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Second professional victory for time trial specialist just two weeks after his win in the Paris-Nice prologue

Photo: ASO/P.Perreve

DAMIEN GAUDIN

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DIRECT ENERGIE

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MARCEL WYSS

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MATTHIAS BRÄNDLE

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REIN TAARAMAE

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17.03.2013 @ 19:12 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Damien Gaudin (Team Europcar) surprised most people exactly two weeks ago when he won the prologue in the Paris-Nice. Today he proved that it was no fluke by winning an impressive solo victory in the GP Cholet - Pays de Loire from a 4-man breakaway group.

 

Damien Gaudin spent more than 5 years as a professional without getting that elusive first win. With his victory in today's GP Cholet - Pays de Loire, he is on a roll and is poised to enter his beloved cobbled classics in his best condition.

 

Gaudin were among 4 riders to join early solo escapee Marcel Wyss (IAM) to create a dangerous and incredibly strong 5-rider breakaway. Together with Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Matthias Brändle (IAM) and Russell Hampton (Raleigh) they managed to keep extending their advantage to a hard-chasing peloton for  a long time.

 

Hampton was dropped along the way and even though the gap started to come down in the final part of the race, the four escapees kept their chasers at bay. Inside the final kilometres, Gaudin put in a solo attack and did another string time trial to win ahead of Wyss, Taaramae and Brandle.

 

With Gaudin's victory, Team Europcar got its revenge after a lacklustre performance in yesterday's Classique Loire Atlantique where only one of the team's riders managed to finish the race.

 

Wyss in a solo attempt

The 206 km race consisted of one large 177 km lap around the city of Cholet followed by a smaller 29 km circuit. Along the way the riders had to tackle 10 categorized climbs, but the otherwise flat profile means that the race has often by won by sprinters.

 

On another wet and windy day in France, attacks went thick and fast from the gun. After a hectic start, Marcel Wyss managed to escape solo, and he was later joined by Russell Hampton. The duo managed to fight off the peloton for several kilometres, and they got an importance boost when Rein Taaramae, Matthias Brandle and Damien Gaudin managed to close the gap to join up with the leaders and form the day's major break.

 

A strong chase group

Behind the leading riders, 14 riders managed to escape the clutches of the peloton. Anthony Geslin (FDJ), Axel Domont (Ag2r), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Evaldas Siskevicius (Sojasun), Fabien Schmidt (Sojasun), Jerome Coppel (Cofidis), Guillaume Levarlet (Cofidis), Eliot Lietaer (Topsport Vlaanderen), Ruben Fernandez (Caja Rural), Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Seche), Gregory Tarride (La Pomme Marseille), Mathieu Drujon (BigMat-Auber 93), Loic Desriac (Roubaix) and Eric Berthou (Raleigh) formed a big chase group with representation from most of the big teams.

 

Impressively the five riders in front managed to increase their gap to both the chasers and the hard chasing peloton. As it approached the 7 minute mark, the chase group was brought back by the peloton where the chasing teams were about to run out of firepower.

 

The peloton gets organized

With the chase group caught, more teams had incentive to join the chase work, and as a consequence the peloton picked up its speed. Led by Caja Rural (working for Francesco Lasca), Androni Giocattoli (working for Omar Bertazzo), BigMat-Auber 93 (working for Fabien Bacquet and Mathieu Drujon) and La Pomme Marseille (working for Justin Jules), the gap started to come down. In the front, Hampton struggled and had to let his companions go, and he was picked up by the peloton just moments later.

 

With 60 km to go, the peloton still trailed by 5.50, and it looked to be a pretty tight affair. As the peloton entered the final 29 km circuit, they were still 4.40 behind, and the breakaway riders had any reason to fancy their own chances.

 

As it became clear that the group would stay away, the attacks started. Brandle was momentarily dropped, but as his former companions started to play cat and mouse, he managed to return. Just moments later Gaudin, however, put in his decisive acceleration, and he soloed towards the finish line. He managed to hold off his chasers to secure his seconds professional win.

 

Wyss beat Taaramae and Brandle in the sprint for second.

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