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After an extremely fast race that was done at almost 50km/h, Trentin arrived at the finish with van der Sande and Van Avermaet and narrowly held off the Lotto Soudal rider to win Paris-Tours

Photo: © Etixx - Quick-Step / Tim de Waele

DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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GREG VAN AVERMAET

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MATTEO TRENTIN

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PARIS - TOURS

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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11.10.2015 @ 17:41 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep) continued what has been a dream end to his 2015 season by taking his first big classics win in a brutally fast edition of Paris-Tours. After a race that was done at almost 50km/h, he made the gradual selections to finally arrived at the finish with Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and after the latter had been taken out by a puncture, he narrowly held off the former to take his fourth win since August.

 

It is no secret that the end of the season is often dominated by a select few riders who have managed to maintain both the condition and motivation for the final part of the year. In 2015, it has been no exception and one of the riders who have been on fire since August is Matteo Trentin.

 

The Italian was disappointed with his performances in the spring and the Tour de France but prepared carefully for the second part of the year with a solid training camp at altitude. That paid off immediately as he won two stages in the Tour de Poitou-Charentes and since then he has simply been unstoppable.

 

Trentin went on to win what many described as the hardest stage they had ever done at the Tour of Britain and that was enough to earn selection for the Italian Worlds team. After a slightly disappointing performance in Richmond, he returned to Europe full of motivation and has managed to end his season with two great races.

 

He was second behind Jan Bakelants in GranPiemonte and today he took his first classics win when he came out on top in Paris-Tours. Instead of waiting for a sprint finish, he excelled in the tough conditions that split the race to pieces and he finally won a three-rider sprint.

 

The race was on right from the start and already after 11km of racing, the crosswind had split the peloton. 31 riders got clear and they would ultimately go on to decide the race as the chase efforts of Cofidis and Trek failed.

 

As they entered the final 30km, the group had been whittled down to 25 riders and it was Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen), Tony Gallopin, Tiesj Benoot, Pim Ligthart, Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Arnaud Demare (FDJ), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r), Yves Lampaert, Matteo Trentin, Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff-Saxo), Arnaud Gerard, Benoit Jarrier (Bretagne), Twan Castelijns, Mike Teunissen, Maarten Wynants (LottoNL-Jumbo), Heinrich Haussler, Roger Kluge (IAM), Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin), Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Argon 18), Roy Jans (Wanty), Brian van Goethem (Roompot), Romain Combaud and Julien Duval (Armee) that entered the hilly section with an advantage of 2.15 over Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen) Michael Schär (BMC), Niki Terpstra, Julien Vermote (Etixx-QuickStep), Marco Coledan (Trek), Romain Guillemois (Europcar), Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), Simon Pellaud (IAM), Max Wahlscheid (Giant-Alpecin) and Marco Marcato (Wanty) who were their nearest chasers after a brutally fast race that had seen them average almost 50km/h. The attacking started when they hit the Cote de Crochu and it was van der Sande who made the first unsuccessful move.

 

Gougeard was the next to try but it was Ligthart who got a small gap. When he was brought back, Castelijns gave it a go but the WorldTour team marked each other closely.

 

Things were different when Duval gave it a try and he managed to get a small gap. However, Etixx-QuickStep had full confidence in Trentin and so they put Meersman on the front to lead the chase. That allowed Teunissen and van der Sande to jump across and later Lampaert, Brutt, Haussler, Wynants, Jans, Jarrier and Gougeard also made the junction. However, it came back together with 21km to.

 

With 20km to go, the chasers were 2.05 behind and it was clear that they wouldn’t get back in contention. That allowed the attacking to continue and it was Jarrier who launched a solo move. LottoNL-Jumbo were very aggressive and attacks from Teunissen and Wynants brought the Frenchman back though.

 

The elastic snapped when Combaud attacked and he was joined by Gerard to form a duo that quickly got an advantage of 15 seconds. Again Etixx-QuickStep started to chase and it was Meersman who kept the gap at 15 seconds for more than 5km. Further back, Terpstra and Marcato had escaped but were still 2 minutes behind.

 

Meersman slowly started to reel the attackers back and they were back in the fold with 12km to go. Moments later, Meersman swung off and it was Kluge who took over before Theuns led the peloton onto the Cote de Beau Soleil.

 

Theuns launched a strong attack that made the group explode but he was unable to get clear. Instead, he was countered by Trentin and he was strong enough to make a difference as only Van Avermaet and van der Sande could match his pace.

 

Brutt managed to join them after the climb while a chase group with Wynants, Teunissen, Gallopin, benoot, Demare, Theuns, Jans, haussler, Ligthart, Jarrier, Curvers and Lampaert gathered. Moments later they hit the final challenge of the Cote de l’Epan where Van Avermaet went full gas. Brutt was dropped and Trentin and van der Sande both had to dig very deep to stay with the Belgian but they managed to stay in contact as they crested the summit. Further back, Gallopin went hard and was joined by Curvers and Jarrier but the chase group would come back together.

 

With 6km to go, the front trio had an advantage of 25 seconds and as they were working great together, they managed to keep that gap. Meanwhile, Gougeard and Castelijns rejoined the chasers and the Frenchman went straight to the front.

 

Gougeard didn’t get any help and so the gap had gone out to 30 seconds with 2km to go and the only outcome of his efforts was to catch Brutt. Meanwhile, the front trio cooperation until the approached the flamme rouge where disaster struck for Van Avermaet.

 

The BMC rider realized that he had a slow puncture and briefly allowed a gap to open. He slotted back into third behind Trentin and van der Sande and allowed the Italian to set the pace for the entire final kilometre.

 

The Etixx rider finally launched a long sprint and a disappointed Van Avermaet didn’t even try to respond. Instead, it was van der Sande who tried to pass but came up short and had to settle for third. Benoot made a late attack from the chase group and narrowly managed to hold his chasers off to take fourth before Jans beat Lampaert and Haussler in the sprint for fifth.

 

With Paris-Tours done and dusted, the classics season is now over. There are just two races left in Europe: Tuesday’s Nationale Sluitiprijs in Belgium and Sunday’s time trial GP de Nations in France.

 

A traditional course

The 109th edition of Paris-Tours was held on 231km course that brought the riders from Chartres to the traditional finish on the Avenue de Grammont in Tours. As usual, the terrain was mostly flat on winding, narrow roads but in the final 30km, the riders tackled three climbs. The Cote de Crochu with 28km to go was the first challenge but the main difficulties were the Cote de Beau Soleil and Cote de l’Epan inside the final 10km. The final 7km were mainly flat, with the race finishing on the wide Avenue de Grammont in Tours.

 

It was a perfect sunny day when the riders gathered for the start in Chartres but it all got off to a very dramatic beginning. Already in the first kilometre, Trek lost their captain as Giacomo Nizzolo crashed hard and was forced to abandon.

 

The peloton splits to pieces

Things didn’t calm down after the crash as crosswinds made the peloton split and it was a 31-rider group that emerged in front. Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaandenren), Tony Gallopin, Tiesj Benoot, Pim Ligthart, Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Arnaud Demare (FDJ), Greg Van Avermaet, Tom Bohli (BMC), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r), Yves Lampaert, Matteo Trentin, Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff-Saxo), Arnaud Gerard, Benoit Jarrier, Kevin Ledanois (Bretagne), Twan Castelijns, Mike Teunissen, Maarten Wynants (LottoNL-Jumbo), Heinrich Haussler, Roger Kluge (IAM), Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin), Christoph Pfingsten, Daniel Schorn (Bora-Argon 18), Roy Jans, Kevin van Melsen (Wanty), Evaldas Siskevicius (Marseille), Nic Dougall (MTN-Qhubeka), Brian van Goethem (Roompot), Romain Combaud and Julien Duval (Armee) had an advantage of 35 seconds at the 11km mark and it went out to 45 seconds at a point when a third group found itself at 1.20. Schorn quickly fell of the pace.

 

It was a fierce pursuit between the three groups. After 40km of racing, the 60-rider second group was still 30 seconds behind while the second group was at 1.35. The two big groups finally merged but found themselves 1.40 behind the 30 leaders at the 50km mark.

 

The gap widens

The riders had covered 52.5km during the first hour and things didn’t slow down as Trek, Europcar and MTN-Qhubeka were chasing hard. However, they had seen the gap go out to 2.05 with 170km to go.

 

Trek, Europcar, Roubaix, Auber, Novo Nordisk and Cofidis had all missed the move completely and so there was plenty of interest in bringing the break back. Nonetheless, the gap slowly continued to grow and it was 4.10 when 95km had been covered.

 

The riders ended the second hour with an average speed of 50.9km/h due to the strong front group which pushed their advantage out to 4.50 at the 116km mark. The front group was now starting to split as van Melsen, Ledanois, Bohli, Dougall and Siskevicius were dropped.

 

A chase group is formed

Further back, the attacking started in the peloton and a 19-rider group took off in pursuit of the leaders. Jelle Wallays, Oliver Naesen (Topsport Vlaanderen), Nacer Bouhanni, Christophe Laporte (Cofidis), Michael Schär (BMC), Niki Terpstra, Julien Vermote (Etixx-QuickStep), Michael Kolar (Tinkoff-Saxo), Marco Coledan (Trek), Romain Guillemois (Europcar), Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), Sondre Holst Enger, Simon Pellaud (IAM), Ramon Sinkeldam, Max Wahlscheid (Giant-Alpecin), Marco Marcato (Wanty), Alexandre Blain (Marseille) and Johann van Zyl (MTN-Qhubeka) slowly started to approach the leaders and had brought the gap down to 3.40 at the end of the third hour. At this point, the peloton was already more than 6 minutes behind.

 

With 65km to go, the gaps were 2.45 and 6.45 respectively but now the progress of the chase group would stall. The gap stayed around 2.45 for a while and the cooperation gradually weakened. Meanwhile, the peloton continued to lose ground and was 7.30 behind as they entered the final 50km.

 

The chase group splits up

The chase group picked up the riders that had been dropped from the front group but as they were not getting any closer the attacking started. Wahlscheid was the first to try with 38km to go and when he was brought back, Guillemois and Van Asbroeck made an unsuccessful move.

 

The attacking had brought the gap down to 2.15 with 30km to go when a crash split the chase group, leaving just Wallays, Terpstra, Marcato, Van Asbroeck, Coledan, Vermote, Schär, Guillemois and Pellaud in the first group. However, they would never make it back and moments later they hit the Cote de Crochu where the final action started.

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