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  "The guys did all they could," sport direct Ismael Mottier tells

Photo: ASO/P.Perreve

DAMIEN GAUDIN

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DIRECT ENERGIE

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PARIS - NICE

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05.03.2013 @ 12:27 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

 

With Damien Gaudin's surprise victory in the prologue of Paris-Nice, Team Europcar had a tough ask to protect the leader's jersey in yesterday's first stage. In the end they were unsuccessful, but the team's director was full of praise of his team's effort throughout a hectic day.

 

Damien Gaudin's overall lead in Paris-Nice was very slim after his narrow victory in Sunday's prologue. With bonus seconds up for grabs and a number of sprinters in striking distance of his yellow jersey, it was always going to be difficult for the team to keep its position at the top of the leader board.

 

However, the team did all it could to make sure that Gaudin would stay in yellow at the end of the day. When the day's early break went clear in the opening kilometers of the stage, the team assumed its position at the front of the peloton and stayed there for most of the stage.

 

Sport director Ismael Mottier was happy with the situation.

 

"By allowing the break to get clear we knew that they would take all the time bonuses and that would suit us perfectly," Mottier said. "With that in mind, Damien had a larger chance of holding on to the yellow jersey."

 

With help from FDJ and Argos-Shimano, the team remained in control of the stage until a number of accelerations by OmegaPharma-QuickStep, BMC and Blanco in the crosswinds split the group. The team did a beautiful job in the hard conditions by keeping Gaudin, the team's sprinter Sebastien Turgot and GC hopeful Thomas Voeckler near the front.

 

When the peloton roared up the finishing straight for the final bunch sprint, the team hoped that Turgot would be able to take the bonus seconds away from riders threatening Gaudin's lead However, he only managed 14th, and with victory for Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), Gaudin was forced to hand over the jersey to the French champion.

 

Despite the unsuccessful outcome, Mottier had all but praise for his team's efforts.

 

"We can have no regrets," he said. "The guys did what was necessary. We controlled the stage but the end result just didn't go our way."

 

The race continues today with another flat stage, and the team will look to Turgot to excel in the expected bunch sprint. With bonus seconds on the line, a top result for last year's runner-up in Paris-Roubaix may give back the lead to the Vendee-based squad.

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