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Having made it into a 6-rider break, Scully was one of four survivors that sprinted for the win on the final stage of Boucles de la Mayenne; the Australian won the stage and Coquard took the overall victory

Photo: Paumer Kare Dhelie Thorstad

AITOR GONZALEZ

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ANTHONY DELAPLACE

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BOUCLES DE LA MAYENNE

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BRYAN COQUARD

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DIRECT ENERGIE

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DRAPAC PORSCHE CYCLING

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05.06.2016 @ 17:04 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Thomas Scully took the first big win in Europe for Drapac when he came out on top in the final stage of the Boucles de la Mayenne. Having made it into a 6-rider break, he was one of four survivor who narrowly held off the peloton, and he beat Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and Aitor Gonzalez (Euskadi) to claim the biggest victory of his career. Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) had to settle for 12th but it was enough to win the race overall.

 

When they joined the pro continental ranks, Drapac had a long-term ambition of racing more in Europe. After a few years with mainly Australian, Asian and North American races, they made the jump for the 2016 season and have designed a solid calendar for this season with lots of big events in cycling’s main continent.

 

However, until today, the team had not really been close to victory in a big race but today they finally got that elusive win in Europe. Thomas Scully emerged as a surprise winner of the final stage of the Boucles de la Mayenne when he joined a successful breakaway that escaped late in the stage.

 

Scully had already done well in the prologue so it was clear that he was on form. Hence, he was one to watch when he made it into the right sextet with around 30km to go. After two riders had been left behind, he came out on top in the sprint after the group had held off the peloton by a small 6-second margin.

 

The other big winner was Bryan Coquard whose Direct Energie team ran out of manpower in the finale and so failed to bring it back together for a sprint. Hence, the French star could only manage 12th but it was enough for him to win the race overall and so add another stage race to his palmares after his victory at the 4 Days of Dunkirk.

 

After yesterday’s queen stage, the sprinters were expected to be back in action on the final stage which brought the riders over 180km from Juvigné to Laval. There were two categorized climbs early in the stage and three climbs in the second half. However, the stage ended with 5 laps of a flat 4.6km circuit in Laval.

 

Like yesterday, it was cloudy when the riders gathered for the start and there were attacks right from the gun. Joshua Huppertz (Kuota-Lotto), Mads Würtz Schmidt (Trefor) and Roman Kustadinchev (Gazprom-Rusvelo) escaped almost immediately and apparently, the peloton was keen on having an easier day. Hence, the gap grew quickly and was already 30 seconds after 4km of racing.

 

Würtz beat Hupperts and Kustandinchev in the first KOM sprint before Marcel Meisen (Kuota-Lotto) led the peloton over the top. The peloton had not given up yet and so it was a big fight between the two groups, with the gap staying around the 30-second mark for a long time.

 

An Post were setting the pace and brought back the many riders who tried to bridge across. Meanwhile, Kustandinchev won the first Hot Spot sprint ahead of Huppertz and Würtz before Connor McConvery (An Post) led the peloton across the line 22 seconds later.

 

The three escapees lost the battle and were brought back. This set the scene for new attacks and it forced Direct Energie to control things. No one had escaped after 36km of racing.

 

Finally, the elastic snapped just before the second climb where Würtz attacked together with Jasper Bovenhuis (An Post). As the peloton came to a standstill, the gap was already 2.15 after 40km of racing. In general, it was a fast start to the stage as the riders covered 44.4km during the first hour.

 

The gap reached a maximum of 4.30 before the chase got organized. It quickly came down though and reached 2.40 before the peloton again loosened their grip a bit. While the sun came out, Direct Energie kept the gap stable at around 2.30 for several kilometres.

 

As the peloton hit the third climb, the racing suddenly got very aggressive and a group with race leader Coquard went clear, putting 20 seconds into the peloton which was now just 1.10 behind the leaders. The gap even went out to 30 seconds but as there was no great cooperation, the group was brought back.

 

Direct Energie gathered all their six riders on the front and slowly started to reduce the 55-second gap. The front duo dug deep to hang onto an advantage that briefly stabilized at around 20 seconds but with around 45km to go, it was all back together.

 

That opened the door for new attacks but no one could get clear. Hence, Jose Goncalves (Caja Rural) could pick up important bonus seconds by winning the final intermediate sprint. At the time lots of riders were dropped, including Thomas Rostollan (Armee), Adrien Petit (Direct Energie), Kustadinchev and Christian Moberg Jørgensen (Trefor).

 

Finally, a breakaway was formed when Rayane Bouhanni (Cofidis), Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Julien Antomarchi (Roubaix), Aitor Gonzalez (Euskadi), Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Thomas Scully (Drapac) attacked. They managed to build an advantage of 25 seconds as they hit the finishing circuit.

 

The gap stayed around the 30-second mark for a while before the balance tipped in favour of the peloton. At the second passage of the line, it was down to 14 seconds and it was now Nicolas Baldo (Roth) who was leading the chase. Meanwhile, Jeremy Leveau (Roubaix) and Rostollan left the race.

 

Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie) took over the pace-setting with three laps to go where the gap was still 12 seconds. His fast pace was taking its toll as many riders were dropped, including stage 1 winner Francesco Chicchi (Androni).

 

Bouhanni was dropped from the peloton and was back in the fold as they started the penultimate lap. However, the escapees were not slowing down at all and they could start the final lap with a 14-second advantage.

 

Antomarchi was the next escapee to surrender, leaving just Rickaert, Delaplace and Gonzalez to press on. Coquard no longer had any teammates so he had to rely on Guillaume Levarlet (Auber 93) to bring the break back, sitting in second position behind his compatriot.

 

With 3km to go, the gap was still 13 seconds but now the cooperation was gone in the break. Delaplace tried an unsuccessful solo move and when he was back in the fold, they were only 9 seconds behind.

 

Rickaert countered the move and managed to put 20 metres into Delaplace who was in lone pursuit. He started the final kilometre with an 8-second advantage over the peloton.

 

The three chasers came back together and managed to catch Rickaert just metres from the line. The peloton was too late and so they could sprint for the win. Scully held off Delaplace and Gonzalez while Rickaert had to settle for fourth.

 

Six seconds behind the stage winner, Marc Sarreau (FDJ) beat Maxime Vantomme (Roubaix) and Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank) in the sprint for fifth. Coquard rolled across the line in 12th but it was enough to secure the overall win.

 

Delaplace’s second place allowed him to move into second, 15 seconds behind Coquard whose teammate Boudat completed the podium. Coquard of course won the points competition and Joris Niuwenhuis (Rabobank) was the best climber. Boudat was the best young rider and Direct Energie was the best team.

 

With the Boucles de la Mayenne done and dusted, many riders will be back in action at the Route du Sud which is the next major race in France and kicks off on June 16. At the moment, an even bigger event takes place in the country as the Criterium du Dauphiné started today.

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