


“I'm still sixth overall. I'm here to find out what I can do. I am very happy with my day after the work of my teammates. We knew how to make up for our little moment of madness. 


“I am a man of the early season.  I can be fit very early. Last year, I won the first Coupe de France in Aix and another race the next day. A pro season is managed differently. We do not race all weekends. I’ll now do Haut-Var, Provence and Drôme-Ardèche. The legs are there. We must seize the opportunities because the level is high.”



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