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With a time of 5.48, Le Bon covered the 4.5km prologue in Boucles de la Mayenne 3 seconds faster than Campenaerts to take both the stage win and the overall lead

Photo: Sirotti

BOUCLES DE LA MAYENNE

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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JOHAN LE BON

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05.06.2015 @ 00:19 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Johan Le Bon (FDJ) put a disappointing spring season behind him when he returned to his best with a victory in the evening prologue at the Boucles de la Mayenne. The TT specialist covered the 4.5km distance in 5.48 to go 3 seconds faster than Victor Campenaerts (Topsport Vlaanderen) and take both the stage victory and the leader’s jersey in the four-day race.

 

Having shown glimpses of his great talent for the classics and time trials, Johan Le Bon had great hopes for the spring season. However, the talented Frenchman was set back by illness and after he had abandoned the Driedaagse van de Panne, he put a premature end to the first part of his season.

 

Le Bon abandoned the Grand Prix de la Somme in early May but since then he has had time to focus on his recovery and training. He made his return to competition last weekend when he finished 18th in the Grand Prix de Plumelec but it was his performance one day later in the Boucles de l’Aulne that marked him out as one to watch.

 

Le Bon rode an aggressive race and made a late attack that almost gave him the win. In the end, he was caught just 300m from the line and had to settle for 11th but the performance marked him out as the big favourite for today’s 4.5km prologue in the Boucles de la Mayenne.

 

Le Bon fully proved that he is back at his best level as he was the only rider to go break the 5.50 barrier on the technical course in Laval. Being the third last rider down the ramp, he went faster than anyone else and so took both the stage win and the leader’s jersey.

 

Le Bon’s performance put a disappointing end to Victor Campenaerts’ long wait in the hot seat. The Belgian had been an early starter and his time of 5.51 turned out to be very difficult to beat. In fact no one was able to get within 3 seconds of his mark before Le Bon powered across the line late in the evening.

 

Le Bon only had to wait for the final two riders to finish their ride and as neither Vincent Jerome nor Julien Guay was close to his time, it was enough to take the win. Matthieu Boulo (Bretagne) was fractions of a second faster than Julien Antomarchi (Roubaix) to complete the podium.

 

With the win, Le Bon now leads Campenaerts by 3 seconds. He takes that lead into tomorrow’s first road stage which is a mostly flat affair. . There’s a single climb in the early part and three climbs in the second half but as the race finishes with four laps of a flat finishing circuit, a bunch sprint is the expected outcome.

 

A technical prologue

The 2015 edition of Boucles de la Mayenne kicked off with the same short 4.5km prologue in Laval that also opened last year’s race. The flat course included several turns, making it a pretty technical affair that was suited to sprinters and prologue specialists.

 

It was a beautiful sunny and very hot evening in Laval when Mathew Zenovich (CCT) rolled down the ramp as the first rider to start the Boucles de la Mayenne prologue. He stopped the clock in a time of 6.36 to set an early mark but he was quickly beaten into second by Adam Toupalik (BKCP) who went 26 seconds faster.

 

Clement Venturini (Cofidis) was the first professional rider to start the race and his time of 6.01 was enough to take thelead. However, he was narrowly beaten by Aritz Bagues (Murias Taldea) who was just fractions of a second faster.

 

Best time for Campenaerts

Quientin Pacher (Armee) was just 3 seconds short of a stinit in the hot seat and Evaldas Siskevicius (Marseille) was even closer as he missed the mark by just a second. Instead, it was Victor Campenaerts (Topsport) who was the first to go beyond the 6-minute mark when he stopped the clock in 5.51.

 

Pierre-Luc Perichon (Bretagne) slotted into fifth before Anthony Turgis (Cofidis) set a time of 6.00 to move into second. However, the first rider to really challenge Campenaerts was Matthieu Boulo (Roubaix) wjho stopped the clock in 5.54.

 

Good performance by Lecuisiner

Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (FDJ) was just slightly slower with a time of 5.56 and Andrea Vaccher (Roth) had a surprisingly good ride to slot into fourth with 5.59. Defending champion Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) could only manage 6.05 and Stan Godrie (Rabobank) made it into the top 10 with 6.04.

 

Baptiste Planckaert (Roubaix) put himself in a good position to contest the overall when he stopped the clock in 6.00 and moved into sixth. Thomas Sprengers (Topsport) made it two riders from his team in the top 4 when he posted a time of 5.57.

 

Ovechkin moves into third

Rudy Kowalski (Roubaix) was the next rider to make it into the top 10 with the 8th best time but he was immediately relegated by Jan Ghyselinck (Wanty) who slotted into fourth with 5.56. Benoit Jarrier (Bretagne) was one second better and moved into third before Europcar sprinter Thomas Boudat slotted into ninth.

 

The good times were now coming thick and fast as Tim DeTroyer (Wanty) barely had made it into seventh before Artem Ovechkin (Rusvelo) posted the third best time with 5.55. Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne) was also in the mix as he posted the eighth best time of 5.57.

 

Egoitz Garcia (Murias Taldea) was slightly faster with 5.56 but it was Julien Antomarchi (Roubaix) who got the attention when he set the third best time. However, all eyes were on Le Bon and the Frenchman lived up to his status as favourite by going three seconds faster than Campenaerts. Vincent Jerome (Europcar) could only manage 9th and as Julien Guay (Auber 93) was far off the pace, Le Bon could step onto the podium as stage winner and first leader of the race.

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