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”I did not know where the finish was. When I passed Adri (Petit) with 200 meters to go, I was hoping that the line was not too close."

Photo: Sirotti

ANGEL MADRAZO

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ARNAUD DEMARE

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BRYAN COQUARD

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CAJA RURAL - SEGUROS RGA

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CARLOS BARBERO

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CIRCUS-WANTY GOBERT

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DIRECT ENERGIE

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ETOILE DE BESSÈGES

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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IAM CYCLING

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JONATHAN HIVERT

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KEVIN LEDANOIS

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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MATTEO PELUCCHI

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NIPPO DELKO PROVENCE

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ROTH-SKODA

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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04.02.2016 @ 21:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) continued his dream start to the 2016 season when he made it two wins on the second day of racing for him this year. In a dramatic finale, he passed early escapee Dimitri Claeys (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) just 10m from the line and managed to hold off Matteo Pelucchi (IAM) to take the victory while the impressive Claeys rolled across the line in third. Coquard also extended the overall lead.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Bryan Coquard: I just hoped that the finish line was not too close

"I saw Dimitri Claeys at the finish,” Coquard told Directvelo. “Until then I did not know if we could to win. We have taken responsibility for the race. I must applaud Antoine Duchesne and Perrig Quémeneur. They spent the day chasing five escapees. The wind was from the front and they were strong. 

 

“We were up against two very strong riders (Claeys and Reus, ed.). They nearly made a cup. We chased on the final circuit with Thomas Voeckler and Julien Morice. We only got help with three laps to go. Everyone panicked at that point but it could have been too late. It was hectic! 

 

”I did not know where the finish was. When I passed Adri (Petit) with 200 meters to go, I was hoping that the line was not too close. 

 

“I'm happy for myself and for the guys. The sprint group confirms itself. It is really going well. I have a very strong team. I think we have the the strongest team here. It is gratifying to see riders like Thomas (Voeckler) and Sylvain (Chavanel) help me as well. This is heart-warming. And that means I have a minimum of talent anyway (smiles). 

 

”I am leading the race but once I am no longer on the bike, they are my role models. I open my eyes when I'm with them. I listen a lot. These are phenomena in cycling, great riders." 

 

Matteo Pelucchi gains confidence from second place in Besseges

“This is good for the team and for me.  I have not made a very strong start this year.  After that first sprint on Wednesday, which was one to forget for me, I felt more comfortable today, even if this is not my preferred type of arrival,” Matteo Pelucchi confided at the end of the stage after having visited the doping control.  “I was on Bryan Coquard’s wheel for the finale.  At the left hand turn with 250 meters to go to the line, I lost a few meters in the surge, and was not able to get them back.”

 

Lionel Marie, who is the IAM Cycling directeur sportif at the 46th edition of l’Etoile de Bessèges along with Thierry Marichal, was able to take pleasure in the second place finish for his sprinter. 

 

“I am very happy for Matteo.  This result should give him the confidence he needs for the races he has to look forward to on his program.  The team worked really hard all day.  We took our part in the responsibility of riding behind to reel in the breakaway with Oliver Naesen, Larry Warbasse, and Jonathan Fumeaux all doing some work.  And those efforts paid off. Our only concern was that this type of circuit really isn’t conducive to this sort of sprint finish, which I think is partly to blame for precipitating the crash in the final kilometer.” 

 

When it came time to pedal off to sign in for the start of the stage, Sondre Holst Enger  took off on the bike of his teammate Larry Warbasse.  Realizing his mistake after 300 meters or so, Holst Enger sheepishly returned to the bus to give back Warbasse’s bike and to take his own.

 

This is the third podium place IAM Cycling has earned since the beginning of the week.  Leigh Howard opened the tally on Sunday morning with a second place finish at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race followed Sunday afternoon with Dries Devenyns’ victory at the GP La Marseillaise.  And now Pelucchi makes it three.

 

Stage just 15 metres too long for Dimitri Claeys in Besseges

For the second day in a row a Wanty-Groupe Gobert rider ended up on the podium in the Etoile de Bessèges. Dimitri Claeys came in third in the stage won by Bryan Coquard but Claeys was secretly hoping for more than third.

“I wanted to test myself today. Towards the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad I need a few extra per cents and you don't gain those by just sitting in the bunch," Claeys explains.

The stage between Nîmes and Méganne Le Clap measured 153 kilometres. Just before the local circuits there was a long climb awaiting the riders.

“I studied the roadbook well and wanted to try something on that climb. The cooperation in the breakaway was good untill that moment. On the climb my final started. My former Veranda's Willems teammate and good friend Kai Reus and I went very deep untill the finish line."

Eventually the peloton caught Claeys just in time to sprint for the victory. At less than 20 metres from the line Claeys saw Coquard and Matteo Pelucchi pass him by.

“I have given a lot today and to be honest I have felt better. I was counting and calculating in my head the whole time. It would be close, very close. In the end it wasn't to my advantage," Claeys said disappointed.

“My goal is now to do a good overall here. I am now second at 13 seconds from Bryan Coquard. Sunday the race ends with a 12-kilometre time trial. I want to try and give my all that day to finish this race well in the overall classification."

Claeys' first big goal of the season is Omloop het Nieuwsblad. He finished on the podium in the past four years in the espoirs race, including two wins.

Antoine Demoitié sprinted again in the peloton and finished seventh today.

"At the bell, there was still 56 seconds for Dimitri (Claeys) and Kai Reus,” sports director Hilaire van der Schueren told Directvelo. “Dimitri is very disappointed to have been caught so close to the line. We know it is not easy to win here, especially given the sprinters at this Etoile de Bessèges. Dimitri has done his best to win the stage. We have a great team. It's interesting to see." 

 

No frustration for Arnaud Demare after fifth place in Besseges

Everything was not great in the finale of the second stage of the Etoile de Bessèges but Arnaud Démare, fifth, confirmed his improved power in the wake of his teammates who rode strongly in the final to set up a sprint. 
 

"There was not a lot of teams who chased behind the lone leader,” explains sports director Yvon Madiot. “And we went there to give us the chance of a sprint. Thibaut Pinot and Sébastien Reichenbach really worked hard in the finale the train of Arnaud Démare was set up but unfortunately Daniel Hoelgaard who was much better today, was involved in a crash under the red flame in of front Mika Delage and Arnaud who was disturbed by that.

 

”The guys were in single file in the home straight but Arnaud was able to make his sprint behind Mika who really set him up. This time there is no frustration. We ARE quietly back in the game even if Coquard (Direct Energy) seems a little above the rest.”

 

Talented Swiss sprinter takes the white jersey in Besseges

Dylan Page finished 16th in the sprint and the Team Roth rider is now the best young rider.

 

"There was a crash in the last kilometer after a succession of corners. At that point, the asphalt was not in great condition. I was 8th or 9th and they crashed in front of me. It's a shame as there were things to achieve,” he told Directvelo.

 

“I'll try to spend the day quietly on Friday, and I'll have another chance on Saturday's stage. L'Etoile de Bessèges is a great race so I am pleased to wear a distinctive jersey. It's good for the confidence and for my team. 

 

”I started the season well, finishing 3rd in a race in Mallorca so I arrived confident in Bessèges. I was here last year and now I am more fit. It's a good thing for the future. When you wear a jersey, it means that you don’t have too much to catch up on." 

 

Delko Marseille climber tests in legs in breakaway in Besseges

New Delko Marseille signing Quentin Pacher was in the breakaway.

 

"The start was uphill. Yesterday everybody wanted to be in the break. So the next day, often no one wants to go into the break and nobody wants to control the peloton,” he told Directvelo.

 

“In the breakaway, Dimitri Claeys was really above the rest. He did much stronger turns. Instead of taking the longest relay, he put us in the wind. You could see he was strong. 

 

”He attacked on the climb. I went there once, twice and then I was dropped. I did not have very good legs. They were three left (Clayes, Baldo and Reus, ed). Again, Claeys was above the rest. 

 

”I have worked well for the future. I do not have great feelings. I am waiting for courses that suit me better, and that means hillier terrain.”
 

Van der Sande caught behind crash in Besseges sprint

After he received a time penalty yesterday, Lotto Soudal sprinter Tosh van der Sande missed out in today’s sprint.

 

“Behind the crash last 800m ! Again strong ride of @Lotto_Soudal ! Tmrw the queen stage... #EtoiledeBesseges,” he tweeted after the stage.

 

Crash forces Carlos Barbero to abandon the Etoile de Besseges

Caja Rural - Seguros RGA had to see Carlos Barbero abandon the race after crashing on Thursday’s stage 2. This left the team without many chances in the sprint for the win. Ángel Madrazo finished in 26th place as the best Caja Rural - Seguros RGA rider of the day. An update on Barbero’s condition will be given in due time. 

 

“Two sprint finishes in @Etoile_Besseges and two big crashes. My feelings are good and I hope to continue with them,” Madrazo tweeted.

 

Knee injury takes Jonathan Hivert out of the Etoile de Besseges

Like yesterday a crash behind the Direct Energie train destroyed the sprint for Fortuneo-Vital Concept. The six survivors are reclassified in the same time as the winner and therefore 20 seconds behind in the overall standings.

 

Kevin Ledanois almost finished the stage in the peloton despite his wounds suffered yesterday. As feared, Jonathan Hivert had to give up due to knee pain. He had targeted both Bessèges and the beginning of the season.

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