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Fonseca wins a sprint from a 7-rider group after his teammate Delaplace has sacrificed himself for his sprinter; Teunissen finishes third and takes the overall lead

BOUCLES DE LA MAYENNE

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MIKE TEUNISSEN

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RABOBANK DEVELOPMENT TEAM

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06.06.2014 @ 17:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne) finally took what seemed to be a long overdue first professional victory when he won today’s first stage of the Boucles de la Mayenne in a 7-rider sprint. Having bridged across to the early breakaway that contained his teammate Anthony Delaplace, he benefited from the latter’s hard work before beating Matteo Belli (Nankang) and Mike Teunissen (Rabobank) in the final dash to the line, with the latter taking over the overall lead from Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar).

 

In his first three professional seasons, Armindo Fonseca has very often been close to his first professional victory but apparently the fast sprinter and strong climber seems to have always lacked that little extra that makes the difference between a place of honour and a win. Today he finally took that elusive triumph when he won the first stage of the Boucles de la Mayenne.

 

Being no pure sprinter, Fonseca knew that he was unlikely to win a bunch sprint and so decided to go on the attack. First he was part of an unsuccessful attempt to bridge across to the remnants of the early breakaway but when that had failed, he refused to give up.

 

When a 6-rider group took off, he was again part of the action and this time they bridged the gap to the front trio. One of the riders in the early breakaway was his teammate Anthony Delaplace and he proved to be very valuable in the finale.

 

A 20-rider group took off in pursuit while the peloton with overall leader Jimmy Engoulvent fell far behind, and the chasers were about to make the junction with 5km to go. At that point, however, Delaplace sacrificed himself for his teammate and his hard work ensured that the break stayed away to the finish.

 

In the sprint from the 7-rider front group, Fonseca proved to be the fastest as he beat Matto Belli and Mike Teunissen. A few seconds later, Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen) won the sprint of the chasers while the peloton lost more than 5 minutes.

 

Having finished 3rd in the prologue, young Teunissen enjoyed the greatest moment of his road career when he took over the overall lead from Engoulvent. The Dutchman now faces a tough ask in tomorrow’s second stage which is the hardest of the race. It ends with four laps of a finishing circuit that includes the Montaigu climb and the finish line is located at the top, making it a stage for puncheurs.

 

One for the sprinters

After the opening prologue, the Boucles de la Mayenne continued with a 197km stage from Renault St Berthevin to Bonchamp. The stage was mostly flat and was expected to suit the sprinters, offering Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar) a good chance to defend his lead.

 

All riders that finished the prologue took the start under beautiful sunny conditions and a 28-degree temperature. As expected the start was a fast one and the first riders to get a significant gap were Ivar Slik (Rabobank Development), Rick Ottema (Veranclassic-Doltcini) and Lubomir Petrus (BKCP-Powerplus) who built up a 12-second advantage.

 

The break takes off

They were soon brought back though and as the fast pace continued, the peloton briefly split in two but soon came back together. Soon after Thomas Vaubourzeix (La Pomme) launched one of his trademark attacks and he was joined by Sébastien Turgot (AG2R La Mondiale), Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) and Serge Dewortelaer (Veranclassic-Doltcini) to form a very strong quartet.

 

At the 14km mark, they were 30 seconds ahead and after a short battle, the peloton surrendered, allowing the gap to grow. At the 27km mark, the gap was 2.30 but Europcar had now taken control and for a long time, they kept the gap stable between the 2- and 3-minute marks.

 

The attacking starts

As Turgot beat Delaplace and Vaubourzeix in the first intermediate sprint, Europcar allowed the escape a bit more leeway and the gap reached 3.35. As the peloton slowed down in the feed zone, the advantage increased even more, reaching 4.30 after 98km of racing.

 

That was as much as they would get and Europcar started to slowly reel them in. As the gap had come down to 3 minutes, the counterattacks started and the peloton started to split as it ramped up the speed.

 

Engoulvent punctures

While the counterattackers were caught, the gap had now come down to just 1.25. At this point, Engoulvent suffered a very untimely puncture and he had to fight hard to rejoin the peloton which was in full speed.

 

When the gap was down to less than 30 seconds, Petrus, Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne), Louis Verhelst (Cofidis), Roy Jans (Wanty) and Flavien Dassonville (BigMat) set off in pursuit and they quickly picked up Turgot who had fallen off the pace. Meanwhile, the peloton split in two but as they brought back the chasers and slowed down a bit, the two main groups got back together.

 

The decisive move

The front trio were allowed to reopen their advantage to 40 seconds before Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Mike Teunissen (Rabobank Development), Flavien Dassonville (BigMat-Auber 93), Matteo Belli (Nankang-Fondriest), Kevin Seeldraeyers (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Reinier Honig (Vorarlberg) set off in pursuit. They soon caught the leaders and managed to build a 50-second advantage.

 

Behind, a big 20-rider group split off the front of the peloton and as most teams were represented, the bunch started to lose ground. Baptiste Planckaert (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), Loïc Pestiaux (Wallonie-Bruxelles) and Merijn Korevaar (Rabobank Development) did a good job to join the chasers while the peloton was now more than 3 minutes behind.

 

A big chase group

Giovanni Bernaudeau (Europcar), Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ.Fr), Damien Gaudin and Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R La Mondiale), Arnaud Gérard and Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Florian Sénéchal and Stéphane Poulhiès (Cofidis), Pieter Jacobs and Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Higinio Fernandez (Ecuador), Stéphane Rossetto (BigMat-Auber 93), Nico Sijmens and Jérôme Gilbert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Romain Pillon and Baptiste Planckaert (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), Loïc Pestiaux (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Etienne Van Empel and Merijn Korevaar (Rabobank Development), Enrico Franzoi (Marchiol Emisfero), Philipp Walsleben and Mathieu Van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) and Wouter Mol (Veranclassic-Doltcini) made up the chasers that were 40 seconds behind as they crossed the line for the first time with 23km to go. After one lap of the finishing circuit, however, they were still 33 seconds behind and it seemed that they wouldn’t catch the leaders in time.

 

While Europcar led the peloton more than 3 minutes in arrears, Vaubourzeix and De Wortelaer were dropped from the front group. The chasers were now getting closer to the front group and 5km from the line, they were just 14 seconds behind.

 

Delaplace sacrificed himself completely for teammate Fonseca and as they passed the flame rouge, he had reopened the gap to 25 seconds. Dassonville tried to make a late attack but Bretagne kept it together for a sprint where Fonseca beat Belli and Teunissen.

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