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Having used Bardet to reel in a dangerous 5-rider group, Dumoulin made a big attack on the final climb and managed to hold off the peloton to win the second edition of the Drome Classic

Photo: Sirotti

AG2R CITROEN TEAM

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FABIO FELLINE

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SAMUEL DUMOULIN

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01.03.2015 @ 17:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Samuel Dumulin continued Ag2r’s dominance of the new race Drome Classic when he succeeded his teammate Romain Bardet as the winner of the race in its second edition. Having made it into a select chase group in the finale, he used Bardet to shut the dangerous late break down before he powered clear on the final climb to take a solo win ahead of Fabio Felline (Trek) and Sebastien Delfosse (Wallonie).

 

One year ago Romain Bardet became the first winner of the new hilly French one-day race La Drome Classic when he took a beautiful solo win in the hilly terrain of the Ardeche region. Apparently, Ag2r like the new event as the team managed to defend their title by putting in another great showing in today’s second edition.

 

After FDJ and Trek had used the hilly parcours to make it an elimination race, a motivated Bardet made a big attack on the third last climb inside the final 20km. He had taken off in pursuit of Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) and only Bauke Mollema (Trek) and Peter Stetina (BMC) could match his pace.

 

Those three riders passed the lone Zoidl on the descent but at the bottom, a regrouping took place. A 30-rider group gathered in the front and sped towards the final two climbs inside the final 10km.

 

Cyril Gautier (Europcar) showed impressive strength when he attacked hard on the penultimate climb and after Stetina had initially been the only to match his pace, the Frenchman crested the summit as the lone leader. On the descent, however, he was joined by Stetina, Mollema, Fabio Felline (Trek) and Yann Guyot (Armee) to form a very strong front group.

 

Behind Dumoulin seemed on the back foot as he found himself in a group with his teammate Bardet, Sebastien Delfosse, Yoann Bagot, Rudy Molard (Cofidis), Ivan Santaromita (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Jonathan Hivert (Bretagne). As the front group worked well together, they lost time and when they hit the final climb with 3km to go, they were 10 seconds behind.

 

However, Bardet put himself in the service of his teammate and he sacrificed himself completely for Dumoulin. While Felline made a bid for glory from the front group, the Tour de France hero reduced the gap to 7 seconds before he swung off and left it to Dumoulin to finish it off.

 

Dumoulin made a powerful move and flew past the breakaway riders to crest the summit as the first rider. With only a fast descent left, he had no trouble holding off his chasers and he took a beautiful solo win while Felline beat Delfosse in the sprint for second.

 

With this pair of French one-day races done and dusted, the French calendar turns its attention to stage racing when Paris-Nice kicks off the European WorldTour season next Sunday.

 

A new course

The 2nd edition of the Drome Classic was held on a new course that saw the riders tackle 200.5km in the area around the city of Livron. The first part was made up of two laps of a 49.75km circuit that included four climbs. Having almost completed a third lap of the circuit, the riders tackled another even hillier circuit with 4 climbs before they returned to the final part of the original circuit where they would climb the Cote d’Allex and Cote de Livron inside the final 10km. The final climb was a short one but it summited just 1.9km from the finish and from there it was downhill almost all the way to the finish.

 

The riders took the start under a mixed sky and with a 7-degree temperature. However, Manuel Senni (BMC), Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep), Lucas Euser (Unitedhealthcare) and Theo Vimpere (Auber 93) weren’t present when the riders headed out onto the hilly opening circuit.

 

An early break

From the drop of the flag, Axel Domont (Ag2r), Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Daniel Summerhill (Unitedhealthcare) and Gregoire Tarried (Marseille) attacked and surprisingly they were allowed to go clear without having to fight for any kind of permission. After 5km of racing, they already had an advantage of 2.20 and as they crested the summit of the first climb, they were 3.30 ahead.

 

A single rider from the FDJ team started to chase but he was not riding full gas yet. After 21km of racing, the escapees had extended their advantage to 6.00 but this was as much as the French team would allow them to get. They now assembled their entire team on the front and started to control the situation.

 

FDJ control the race

Rain started to fall while FDJ kept the gap stable between 5.30 and 6.00. At the end of the first lap, it was 5.40.

 

On the descent of the Cote de Livron, Trek suddenly accelerated heavily and this created several splits in the peloton which was suddenly divided into five groups. After some regrouping, two bigger groups were formed and they also merged when Trek again slowed down.

 

Riders get dropped

While Rohan Dennis (BMC) left the race, the peloton continued to ride a lot faster and at the 64km mark, the gap was down to 4.30. The rainy conditions caused more riders to leave the race, with Damiano Caruso (BMC), Sergio Pardilla (Caja Rural), Jonas Rickaert and Otto Vergaerde (Topsport Vlaanderen) being among the riders to leave the race.

 

The fast pace constantly sent riders out the back door, and Victor Campenaerts (Topsport Vlaanderen), Jan Ghyselinck, Francis De Greef (Wanty), Maxime Anciaux (Wallonie), Alessio Taliani and Andrea Zordan (Androni) were among the riders to lose contact. It was now FDJ and Trek riding on the front and they kept the gap stable between 4.00 and 4.30 for a while.

 

Peraud and Sepulveda abandon

Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Tom Devriendt (Wanty) were the next to get dropped as the riders approached the end of the second lap of the opening circuit. Meanwhile, Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) and yesterday’s winner Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne) both left the race.

 

While the rain stopped, the peloton accelerated and at the end of the second lap, the gap was down to just 3.30. At the top of the first climb of the circuit, it was down to just 3.00 as Trek and FDJ continued to apply the pressure.

 

The gap comes down

After working hard, Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) was dropped from the peloton which also got rid of Frantisek Padour (Androni), Jerome Mainard (Armee) and Jean-Marc Bideau (Bretagne). Inside the final 70km, FDJ accelerated in the bunch and with 60km to go, they had brought the gap down to 2.10.

 

Anthony Roux (FDJ) paid the price for his work and lost contact with the field just as they hit the Cote d’Allex for the second time. As the gap was down to 1.35, the front group accelerated and so Tarride was dropped.

 

Bardet suffers a puncture

Pierre-Roger Latour (Ag2r), Kevin Ledanois (Bretagne) and Arthur Vichot (FDJ) were among the many riders to lose contact while Romain Bardet (Ag2r) had to fight his way back from a puncture. FDJ’s fast pace saw the group split in three different groups but with 50km to go, they came back together.

 

The three escapees were still one minute ahead but moments later, Summerhill had to let Domont and Lindeman go. However, they had a hard time staying away and with 46km to go, they were only 30 seconds ahead.

 

A new front group is formed

This opened the door for new attacks and it was Quentin Pacher (Armee) who managed to bridge acros. Meanwhile, the mass exodus continues as Romain Le Roux (Army), Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step), Kevin Reza (FDJ), Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) and Julien Simon (Cofidis) all left the race.

 

While Domont was dropped from the front group, Ben Gastauer (Ag2r) and Loic Chetout (Cofidis) attacked from the peloton and they managed to join the leaders. Moments later, Lindeman also had to surrender while David de la Cruz (Etixx-QuickStep) took off in pursuit.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE start to chase

The Spaniard was 20 seconds behind and the peloton was at 30 seconds when Orica-GreenEDGE decided to take control. Their fast pace distanced Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and brought de la Cruz back.

 

While Timo Roosen (Team Lotto NL-Jumbo), Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek Factory), Pierre Gouault (Auber 93), Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale) and Fabrice Jeandesboz (Europcar) all got dropped from the peloton, the gap stayed around 30 seconds. They now hit the Col de la Grande Limite where Chetout fell off the pace in the front group.

 

Pacher drops off

Gastauer and Pacher were now the leaders and they managed to extend their advantage over the Orica-led peloton to 35 seconds. As they hit another climb, however, Pacher was unable to keep up and so Gastauer pressed on alone.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE were now losing power as Johan Esteban Chaves and Christian Meier both got dropped.and so Gastauer managed to extend his advantage to 40 seconds. Impressively, Pacher managed to rejoin him while Chetout, Floris De Tier (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) got dropped from the peloton.

 

Zoidl makes his move

The peloton started to split while Gastauer and Pachon entered the final 25km with an advantage of 30 seconds. As the peloton accelerated, they lost ground, however, and with 20km to go, they were caught.

 

Just before the junction was made, Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) made a solo attack and he reached the summit of the third last climb as the lone leader. Behind Romain Bardet (Ag2r) put in a big attack that only Bauke Mollema (Trek) and Peter Stetina (BMC) could follow.

 

A 30-rider group is formed

Bardet passed Zoidl on the descent while Michael Albasini (Orica) and Gianfranco Zilioli (Androni) were among the many riders to get dropped from the peloton. Mollema and Stetina managed to rejoin and later Sebastien Delfosse (Wallonie) and Carlos Verona (Etixx) also got across.

 

The group was caught at the bottom of the descent and it was a 30-rider group that sped towards the penultimate climb. Here Cyril Gautier (Europcar) and Stetina put in a big attack while Mollema, Fabio Felline (Trek) and Yann Guyot (Armee) followed a little further back.

 

Strong move by Gautier

Gautier dropped Stetina but on the descent, the American, Mollema, Felline and Guyot joined him. Behind, Bardet, Delfosse and Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) were their nearest chasers but they were caught by a group that also contained Rudy Molard, Yoann Bagot (Cofidis), Dumoulin, Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Jonathan Hivert (Bretagne).

 

The gap reached 10 seconds with 3km to fo when they hit the final climb. As the peloton was at 45 seconds, it was clear that the winner would come from one of the two front groups.

 

Bardet sacrificed himself for Dumoulin and brought it down to 7 seconds when Felline attacked from the front group. Stetina tried to join him but they were all passed by Dumoulin who did a big attack. Delfosse worked hard to bring him back but as he passed the flamme rouge, the Ag2r rider was 5 seconds ahead. He held off his chasers to take his first win of the 2015 season.

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