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With a great attack in the final kilometre, Gaviria surprised his fellow sprinters and claimed his first classics win in Paris-Tours; Demare beat Van Genechten in the sprint for second

Photo: ANSI / PERI - ZENNARO

ARNAUD DEMARE

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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FERNANDO GAVIRIA

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JONAS VANGENECHTEN

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PARIS - TOURS

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09.10.2016 @ 16:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) opened what is likely to become an impressive classics palmares when he surprised his fellow sprinters at Paris-Tours. When the pace went down in the final kilometre, the Colombian launched a strong attack and immediately got a big gap. Arnaud Demare (FDJ) did his best to catch the strong super talent but had to settle for second while Jonas Van Genechten secured a podium place for IAM in their final race ever.

 

When he beat Mark Cavendish twice at the 2015 Tour de San Luis, it became apparent that Fernando Gaviria is destined to become one of the future top sprinters. However, he soon showed that he is more than just a fast rider when he rode impressively on some of the hard stages at the Tour of Britain.

 

After turning pro with Etixx-QuickStep, Gaviria proved that he has the skills to become a great classics rider. In his first Milan-Sanremo, he was very close to the win but unfortunately he crashed on the finishing straight. Later he impressed in his first cobbled classics and even though he failed to take a win he showed that he has the potential to do well in Flanders too.

 

After a stint on the track, Gaviria has set his sights on a maiden World title in Qatar but before travelling to the desert, he used today’s Paris-Tours as a final test of his form. He couldn’t have asked for a better dress rehearsal as he took the win that so narrowly eluded him in Sanremo earlier in the year.

 

Gaviria was always going to be one of the big favourites for the race which had an easier course for the 110th edition. With no wind, a bunch sprint was the expected outcome and here Gaviria was a natural candidate.

 

However, few would have expected him to win in the way he did. Instead of sprinting in the traditional way, he showed great tactical skills by anticipating his fellow fastmen when the Sky train was running out of steam.

 

As the pace went down, no one took over and this opened the door for Gaviria to make an unexpected move. With an impressive acceleration, he immediately got a big gap with 600m to go and even though Lotto Soudal and Katusha chased hard, it was too late. Arnaud Demare then did a long sprint and got close in the end but the Frenchman had to settle for second, with Jonas Van Genechten ending IAM’s final race with a spot on the podium.

 

The 110th edition of Paris-Tours was held on an almost completely flat 252.5km course that brought the riders from Dreux to the traditional finish on the Avenue de Grammont in Tours. The usual late climbs had been omitted from the long, southerly run and the only remaining obstacle was the small Cote de Crochu with 25km to go. From there, flat roads led to the big finale in the centre of Tours.

 

As promised, the riders had optimal sunny conditions when they embarked on the long march towards Tours and apparently that inspired them to have an aggressive and fast start. The numerous attacks eventually gave rise to the establishment of a seven-rider breakaway consisting of Floris Gert's (BMC), Pirmin Lang (IAM), Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin), Brian Van Goethem (Roompot), Kevin Lebreton (Armee), Maarten Wynants ( LottoNL-Jumbo) and Arnaud Gerard (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), and they had a lead of 2.20 after 37km of racing.

 

The sprinters had no intention of giving them too much leeway and quickly FDJ, Etixx-QuickStep, Cofidis and Dimension Data started to chase. Therefore, the gap was still a modest 3.20 at the 112km mark.

 

With 45km to go, the gap was reduced to 1.40, and it was Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal), Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky) and Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ) who set the pace. Dimension Data quickly joined them with Jay Thomson, and their efforts bore fruit as the gap had dropped to just 1.05 five kilometers later.

 

The advantage came down to just 45 seconds before the bunch realized that they were about to reel in the break too early. Frison, Vaugrenard, Nordhaug and Thomson slowed down again and so the gap increased to 1.05 as they hit the last 30 km.

 

The chase was given more fire power when Zak Dempster (Bora-Argon 18) and Johann van Zyl (Dimension Data) took over from Nordhaug and Frison. Hence, the gap was down to 35 seconds as they hit the Cote de Crochu where Lebreton was dropped.

 

As expected, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) tried to attack and together with Sam Oomen (Giant-Alpecin), Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data) and an Armee rider he managed to get a small gap. An Auber 93 rider bridged the gap but the quintet didn’t get much of an advantage as Bora-Argon 18 were chasing hard. Lotto Soudal also came to the fore.

 

With 20km to go, it was already over for the chasers and the subsequent attacks from Zdenek Stybar, Nikolas Maes (Etixx-QuickStep), Jempy Drucker (BMC), Adrien Petit (Direct Energiee) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) didn’t work out either. FDJ then took control with Yoann Offredo and allowd Qentin Jauregui (Ag2r) to take off. Meanwhile, Barguil dropped back from the breakaway.

 

Offredo slowly reeled Jauregui in and then Cofidis took over with Stephane Rossetto. He quickly reeled Julien Berard (Ag2r) and a Delko rider in and also brought Lang back when the IAM rider was dropped from the break.

 

Matthieu Lagdanous (FDJ) closed the final bit of the gap with 14km to go and so everything was back together. Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen) made a small attack but he failed to get clear and then Dempster and Boeckmans hit the front. At the same time, Demare lost an important rider as Offredo suffered a puncture

 

Sergey Lagutin (Katusha) and Bert De Backer (Giant-Alpecin) attacked on a small climb and while Bora led the chase, they managed to open a 10-second advantage. However, Cofidis soon reacted and then lined Rossetto and Rudy Molard on the front.

 

Cofidis remained in control and allowed the gap to go out to 15 seconds as they hit the final 7km IAM took over. Martin Elmiger took a huge turn and brought the two attackers back with 5km to go.

 

Jelle Wallays hit the front for Lotto Soudal and then Tosh van der Sande took over for the Belgians. Sky then took control with five riders, with Luke Rowe taking a first turn until Michal Golas took over.

 

Marco Marcato (Wanty) came to the fore for Wanty before Cofidis kicked into action. The French team lined out Florian Senechal, Cyril Lemoine, Geoffrey Soupe, Christophe Laporte and Nacer Bouhanni on the front but it was evident that it was too early.

 

Lemoine took a massive turn and then Soupe guided the French team through the final turns. However, they lost the front positions when Sky came to the fore with Golas, Owain Doull and Viviani.

 

Doull hit the front with a little more than 1km to go and led the peloton under the flamme rouge. However, as no one had an organized lead-out, there was no one to take over when the Brit started to fade and this opened the door for Gaviria.

 

The Colombian saw an opportunity to make a strong acceleration on the right-hand side of the road and even though Jurgen Roelandts reacted immediately for Lotto Soudal, he got a big gap. Marco Haller (Katusha) took over from Roelandts and then Demare launched a long sprint. However, it was all too late as Gaviria took a convincing win, with Demare and Van Genechten completing the podium.

 

With Paris-Tours done and dusted, the European season is almost over. On Tuesday, the sprinters will be back in action at the Nationale Sluitingsprijs in Belgium and it all ends with the Chrono des Nations time trial on October 23.

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