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"Since I started in the pro ranks (2014), I have been unable to pull it off in my specialty. Since my return from the Vuelta, I felt I had more strength but I did not expect to win today in my first race."

Photo: Sirotti

AG2R CITROEN TEAM

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ALEXIS GOUGEARD

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TOUR DE L'EUROMÉTROPOLE

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30.09.2015 @ 20:41 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

A few weeks after his stage win at the Vuelta a Espana, Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) continued his breakthrough season by powering to victory in the difficult Tour de l’Eurometropole prologue. The Frenchman beat long-time leader Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) by 3 seconds while Matthias Brändle (IAM) was 9 seconds further adrift in third.

 

A few weeks ago, Alexis Gougeard finally became a household name for a wider audience when he took a very classy solo victory in the Vuelta a Espana stage to Avila. Long regarded as one of the biggest French talents, his aggressive riding style finally paid off and it became clear that he is destined for a big future.

 

Since then he has recovered from his first grand tour and so he didn’t know what to expect from this week’s Tour de l’Eurometropole. However, like so many other riders, it seems that he has benefited massively from getting through a 3-week race as he took a very impressive win in today’s Tour de l’Eurometropole prologue.

 

The 7.8km stage required more than just time trialling power as a flat start led to the tough 800m climb of Mont Saint-Aubert. Hence, it was perfectly suited to puncheurs who could also keep a high pace on the flat.

 

"This is my first win in a time trial, I'm really happy," Gougeard said. "Since I started in the pro ranks (2014), I have been unable to pull it off in my specialty. Since my return from the Vuelta, I felt I had more strength but I did not expect to win today in my first race.

 

"The course suited me but I did not have great feelings during the warm-up. Then I was riding on the circuit and I thought that the day would be long. I knew it was only a seven-kilometer prologue so I did not give up. I do not know whether my feelings will change during the next days. But I think we have a great team and we will defend that jersey until the end. "

 

"This climb was really me," he added in an interview with Directvelo. "It is not unknown to me. We came here in training with the team to prepare for the Tour of Flanders. Le Mont-Saint-Aubert is difficult, but not too hard. I have clearly turned a corner in the time trials since the Vuelta during which I won a stage. I significantly gained in strength.  Late in the season, it is often about the head. I am still motivated. This victory gives me even more. 

 

"Teams like Lotto-Soudal will certainly want to achieve something. We have a good team with experienced riders able to defend this jersey. "

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