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Pasqualon takes surprise win in Boucles de la Mayenne

With a powerful final surge, Pasqualon took a surprise win in the bunch sprint on the first stage of the Boucles de la Mayenne; Le Bon defended his overall lead

ANDREA PASQUALON

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BOUCLES DE LA MAYENNE

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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JOHAN LE BON

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05.06.2015 @ 17:37 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Andrea Pasqualon (Roth-Skoda) proved that he still has what it takes to compete at the professional level when he took a surprise victory in the second stage of the Boucles de la Mayenne. The Italian was the fastest in the bunch sprint as he held off Marcel Meisen (Kuota Lotto) and Jarl Salomein (Topsport Vlaanderen) while Johan Le Bon (FDJ) defended his overall lead.

 

A few years ago Andrea Pasqualon seemed destined to a great future when he won a stage of the Tour de Limousinm finished second in the Coppa Sabatini and took fourth in the Trofeo Matteotti. However, his Bardiani team decided not to renew his contract for the 2014 season.

 

Hence, the fast Italian had to step down to continental level as he joined the Aero Zero team for the 2014 season. Here he finished third in the Trofeo Laigueglia and the GP Costa degi Etruschi and fifth in the GP Beghelli but he was not offered a professional contract.

 

Instead, he joined the small Roth Skoda team and with his good climbing skills and fast sprint, he has already achieved several notable results in smaller races. Today he made the big coup when he beat the pro teams in the second stage of the Boucles de la Mayenne.

 

The win came under unexpected circumstances as Pasqualon turned out to be the fastest in a bunch sprint. Despite being a fast finisher, the Italian usually needs a harder race to really excel.

 

In this stage, all was set for a big bunch sprint and all eyes were on the likes of Yauheni Hutarovich (Bretagne), Jonas Ahlstrand (Cofidis) and Thomas Boudat (Europcar) from the big pro teams. However, they were all outpaced by Pasqualon who turned out to be the fastest after Europcar and Cofidis had dominated the finale.

 

In fact, it was a great day for the continental riders as second place was taken by Marcel Meisen who is mostly known as a cyclo-cross rider. Jarl Salomein finished third as the best professional rider.

 

Race leader Johan Le Bon had a safe day in the saddle and even tried a small attack on the finishing circuit. Hence, he defended his overall lead and still leads Victor Campenaerts (Topsport Vlaanderen) by 3 seconds.

 

Le Bon will try to defend his position in tomorrow’s second stage which should be another one for the sprinters. There are four smaller climbs in the first half but only one categorized climb in second half before the riders get to the finishing circuit that they will tackle five times.

 

One for the sprinters

After the prologue, the sprinters were expected to shine in stage 1 which brought the riders over 184km from Renault St Berthevin to Pole Seche Environnement. After an early climb, the terrain was mostly flat before it again got a bit hillier in the finale. Here they tackled three climbs but as the stage finished with four laps of an 11.3km finishing circuit, a sprint finish was the expected outcome.

 

It was another very hot day in France when the riders gathered for the start. As a consequence, the commissaires had allowed riders to get supplied by their team cars earlier than usual.

 

The break is formed

As expected, the stage got off to a very fast start with lots of attacks. The first riders to get an advantage were Julien Antomarchi (Roubaix), Vincent Jerome (Europcar), Evaldas Siskevicius (Marseille), Igor Boev (Rusvelo), Aaron Gate (An Post) and Eneko Lizarralde (Murias Taldea)but with two riders in the overall top 10 in that group, they were brought back at the 11km mark after they had had an advantage of 10 seconds.

 

Ignatas Konovalovas (Marseille), Fabien Canal (Armee), Clement Koretzky (Vorarlberg) and Thomas Vaubourzeix (Veranclassic) were the next to attack and they were allowed to get a bigger advantage. While FDJ set a steady pace in the peloton, the gap went out to 1.30 by the time Koretzky beat Canal and Vaubourzeix in the first KOM sprint.

 

Bretagne come to the fore

At the 27km mark, the gap was already 3.05 but FDJ didn’t allow the escapees more than 3.20 before they made their first acceleration. At the 50km mark, the gap was only 2.25 but then the French team again stepped off the gas.

 

When Canal beat Konovalovas and Koretzky in the first sprint at the 53km mark, the gap had gone out to 3.30 and the escapees were even allowed to get an advantage of 4 minutes at the 70km mark. That was a suitable margin for the FDJ team which kept it stable for a while before Bretagne came to the fore to assist them, with Pierre-Luc Perichon taking some turns.

 

The chase gets organized

This caused the cap to go down and at the 105km mark, it was down to 3.15. At this point, Koretzky won the second KOM sprint as they had now entered the hilly zone.

 

At the bottom of the third climb, the gap was still 3.10 and here Koretzky was again the fastest. In the peloton, Olivier Le Gac (FDJ), Perichon and Gert Joeaar (Cofidis) were sharing the pace-setting.

 

Canal attacks

Canal made a solo attack as the peloton had now strongly accelerated and was only 1.40 behind. However, the escapees quickly found back together while riders were getting dropped from the peloton.

 

Canal beat Konovalovas and Koretzky in the second sprint at a point when they still had an advantage of 1.30. The peloton slowed down a little to keep it around that mark for a while as they started the first of their four laps of the 11.3km finishing circuit.

 

Vauborzeix takes off

Team Europcar had now taken control of the peloton but that didn’t make much of a difference. At the start of the second lap, the gap was still 1.45.

 

However, the chase was now getting organized as Topsport Vlaanderen were now also working and with 24km to go, the escapees were just 1 minute ahead. This prompted Vaubourzeix to attack and he managed to get clear.

 

Vaubourzeix starts to fade

Canal, Konovalovas and Koretzky sat up, leaving Vaubourzeix to pres on alone. Impressively he managed to increase his advantage from 40 seconds to 1.10 by the time he entered the final 20km.

 

The lone escapee started to fade and when he started the final lap, his advantage had been reduced to 20 seconds. This prompted Quentin Pacher (Armee) to try to bridge the gap but with 9km to go, the two attackers were both brought back.

 

A Bretagne rider attacked and was even chased by race leader Le Bon but as Cofidis and Europcar were gearing up for the sprint, they were brought back. However, it was all in vain as Pasqualon turned out to be the fastest.

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