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"I'm happy to beat guys like Degenkolb and Bouhanni, that is a first. I am happy to come here stronger than last year. That is normal after a first season in the pro ranks which helped me to grow a lot," Coquard says

Photo: Sirotti

BRYAN COQUARD

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ETOILE DE BESSÈGES

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07.02.2014 @ 20:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Bryan Coquard (Europcar) continued his love story with the Etoile de Besseges that was the scene for his first professional wins two years ago when he beat Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) to win the hard third stage of the race. Despite having enjoyed plenty of success one year ago, he insists that he is stronger this time around.

 

One year ago Bryan Coquard got his professional career off to a flying start when the rider who had until then been mostly known for his omnium silver medal from the 2012 Olympics and his silver medal from the 2012 U23 World Championships, won two stages in the Etoile de Besseges. This year he is back in the French race and after a slow start, he has returned to his winning ways in Besseges.

 

Coquard survived three passages of the Col de Trelys on the hilly 3rd stage but still had to overcome the collective sprinting might of yesterday's winner Nacer Bouhanni and John Degenkolb. However, the young Frenchman proved that he belongs to the very top of the sprinting world when he narrowly held off the duo to take the win.

 

With Coquard in the ranks, Europcar has decided to up its commitment to sprinting by signing veteran lead-out rider Jimmy Engoulvent. Coquard was happy to get their cooperation off to a flying start.

 

"I'm happy, especially for the team," he told Directvelo. "Yesterday I was actually very disappointed for the guys who had worked so great. I always had complete confidence in the team even if we perhaps lack some of our automatisms as it is the first time we work with Jimmy [Engoulvent]. We cannot say that it is perfect yet but I am still very happy with what we did today. I hope that our train will be oiled as soon as possible."

 

Last year Coquard was the dominant sprinter in the French race but he insists that a year at the highest level has upped his game even further.

 

"The season starts well," he said. "I'm happy to beat guys like Degenkolb and Bouhanni, that is a first. I am happy to come here stronger than last year. That is normal after a first season in the pro ranks which helped me to grow a lot."

 

Tomorrow the peloton faces the queen stage which includes two passages of a very steep climb inside the final 30km. However, Coquard has not given up hope of another win

 

"I hope it will still be manageable tomorrow," he said. "I think it will a stage for attackers who want to reshape the GC. "

 

Coquard is planning for a  big year that will see him make his Tour de France debut. His first big goal is the Paris-Nice.

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