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Being the only rider to cover the 11.9km course in less than 17 minutes, Coppel won the final time trial at the Etoile de Besseges ahead of Pinot and Peraud; he also took the overall victory as Chavanel could only manage fifth

Photo: Sirotti

ETOILE DE BESSÈGES

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IAM CYCLING

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JEAN-CHRISTOPHE PÉRAUD

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JEROME COPPEL

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THIBAUT PINOT

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TONY GALLOPIN

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07.02.2016 @ 17:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jerome Coppel (IAM) confirmed his status as the best French time triallist when he took a dominant win in the final stage of the Etoile de Besseges. The Worlds bronze medallist was the only rider to cover the 11.9km course in less than 17 minutes and put 14 seconds into Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) in second while Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) was 15 second off the pace in third. That was enough to take the overall win with a 13-second advantage over Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) and 14-second advantage over Pinot.

 

In 2012, Jerome Coppel kicked off one of his best seasons by winning both the final time trial and the overall at the Etoile de Besseges. Since then he has been hampered by lots of health issues and he has lost his status as one of the biggest French talents.

 

After joining IAM, Coppel seemed to get back on track in the second half of 2015 when he delivered several solid results, including a victory at the French time trial championships. However, what really caught the attention was his third place at the World TT Championships which confirmed his status as one of the best in the discipline.

 

This made him the obvious favourite for today’s short 11.9km time trial in the Etoile de Besseges which was almost identical to the one he won four years ago. Again it had a flat start and ended with the tough 2km climb of Montee l’Hermitage.

 

Coppel fully lived up to expectations as he was clearly the fastest on the short course, being the only rider to go faster than 17 minutes with a time of 16.48. When he reached the finish, he was 15 seconds fasster than Jean-Christophe Peraud who was the leader at that point but with 10 riders still to come, including some of the best French time triallists, he faced a nervous wait.

 

Thibaut Pinot got close with a time of 17.02 which moved him into second and his teammate Dries Devenyns also had a fine ride with fourth place. However, the real threats were the final three riders, Arthur Vichot (FDJ), Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) and overall leader Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) who had all done well here before or was regarded as specialists.

 

Vichot missed out as he could only manage fifth and Gallopin was unable to repeat last year’s second place as he slotted into fourth. Chavanel was widely regarded as his biggest rival though and there were some tense moments when the race leader approached the finish. However, he stopped the clock in a disappointing 17.18 to slot into fifth and so Coppel could step onto the podium as the stage winner.

 

Coppel had started the stage 14 seconds behind Chavanel in the overall standings and so it became the best possible outcome as he also repeated his overall win from 2012. The battle for the podium was a close one though as Gallopin defended second place, 13 seconds off the pace, while Pinot’s good time trial allowed him to move into third, just one second further back. A disappointed Chavanel slipped to fourth, missing the podium by just two seconds while Vichot completed the top 5.

 

Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) won the points classification and Roland Thalmann (Roth) was the best climber. Pierre Latour (Ag2r) was the best young rider and FDJ won the teams classification.

 

With Etoile de Besseges done and dusted, attention in France turns to the revamped La Mediterraneenne stage race which kicks off on Thursday.

 

A punchy time trial

After four road stages, it was time for the decisive time trial at the Etoile de Besseges. The 11.9km course in Ales had a flat start but it ended with the steep 2km climb to make it a difficult end to a stage that suited the punchy and versatile time triallists more than the real specialists.

 

It was cloudy and the roads were wet when Martin Laas (Delko Marseille) rolled down the ramp as the first rider but the sun quickly came out.  The Estonian stopped the clock in 19.19 to take the lead but was quickly beaten by Matthias Legley (Veranclassic) who was 25 seconds faster.

 

Duchesne takes the lead

No rider managed to go faster than 19 minutes until Perrig Quemeneur (Direct Energie) stopped the clock in 18.52 to take the early lead. However, he was quickly beaten by Yannick Mayer (Veranclassic) who was 17 seconds.

 

Gaetan Pons (Wallonie) was even faster with 18.26 while Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) had to settle for third with 18.39. Instead, it was his teammate Antoine Duchesne who took over the lead with a time of 18.10.

 

Enger gets close

Ruben Pols (Topsport Vlaanderen) slotted into second with 18.21 while Daniel Hoelgaard (FDJ) made it into sixth with 18.41. Brecht Dhaene (Verandas) and Julien Morice (Direct Energie) also had top 10 rides with 18.28 and 18.32 respectively.

 

Quentin Pacher (Delko Marseille) posted the fifth best time with 18.28 and Francois Bidard (Ag2r) slotted into sixth with 18.29. Sondre Holst Enger (IAM) did even better as his 18.25 was good enough for third.

 

Best time for Warbasse

Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r) was even faster with 18.21 which was good enough for third and his teammate Nico Denz made it two Ag2r riders in the top four when he posted the second best time of 18.16. Damien Shaw (An Post) also made it into the top 10.

 

It was Larry Warbasse (IAM) who finally managed to Duchesne as he was 16 seconds faster with a time of 17.54. At this point, the good rides were coming quickly as Dimitri Peyskens (Veranclassic), Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) and Jerome Baugnies (Wanty) all had top 10 performances but it was Adrien Petit (Direct Energie) who moved onto the provisional podium with 18.13.

 

Armee moves into the hot seat

Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) confirmed his good form by positing the second best time of 18.09. Kevin Reza (FDJ) also slotted into the top 10 before Stig Broeckx (Lotto Soudal) set the fourth best time of 18.10.

 

There were top 10 performances for Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Anthony Turgis (Cofidis), Arnaud Demare (FDJ) before Ignatas Konovalovas (FDJ) was just fractions of a second off the podium with 18.10. Moments later, Warbasse was knocked out of the hot seat when Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal) blasted across the line in 17.28.

 

Fumeaux gets close

Dimitri Claeys (Wanty) posted the fifth best time of 18.05 before Jonathan Fumeaux continued the good IAM showing with a time of 17.45 to move into second. Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) got close with 17.48 which was enough for third and Tom Devriendt (Wanty) slotted into fifth with 18.04.

 

Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty) narrowly missed out on the top three with 17.51 before Brice Feillu (Fortuneo Vital Concept) slotted into 6th with 18.00. Arnold Jeannesson (Cofidis) confirmed his good form by posting the ninth fastest time but he was pushed into 10th by Diego Rubio (Caja Rural) who posted a time of 17.58 to move into sixth.

 

Best time for Peraud

Nicolas Vereecken (An Post) was even faster with 17.53 before Olivier Pardini (Wallonie) moved into second with 17.45. He was quickly knocked into third by Maxime Vantomme (Robubaix) who was one second faster.

 

Riders were getting closer to Armee’s time as Oliver Naesen (IAM) was the next rider to move into second with 17.40. He was finally beaten when Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) reached the finish in 17.03 to take comfortable lead.

 

Coppel takes the lead

Seastien Reichenbach (FDJ) slotted into seventh but was immediately knocked into seventh by Julien Antomarchi (Roubaix) whose time of 17.32 was good enough for third. Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal) went one second faster.

 

However, everybody had their eyes on pre-race favourite Coppel and he fully lived up to expectations by stopping the clock in 16.48 which was 15 seconds faster than Peraud. He faced an immediate challenge from Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) but he was 14 seconds off the pace in second place.

 

No glory for Chavanel

Dries Devenyns (IAM) missed out on the podium with the fourth best time while Pierre Latour (Ag2r) moved into fifth. Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) had a disappointing ride for 10th while Arthur Vichot (FDJ) could only manage fifth with 17.21.

 

Everybody was now waiting for Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) and Chavanel. The former was unable to match last year’s performance and 17.13 was only good enough for fourth and when Chavanel had to settle for fifth, Coppel could step onto the podium as both the stage and overall winner.

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