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Having attacked out of a 40-rider lead group, Fedrigo managed to hold off four chasers to take his first win in Bretagne colours at Cholet-Pays de Loire; Insausti and Planckaert completed the podium

Photo: Sirotti

BAPTISTE PLANCKAERT

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PIERRICK FEDRIGO

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22.03.2015 @ 18:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Pierrick Fedrigo proved that he still knows how to win races when he took his first victory for the Bretagne team in the big French one-day race Cholet-Pays de Loire which is part of the Coupe de France race series. The Frenchman attacked out of a 40-rider lead group and managed to hold off four chasers by 21 seconds, with Jon Insausti (Murias Taldea) and Baptiste Planckaert (Roubaix) completing the podium.

 

Pierrick Fedrigo was once a prolific winner with no less than four Tour de France stage wins on his palmares but during the last few seasons, he seems to have lost the edge and his status as one of the leading French riders. Going into the 2015 season, he hadn’t won a race since the Paris-Camembert in April 2013.

 

In an attempt to find back to his best, Fedrigo signed a contract with the Bretagne team and apparently that move has paid off. Today the Frenchman finally broke his drought when he came out on top in Cholet-Pays de Loire, the third round of the Coupe de France race series.

 

Like in yesterday’s Classique Loire Atlantique, the windy conditions and rolling terrain made it a hard and selective race and like yesterday it was a big group that emerged after a fast start of the race. When 21 riders got clear, Fedrigo had initially missed out but together with 18 other riders, he bridged the gap to make it a 40-rider lead group.

 

Cofidis, Androni and Caja Rural led the chase but at the halfway point, it became clear that the peloton would not get back in contention. This mean that the attacking could start in the lead group and it was Cedric Pineau (FDJ), Timothy Dupont (Roubaix) and Julien Duval (Armee) who first got clear.

 

The trio managed to build an advantage of a minute before Fedrigo combined forces with his former teammate Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) to bridge the gap on one of the climbs with 40km to go. They gave new life to the break and quickly distanced Duval and Dupont before they started the 29km finishing circuit.

 

With the chasers getting closer, Fedrigo launched an attack with 20km to go and he quickly distanced Pineau and Voeckler who were both brought back. The Bretagne rider now went into time trial mode while a chase group with Jon Insausti, Baptiste Planckaert,  Antoine Demoitie (Wallonie) and Ignatas Konovalovas (Marseille) formed behind him.

 

For a long time, Fedrigo managed to maintain an advantage of 30 seconds but in the finale he started to lose ground. With 2km to go, he was just 18 seconds ahead and it seemed that he could miss out on the win.

 

However, he dug deep one final time and when he reached the finish, he was still the lone leader, taking the first win in Bretagne colours. 21 seconds later, Insausti beat Planckaert in the sprint for second.

 

With the races in the Loire region done and dusted, the French scene moves to Corsica for the new Classic Corsica on Thursday and the Criterium International in the weekend. The next Coupe de France race is the Route Adelie Vitre on April 3.

 

A hilly race

The 38th edition of Cholet-Pays de Loire took place on a 208km course around the city of Cholet. The rolling terrain included 10 categorized climbs that were spread throughout most of the route. The riders ended the race by doing a 29km circuit around Cholet which included the final two climbs of Cote de La Tessoualle and Cote de la Seguiniere. The latter summited just 8.1km from the finish and then it was a decent and flat stretch back to the finish.

 

Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2r) and Edwig Cammaerts (Veranclassic) were the only non-starters when the peloton left Cholet under a cloudy sky. As it is always the case in the Coupe de France races, the pace was fast right from the beginning and it was Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r) who launched the first attack.

 

A big group gets clear

The Frenchman was brought back before the 5km mark and as Auber 93 and Cofidis hit the front in the windy section, the peloton split. 19 riders got clear and they managed to build an advantage of 18 seconds at the 20km mark. Two riders briefly tried to bridge the gap but they were soon brought back.

 

The group was composed of Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Quentin Jauregui (AG2R La Mondiale), Cedric Pineau (FDJ), Jimmy Engoulvent, Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar), Yauheni Hutarovich (Bretagne Séché Environnement), Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural -Seguros RGA), Boris Dron (Wanty Group Gobert), Linus Gerdemann, Christian Mager (Cult Energy), Timothy Dupont, Baptiste Planckaert (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), Julien Duval, Romain Le Roux, Kevin Lebreton (Army), Gorik Gardeyn (Veranclassic -Ekoï) Ion Insausti (Murias Taldea), Yoann Paillot and Evaldas Siskevicius (Team Marseille 13-KTM) and they had extended their advantage to 25 seconds at the 28km mark. Meanwhile, Damien Gaudin (Ag2r), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Ignatas Konovalovas (Marseille) took off in pursuit and they were joined by Giovanni Bernaudeau (Europcar).

 

Pasqualon and Edet bridge the gap

The latter was again dropped from the chase group while Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural) and Andrea Pasqualon (Roth Skoda) were the next to attack from the peloton. Meanwhile, Auber 93 had started to chase and they caught all the chasers except Pasqualon and Edet who made it across to the leaers.

 

A 16-rider chase group was formed and it quickly swelled to 22 riders. At the 40km mark, they were 20 seconds behind while the peloton was at 35 seconds.

 

A 40-rider group is formed

The chase group was trimmed down to 19 riders and at the 46km mark, they made it across, making Oliver Naesen, Thomas Sprengers (Topsport Vlaanderen), Maxime Daniel, Gaudin (Ag2r), Anthony Geslin, Francis Mourey (FDJ), Yukiya Arashiro, Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), Daniel McLay, Pierrick Fedrigo (Bretagne), Madrazo (Caja Rural), Marco Marcato (Wanty), Flavien Dassonville, Theo Vimpère (Auber 93), Rudy Barbier (Roubaix), Kevin Ista, Antoine Demoitié (Wallonie), Justin Jules (Veranclassic) and Konovalovas (Marseille) part of the lead group. The 40 leaders were now 1.05 ahead of the peloton which was led by Cofidis.

 

The French team got some assistance from Androni and Caja Rural and they kept the gap stable at around a minute for a long time. Meanwhile, the attacking started in the front group and it was Jauregui and Dupont who escaped before being joined by Pineau, Voeckler, Duval and Paillot. Another three riders joined the move before the 40-rider group came back together.

 

The peloton loses ground

While Bernaudeau, Tristan Marguet (Roth Skoda) and Yoann Barbas (Armee) left the race, the peloton lost ground and at the 75km mark, they were 2.30 behind. They managed to get a little closer and while Marc Sarreau (FDJ), Miguel Angel Benito (Caja Rural), Melvin Rulliere (Veranclassic) and Ander Barrentxea  (Murias Taldea) abandoned, the gap stayed around 2 minutes.

 

On the fourth climb, Jacobs, Arashiro, Edet, Mager, Le Roux and Paillot escaped and they were joined by Pineau on the descent. With 87km to go, they had an advantage of 1.05 while the peloton was now trailing by four minutes.

 

Pineau gets clear

McLay took off in pursuit but he was brought back by Caja Rural who were doing most of the work in the chase group. They now started to split up and Dassonville was one of six riders to lose contact.

 

Naesen, Dron, Dupont, Planckaert, Lebreton, Demoitie and Insausti briefly got clear before a 26-rider chase group formed. When they were only 15 seconds behind, Pineau attacked from the lead group while his four former companions were caught.

 

Voeckler and Fedrigo make their move

Duval and Dupont managed to join Pineau with 63km to go at a point when the peloton was 5.50 behind. The chase group was now composed of Sprengers, Naesen, Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) Gaudin  (AG2R La Mondiale), Geslin, Mourey (FDJ), Arashiro, Pichot, Engoulvent, Voeckler (Team Europcar), Edet (Cofidis), Fedrigo, Hutarovich (Bretagne-Seche Environment), Madrazo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Marcato, Dron (Wanty Group Gobert), Pasqualon (Roth-Skoda) Gerdemann, Mager (Cult Energy), Barbier, Planckaert (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), Le Roux, Lebreton (Armee), Jules (Veranclassic-Ekoï), Insausti (Murias Taldea) Paillot, Konovalovas, Siskevicius (Team Marseille 13-KTM), Ista, Demoitié (Wallonia-Brussels) and Vimpère (Auber 93).

 

With 50km to go, the front trio had extended their advantage to 1.30 and it was now Europcar doing most of the chase group before they started to attack. On a climb, Voeckler and Fedrigo made a move and while Edet took off in pursuit, they managed to join the leaders.

 

Fedrigo takes off

Edet was brought back by the chasers who were now 30 seconds behind. Meanwhile, Duval and Dupont dropped out of the lead group, just as they hit the finishing circuit.

 

At the first passage of the line, the gap was 35 seconds and it stayed there for a while until Fedrigo made a solo move with 20km to go. He quickly distanced Pineau and Voeckler who were brought back.

 

A fierce pursuit

Fedrigo extended his advantage to a minute while Insausti and Demoitie took off in pursuit. They were joined by Planckaert and Konovalovas but with 11km to go, they were still 30 seconds behind.

 

While Arashiro, Edet, Le Roux and Vimpere got clear to form a next chase group, the four chasers started to approach Fedrigo. With 2km to go, he was only 18 seconds ahead but he managed to stay away to take his second win in the race.

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