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One week after his stage victory at the Route du Sud, Tronet took a surprise win at the French championships when he beat Gallopin and Chavanel in an uphill sprint; Bouhanni crashed on the finishing straight

Photo: Sirotti










28.06.2015 @ 18:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

One week after taking the biggest win of his career at the Route du Sud, Steven Tronet (Auber 93) took an even bigger victory when he won the French road race championships. With a powerful uphill sprint, he emerged as the fastest from a small 14-rider group, relegating Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) and Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) to the minor podium positions. Anthony Roux (FDJ) crossed the line in second but after he had brought down favourite Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) with a big swerve, he was relegated.


One week ago Steven Tronet made himself known to a larger audience when he used his great puncheur skills to win the first stage of the Route du Sud. Despite that result, he still flew under the radar for today’s French road race championships which had a similar uphill finishing straight that could be suited to the Auber 93 riders.


However, Tronet repeated his excellent performance when it all came down to a sprint from a small 14 –rider group after no less than 51 small climbs and brutal heat had it a race of attrition. With a strong surge, he powered clear and managed to hold off Tony Gallopin and Sylvain Chavanel with a big margin to earn himself a year in the tricolore.


However, the big talking point was Nacer Bouhanni whose Cofidis team had done all the work to bring back a very strong break in the finale. The Frenchman had been in a great position for the sprint when a sudden swerve by Anthony Roux brought him down. Hence, he missed out on the opportunity to win his second title while Roux who crossed the line in second, was relegated.


Tronet won’t get the chance to wear the tricolore when France is back in the cycling spotlight next Saturday with the start of the Tour de France. However, there is a big chance that he finds himself in a bigger team come January…


How it unfolded

The 2015 edition of the French road race championships was held on a very tough 14.7km circuit around the city of Chantonnay that the riders would cover 17 times for an overall distance of 247.4km. It included three short, steep climbs at the midpoint, with the final ascent summiting around 3.5km from the finish.


It was a brutally hot day in France when the riders took the start as there was no wind and a 30-degree temperature. Just after the flag was waved, Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Sebastien Turgot (Ag2r), Brice Feillu (Bretagne), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) and Rudy Barbier (Roubaix) escaped and they quickly got a 25-second advantage.


Europcar had missed the move and so they started to chase. They managed to bring the break back before the end of the first lap, opening the door for new attacks.


The next move was formed by Loic Chetout (Cofidis), Barbier, Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne), William Bonnet (FDJ), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r), Kevin Lebreton (Armee), Alexis Guerin (AWT), and Damien Monier (Bridgestone) and they quickly built a gap of 15 seconds. However, Europcar had again missed out and so they were again forced on the defensive, bringing the gap down to 8 seconds.


However, Europcar lost the battle and as they slowed down, the gap went out to 2 minutes at the end of the second lap. Morgan Lamoisson, Julien Morice and Guillaume Thevenot had the responsibility to set the pace for Europcar in the early part and they had brought the gap down to 1.32 at the end of the third lap.


While Corentin Cherhal (Novo Nordisk) abandoned, Europcar continued their steady comeback, bringing the gap down to 1.06 at the end of the next lap. With a big acceleration, they brought it down to 11 seconds and that allowed Jimmy Engoulvent, Jerome Cousin (Europcar) and Turgot to bridge across while the peloton split into two big groups.


Thomas Boudat, Tony Hurel (Europcar), Anthony Roux (FDJ), Pierre-Roger Latour (Ag2r), Lemoine and Florian Senechal (Cofidis) took off in pursuit while FDJ took over the pace-setting in the peloton. As several attacks were launched, it was impossible for anyone to control and at the end of the lap, a 32-rider group had gone clear.


Barbier, Chetout, Boudat, Turgot, Olivier Le Gac (FDJ), Romain Le Roux (Armee), Yannick Martinez (Europcar), Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne), Jeremy Roy, Lebreton, Gougeard, Cousin, Bonnet, Mikael Chérel (Ag2r), Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (FDJ), Guerin, Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar), Clement St. Martin (Marseille), Fabrice Jeandesboz (Europcar), Monier, Hurel, Fonseca, Senechal, Adrien Petit (Cofidis), Romain Hardy (Cofidis), Julien Antomarchi (Roubaix), Yoann Gene (Europcar), Lemoine, Christophe Riblon (Ag2r), Latour, Cedric Pineau (FDJ) and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) had made it into the group and they quickly got an advantage of 25 seconds. However, there was no great cooperation and so Lecuisinier, Gougeard, Hardy and Jeandesboz quickly took off


The rest of the break was caught while several riders were dropped and Thevenot abandoned the race. At the end of the sixth lap, the front quartet had an advantage of 5 seconds over Nicolas Baldo (Vorarlberg) while the peloton was at 12 seconds. Baldo made the junction but at the 89km mark it all came back together.


FDJ rode on the front while the peloton took a short breather but the attacking soon started again. At the 100km mark, Jerome Coppel (IAM), Matthieu Boulo (Bretagne), Julian Guay (Auber 93), Rudy Molard, Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Bryan Nauleau, Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Francis Mourey (FDJ) and Latour had a 3-second advantage over Riblon, Jerome Mainard (Armee), Le Gac and Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), 20 seconds over Morgan Kneisky (Raleigh) and 34 seconds over the peloton. Bonnet set the pace in the bunch which slowed down a bit while the four chasers joined the front group.


Marseille had missed the move and so they started to chase when the gap had gone out to more than a minute. However, they were unable to bring the escapees back and the gap soon went out to 4.00. At this point, Kneisky was one minute behind.


The gap had reached 5.45 before Bretagne decided to chase, putting Brice Feillu, Delaplace and Florian Guillou on the front. That allowed Boulo to skip turns in the break while the peloton slowly brought the gap down to 4.58 at the end of the 8th lap.


Feillu was now the only rider working in the peloton and he quickly brought Kneisky back. Roubaix started to work with the Bretagne rider as Jeremy Leveau also took a few turns on the front. As they entered the final 100km, the gap was 4.35. and it was now Feillu, Christophe Laborie, Leveau and Guillou working on the front.


Laborie and Feillu finished their work while Monier was dropped from the front group. At the end of the 11th lap, the escapees still had an advantage of 2.32.


Fonseca, Delaplace and Frederic Brun had now taken over the pace-setting for Bretagne while Gougeard was the next rider to get dropped from the break. At the end of the next lap, they had brought the gap down to 1.30.


Delaplace, Florian Vachon, Kevin Ledanois and Pierre-Luc Perichon were the next riders to work for Bretagne while riders constantly dropped off. Finally, they got some help when FDJ took over.


Their fast pace created a big selection and brought the gap down to 58 seconds at the next passage of the line. They again left it to Bretagne to lead the chase with Delaplace, Vachon, Ledanois and Perichon.


When the gap was down to 13 second, the attacking started when Gautier and Riblon took off. Coppel and Molard joined them before Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Damien Gaudin (Ag2r) briedged across from the peloton.


Those six riders ended the 14th lap with an advantage of 34 seconds over the peloton in which Lecuisinier, Kevin Reza and Arnaud Courteille were working for FDJ. The group had been whittled down to about 50 riders.


Gautier did a lot of work for Voeckler before he was dropped with 35km to go. At this point, the gap was still 35 seconds.


Warren Barguil (Giantl-Alpecin) attacked from the peloton as the situation got very confusing with riders all over the road. He was joined by Romain Bardet (Ag2r) and Antomarchi and those 3 riders managed to bridge a 30-second gap to join the leaders just before they started the penultimate lap.


Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Julien Loubet (Marseille) had also taken off in pursuit and were now just 18 seconds behind the leaders while the peloton was at 1.07. Here Cofidis had taken complete control as they tried to set Bouhanni up for the win.


Demare dropped Loubet and was getting closer to the front. Meanwhile, Amael Moinard (BMC) tried to attack from the peloton and he quickly caught the fading Demare.


At the start of the final lap, the two chasers were at 37 seconds while the peloton was at 59 seconds. As they were losing ground quickly, the attacking started in the front group but no one managed to get clear.


Geoffrey Soupe, Nicolas Edet, Stephane Rossetto, Anthony Turgis and Julien Simon were still at Bouhanni’s side and they now upped the pace. They quickly brought Demare and Moinard back and also controlled a counterattack from Yoann Offredo (FDJ).


With 11km to go, the gap was still 30 seconds and moments later Gaudin was dropped from the front group. Meanwhile, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) and Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) split the peloton on the hardest climb.


Bargul attacked from the break and was joined by Voeckler while the rest of the group was caught by the very small peloton that was again led by Cofidis. With 5km to go, they brought the leaders back.


Voeckler tried an unsuccessful attack before Rossetto and Simon led Bouhanni under th flamme rouge. Gallopin launched the sprint but in the end Tronet came out on top.



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