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After yesterday’s disappointment, Coquard got his revenge when he took a hugely dominant win in the uphill sprint on stage 2 of the Route du Sud; Tronet retained the leader’s jersey

Photo: Sirotti

ARMINDO FONSECA

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BRYAN COQUARD

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DIRECT ENERGIE

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HP - BTP AUBER 93

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LA ROUTE D'OCCITANIE

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STEVEN TRONET

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19.06.2015 @ 16:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After yesterday’s big disappointment, Bryan Coquard (Europcar) got an important confidence boost for the Tour de France when he powered clear to take a hugely dominant sprint win on the uphill finishing straight on stage 2 of the Route du Sud. The Frenchman easily passed Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r) who had hit out early, to take the victory while Steven Tronet (Auber 93) finished just outside the top 10 and so defended his overall lead.

 

On paper Bryan Coquard is the star sprinter in the Route du Sud whose parcours gives plenty of room for his type of riders. With a flat sprint on the final day and two uphill sprints in the first two stages, Coquard has a great chance to boost his confidence as he finalizes his preparations for his second Tour de France.

 

However, yesterday’s opening stage ended as a huge disappointment for Coquard. After his Europcar team had worked immensely hard all day, he came up short in the tough uphill sprint. With Leopnardo Duque (Colombia) hitting out early, he burnt his matches too early and rolled across the line in 16th while Steven Tronet powered clear to the win.

 

Today he was determined to make up for the disappointment and this time he made no mistake. Being well-positioned and staying calm in the hectic finale, he timed his acceleration perfectly on the uphill finishing straight and took a hugely dominant win that gave him plenty of time to celebrate the victory.

 

However, it was again a very exciting finale that nearly saw the sprinters coming up short. With 12km to go, a front sextet was formed when Olivier Le Gac (FDJ), Christopher Juul (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) and Eneko Lizarralde (Murias Taldea) caught Mads Pedersen (Cult) and Yoann Paillot (Marseille). They had an advantage of 45 seconds but only Le Gac, Juul, Pedersen and Sütterlin were able to work in the group.

 

In the peloton, the Auber 93 team od race leader Steven Tronet had blown up after hard work all day and it was now Colombia and Europcar chasing, with Daniel Martinez, Cayetano Sarmiento, Jerome Cousiin and Yukiya Arashiro trading pulls. They gradually got closer and had brought the gap down to 30 seconds with 8km to go.

 

The Colombia riders disappeared from the front and so Europcar had to use more riders for the chase. With 5km to go, Angelo Tulik and Cousin were working hard but the gap was still 25 seconds.

 

Yoann Gene and Tulik were the only riders left to do the work with 4km to go when Juul tried to attack in the break. The Dane failed to get clear and the acceleration meant that Pedersen was no longer taking turns.

 

Ag2r had now taken control of the peloton with Yoann Gene and he traded pulls with Gene. With 2km to go, the gap was still 15 seconds.

 

Passing the 1.5km to go mark, Juul attacked again and this time he managed to get clear. Sütterlin did not receive any help in the chase group from Lizarralde had been dropped.

 

Just after the flamme rouge, Sütterlin brought the front group back together. Juul rode on the fornt until Paillot attacked with 500m to go. Only Le Gac could follow his pace and he managed to pass his fading compatriot.

 

However, the peloton was breathing down their necks and after Leonardo Duque (Colombia) had done a lead-out for Edwin Avila, it was Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r) who launched a big acceleration. The Frenchman flew past Le Gac and seemed to be on the verge of taking a big win.

 

However, Coquard was in a great position and when he hit the gas, he was in a class of his own. He easily passed Jauregui and had plenty of time to celebrate his win while the frustrated Ag2r rider banged the handlebars in frustration. Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne) completed the podium.

 

Tronet finished just outside the top 10 and that was enough for him to defend his overall lead. He has an advantage of 3 seconds over Coquard as they go into the queen stage. However, it will be impossible for him to defend his positon tomorrow when the riders tackle a brutal course in the Pyrenees. In the first hald they will tackle the category 1 Haut-Balestas and Col de Val Louron Azet climbs before Port de Bales awaits in the finale. The summit is located just 20.7km from the finish and from there it is a technical descent fot the line in Bagneres-de-Luchon.

 

One for the puncheurs

After yesterday’s stage, the puncheurs were expected to have another chance in stage 2 which brought the riders over just 141km from Auch to Saint-Gaudens. After a flat first part, the terrain got hillier at the midpoint where the riders tackled two category 3 climbs. The final ascent was located 57km from the finish and from there the terrain was flatter. The riders ended the stage by doing one lap of 35.8km finishing circuit which only included one small uncategorized climb before the riders got to the uphill finishing straight.

 

It had been raining a bit in the morning but when the riders gathered for the start, it was dry and hot. One rider was not present as Cyril Gautier (Europcar) was a non-starter.

 

The break is formed

Right from the start, Samuel Magalhaes (Radio Popular), Mads Pedersen (Cult) and Yoann Paillot (Marseille) and they were quickly joined by Eneko Lizarralde (Murias Taldea). Camilo Castiblance (Colombia) took off in pursuit and he had to work hard to make the junction while the peloton was pleased to let them rider away.

 

After 10km of racing, Castiblanco joined the leaders who already had an advantage if 2 minutes and it quickly went out to 3 minutes. Here the Auber 93 team of race leader Tronet took control and they lined out their entire team on the front to keep the gap stable between 2.30 and 3.00.

 

Auber 93 in control

Jonathan Hivert (Bretagne) worked his way back to the peloton after a puncture while Julian Guay, Guillaume Levarlet, Danid Menut and Maxime Reanult traded pulls on the front. Meanwhile, Magalhaes beat Pedersen, Castiblanco and Lizarralde in the first KOM sprint.

 

As the peloton took a natural break, the gap went out to 3.10 before Auber 93 went back to work and started to slowly reel the escapees back. When Paillot led Lizzaraldo and Castiblanco across the line in the first intermediate sprint, the gap was only 2.30. Linus Gerdemann (Cult) and Yann Guyot (Armee) worked their way back to the peloton after a puncture.

 

The gap comes down

In the feed zone with 65km to go, Auber 93 had brought the gap down to 2.15 and the downwards trend continued. When Magalhaes beat Castiblanco, Paillot and Lizzaralde in the final KOM sprint 10km later, the escapees were only 2 minutes ahead.

 

Auber 93 kept the gap stable around 2 minutes before they started to accelerate as they approached the first passage of the finish line where the final KOM sprint was contested. Here Castiblanco led Magalhaes and Lizzaralde across the line.

 

Pedersen attacks

When the riders hit the small uncategorized climb with 32km to go, the gap was only 1.20 and this was the signal for Pedersen to attack. Magalhaes fell off immediately while Lizarralde suffered immensely. When Paillot countered, the Basque was briefly dropped but he made it back to the leaders on the descent.

 

Meanwhile, the attacking started in the peloton as Christopher Juul (Tinkoff-Saxo) took off. He was joined by Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) and Olivier Le Gac (FDJ) and those three riders got a small advantage.

 

Auber 93 on the defensive

The attacking continued and suddenly a 15-rider group with Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana had formed. However, Auber 93 managed to bring them back just after the top and Theo Vimpere immediately started to chase for Auber 93. Magalhaes was also brought back.

 

Pedersen attacked on another small climb and this year the young Dane got clear. Paillot took off in pursuit and after a hard effort he managed to make it back to Pedersen.

 

Europcar starts to chase.

At one point, the gap had been down to less than 1 minute but as they entered the final 20km, Pedersen and Paillot had extended it to 1.15. Meanwhile, Le Gac, Juul Jensen and Sütterlin hd caught Castiblanco and Lizzaralde. The quintet was 40 seconds behind the leaders.

 

In the peloton, Europcar and Auber 93 were chasing, with Vimpere, Jerome Cousin, Giovanni Bernadeau and Yukiya Arashiro trading pulls. However, the gap only came down slowly and with 16km to go it was still 1.00.

 

Pedersen tried to attack again on a small climb but Paillot again time trialled his way back to the leader. Meanwhile, Castiblanco was dropped from the chase group which was now just 20 seconds behind. Moments later, the junction between the two groups was made, setting the scene for the finale.

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