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“Normally I'm a teammate and have to work for a leader but here I had the whole team at my service. There is nothing better for the confidence. We were very solid all day and I was never worried."

Photo: Henriette Brandt

AG2R LA MONDIALE

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ALEXANDRE GENIEZ

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ALEXIS VUILLERMOZ

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ANDRIY GRIVKO

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ARNOLD JEANNESSON

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BARDIANI CSF

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CYRIL GAUTIER

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JAN BAKELANTS

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LA MÉDITERRANÉENNE

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MATTHIEU LADAGNOUS

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YOANN BAGOT

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14.02.2016 @ 21:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jan Bakelants (Ag2r) ended a very strong first race of 2016 by claiming an impressive victory on the final stage of La Méditerranéenne. The Belgian made a powerful attack at the bottom of the final 1.3km climb and managed to pass Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) just metres of the line, with Arnold Jeannesson (Cofidis) also making it past to take second. Andriy Grivko (Astana) finished just 8 seconds later and took the overall victory ahead of Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ) and Bakelants.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Andriy Grivko after overall victory: I was never worried

“I’m very happy with  this victory and I want to dedicate it to my family and my teammates,” said an enthusiastic Andrei Grivko after the finish of the fourth stage of La Méditerranéenne in Bordighera (Italy). “Today everything went as expected for us and my team did an amazing job to control the race from the start until the final km and leading the bunch along the entire race route.

 

“I stayed at the front of the bunch for the entire day and even in the final sprint, I controlled the situation, finishing tenth. This double victory (yesterday’s stage and the final classification) is a very great motivation to start the season in the best way. Tonight I’ll fly to Tour of Oman and I’m so happy about my condition.”

 

"I'm really happy to win overall,” Grivko told Directvelo. “Normally I'm a teammate and have to work for a leader but here I had the whole team at my service. There is nothing better for the confidence. We were very solid all day and I was never worried. I have to leave quickly to catch my plane because I am leaving for Oman. A win early in the season is ideal for the confidence. 

 

"This is my first race of the season and it starts in the most beautiful way. The whole team was really put in my service so I could keep the leader's jersey. We were very solid all day and I've never been worried even if the course could create surprises. Winning is always good for the confidence.”

 

Jan Bakelants: I have never felt so strong before

"Italy is good for me,” Bakelants told Directvelo.” This is an important victory for the team because we had not won this season. It was a very hard day with a rather unusual route. I have not done that often in my career. At first I was a bit skeptical but the climb changed the situation. It was a good move. 

 

”I suffered early in the stage, I had a little hard legs. The team started in the finale but I did not feel strong enough to get the overall win. At the bottom of the last climb, they positioned me ideally. I put myself behind Arnold Jeannesson in the final kilometere. He obviously dynamite in the legs. As the last hundred meters were not very steep, I chose to slightly anticipate my attack. In the final straight I saw that I was the strongest. So I put it in the 53x16 and I won. 

 

"I had no great feelings early in the stage and Cyril Gautier was in the break. We believed in his chances but he was with a great Geniez.  5km from the finish we changed our plans and the team began to chase, like Astana that wanted to save Grivko’s jersey. I had to finish the work of my teammates. 
 

On the penultimate climb, Mika [Cherel] attacked to see if Astana was able to respond. As they were still strong, I focused my energy on the stage win. I attacked on the last climb and it went well."

"It means that I have had a good winter and done a good job. It is important to get reassured even if two third places this week indicated that I was in shape. This removes stress and proves that I worked to be mentally ready to win. I feel stronger than other years at this time. I also feel that the team has full confidence in me and it works so much to put me in the best possible position.

 

"It's great to celebrate my thirty-year birthday in this way. This morning Yvon Breton, the Managing Director of AG2R La Mondiale, sent me a message to wish me a happy birthday and I said I would win to open the account of the team. I held ny promise. I am happy.

 

“We came to win at least one stage and the pressure was present for four days. It is really a relief and I can thank my teammates for the job done.

 

 “At the end of last season I felt that I had taken another step. Here, it was the first time I had to assume the status of a designated leader. It was not necessarily easy to manage because I put pressure on myself to be able to give back to my teammates who did a lot of work for me. Now I will go to the Tour Provence and then I'll go to the Drôme-Ardèche classics.

 

”My next goal is Tirreno-Adriatico from March 9-15. I looked at the course. Maybe it does not suit me completely to win stages but we'll see. I have more confidence in my climbing skills. We have a great team and I want to show that I am worthy of the confidence of my teammates.”

 

The AG2R La Mondiale team took its first success in 2016 after 7 weeks. Last year, it was not until the eighth week and the double success of Ben Gastauer at the Tour du Haut Var (February 21 and 22) that they opened their account. Furthermore, there was a fourth place overall and sixth place in today's stage for Mickaël Chérel.

 

Cyril Gautier wins first jersey in Ag2r colours

After two days in the break, Cyril Gautier won the mountains jersey in his second race for Ag2r.

 

"I got the mountains jersey without really trying,” he said. “It's the collective and the state of mind of the team that I will remember. We took the race in hand and was at the front every day. Today I was on the attack and I am satisfied to have fulfilled my role for Jan.”

 

Disappointed Alexis Vuillermoz abandons due to knee pain

Alexis Vuillermoz abandoned due to a sore left knee, he felt the day before. 

 

"It's a shame because I had good legs," he said. “It’s a big disappointment that I had to give up in a stage that really suited me. Knee pain appeared yesterday and forced me to retire. I struggle to accept it, especially as the legs felt good early in the race.”

 

At the Trofeo Laigueglia in Italy, his teammate Quentin Jauregui also had to abandon due to knee pain.

 

Alexandre Geniez after near-miss: It’s the law of sport

Alexandre Geniez had good reason to be disappointed on Sunday in Bordighera at the finish of the fourth stage. In the break all day and doing three attacks to get rid of his six breakaway companions, he was caught with 250 meters to go and finished in 3rd place. Present in the yellow jersey group, Matthieu Ladagnous confirmed his second place overall behind Grivko (Astana).


"It was like the Polymultipliée,” said FDJ manager Marc Madiot, referring to a coastal race in Paris.” It was a 6 kilometer circuit with a climb and a descent and I can say that the riders of the FDJ team were fine."


Quickly, Alex Géniez took place in a group of 7 riders alongside Pellizotti (Androni-Sidermec), Nauleau (Direct Energie), Gautier (AG2R-La Mondiale), Chétout (Cofidis), Diaz (Delko-Marseille) and Romain Feillu (HP BTP-Auber). The gap never exceeded 1.30, the pack being led by Grivko’s teammates.

 

“Alexandre Geniez did a great ride and I really thought he was going to raise his arms,” Madiot said. “When Ag2r-La Mondiale started to chase two laps from the end, he had to give up. Well, it was one of them, Bakelants, who won, but it's still infuriating for Alex to be caught so close to the line. He had the guts and it makes sense!" 

 

"It's very hard to get close so close to the finish but it is the law of sport,” Geniez told Directvelo. “I was planning my attack as it was the kind of stage that pleases me. The non-climbers had no urge to chase so we had to make the selection. Cyril Gautier did not do any work as his team was chasing behind, but it's true that my attack made the break a bit disorganized. I had to make a selection as there were fewer and fewer people who wanted to ride and I decided to attack. I knew it would be difficult but in the end I did not miss much. It came down to the small details. Anyway I'm happy with my form. I will now do the Tour du Haut Var and the Drôme-Ardèche classics. " 

 

Mathieu Ladagnous was attentive and reached the finish in the wake of Grivko and got a beautiful place of honor in the French stage race that has given FDJ the first two wins in team time trial and with Arnaud Démare.

 

Strong Arnold Jeannesson bounces back in new colours

"I was aggressive on the final climb,” runner-up Jeannesson told Directvelo. “Already in the last lap I tried to follow Mikaël Chérel. I knew it would be complicated because Astana was riding. So I preferred to try again on the last climb. I attacked once in the final kilometer, but I was brought back. I had very good legs and when I saw that no one was going, I went again 600 meters from the finish. Unfortunately, I had Bakelants on the wheel, so I knew it would be complicated. He countered with 300 meters to go and I was not able to follow. 

 

“I'm still satisfied with second place. What frustrates me a bit is that as non-sprinter I will not have many chances like that during the year. At Cofidis I start a bit from zero after a year with difficulties.  After I reconsidered my career, it makes me feel good to play my personal card. 

 

“I have to digest Marseillaise, Besseges and the Mediterranean. I'll take a small break and do a little training that will culminate in the Drôme-Ardèche classics.”

 

Yoann Bagot after fifth place: This race was much harder than I expected

"Since the first day it was really hard,” Yoann Bagot told Directvelo after taking fifth overall for Cofidis. “At first I was a bit disappointed seeing the course. I told myself that it was not going to be very difficult but already in the first stage it was very difficult, especially because of the rain. The second was not any rest either since it rained for two hours. The finale with the wet descent was really stressful. As I crashed on the first day, I was not confident and I lost a bit of time. 

 

“The circuit today was really good with the climb. I have rarely done something like this in the past. It was complicated but I did well and in the end I'm happy with my fifth place overall. 

 

“Usually I'm not very good early in the season so it's nice to do well at my first race in France, especially at home in front of my family. It proves that I trained properly this winter. 

 

”I am very well with Arnold (Jeannesson) both on the bike and off. This bodes well for the rest of the season. I will do the Tour Provence, even closer to home. I think it will be even harder than here.”

 

Young Bardiani rider impresses with fourth place at La Méditerranéenne

With the fourth and last stage in Bordighera, Bardiani-CSF has finished its experience at La Méditerranéenne. Simone Andreetta took fourth place, winning the small group sprint 8” behind the three attackers.

 

“I’m happy because this performance showed my condition is growingm” said Andreetta, “even if, looking back to the race finale, I could have got a better result. When Bakelants, Jeannesson and Geniez attacked we waited too much, and this was enough to lose the chance to win. I’m happy with the result, but I’ve also a little bit of regret because I felt good.”

 

Andreetta was the only ride who completed the race for the #GreenTeam. Luca Sterbini had to abandon after the first stage (where he took the mountains classification lead) due to a crash. In the second stage Nicola Ruffoni had to withdraw due to intestinal problems. Stefano Pirazzi, Manuel Bongiorno and Simone Sterbini arrived out of time limit yesterday due to the heavy weather conditions. Nicola Boem (sixth place yesterday) had to withdraw today after a few kilometers due to intestinal problems while Paolo Simion finished the race at half stage.

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