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"In the finale, I was serene. If it had been ten years ago, I might have attacked before the finish. But now I show more patience. I've already won sprints at Grand Prix Plouay and Paris-Nice."

Photo: Sirotti

ANTHONY DELAPLACE

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ARNOLD JEANNESSON

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ARTHUR VICHOT

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BRYAN COQUARD

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DIRECT ENERGIE

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ETOILE DE BESSÈGES

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FORTUNEO-SAMSIC

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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KEVIN LEDANOIS

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SYLVAIN CHAVANEL

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THIBAUT PINOT

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05.02.2016 @ 21:31 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sylvain Chavanel could not have wished for a better start to his time at Direct Energie as he came out on top in the queen stage of the Etoile de Besseges. Having joined a 22-rider group of strong climbers on the tough stage, he emerged as the fastest in the sprint where he beat Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) and Arthur Vichot (FDJ) to take both the stage victory and the overall lead.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Sylvain Chavanel: Ten years ago I would have attacked, now I am patient

"We are in a positive spiral,” Chavanel told Directvelo. “The work pays off. The atmosphere is top and it affects the results. We did the perfect race today. We had three riders in the break of 29, Bryan (Coquard), Tutu (Tulik) and me. 

 

"In the finale, I was serene. If it had been ten years ago, I might have attacked before the finish. But now I show more patience. I've already won sprints at Grand Prix Plouay and Paris-Nice. I was even more serene here with Angelo as my lead-out man. I told him to drop me off at 150 meters from the line, that is what he did perfectly. It was a tough sprint. 

 

”What more can be said ? It was great ... All the favorites were in front. I was afraid it would be a mess. I attacked one time. The reacted behind and came back.

 

“The team has a string of wins and the team is really confident. Bryan (Coquard) had told me before the start that the team won this stage around Bessèges every year since 2011. So I could not miss out.

 

“We take it day by day. We will not change. It's great to win so early in the season. I am in the 17th year of my career. It's complicated to start from the beginning of February. I did well at the training camp and was there for fifteen days. It pays off early and I'm delighted. This gives confidence to the team. 

 

”I do not know the last two stages. I'm not on top of my game but when I have a race number on my back, I want to show myself. The feelings are not so bad. I have my goals in mind. I will do as I usually do, keep them for myself." 

 

Arthur Vichot with mixed emotions after near-miss in Besseges

"I have mixed emotions,” third-placed Arthur Vichot told “On one hand, there is the satisfaction of having been in contention for the win and on the other hand there’s the disappointment of missing out on this success. After all the health problems that I had in 2015, I still want to focus the positive.

 

“We are not at a WorldTour race but we were riding hast at the front. There were strong riders. On the final circuit, it was necessary to attack or control. We preferred the latter option. Thibaut (Pinot) and Sebastian (Reichenbach) did a great job. We were a little overwhelmed at 800m although it was not the most fierce sprint in the world. 

 

“We are early in the season, we must take the positives. Sylvain Chavanel was strong and he deserves his success. 

 

“The stage of tomorrow, with the Mur du Laudun, does inspire me. I finished fifth there two years ago. The position will be important. Then you have to close your eyes. There are some suicide riders in the sprint at the Etoile de Bessèges."

 

"I am happy with this first race week so far as I make efforts that show that I have recovered well. This confirms my feelings in training. I would have been really happy to win but I realize that after a year without winning, I just lost my automation. We were a group of 20 and in this context, it is not easy. In this case it was decided at the time we launched the sprint and then we stayed in our place.

 

 

"I finished fifth in Laudun two years ago and I think it can suit me. However, rain and wind are announced and we will have to be vigilant, and well placed in the finale."

 

"It was finally a race for puncheurs, not climbers," said FDJ sports director Yvon Madiot. "There were dead moments on the flats and fast attacks on the climbs. In the end, after an attempt of Sébastien, Thibaut escaped with Coppel, Dupont and Arnold Jeannesson and I thought it was the right move but they failed to stay away. This stage was definitely not hard enough for us. Then Thibaut and Sebastian ride for Arthur and he took third place. Collectively we have nothing to reproach ourselves. Thibaut is strong and can do a good final classification in Sunday's time trial although Coppel seems very strong."

 

 

Thibaut Pinot frustrated to have bonus seconds in Besseges

"I was expecting this scenario,” Pinot told Directvelo. “It was the most difficult stage but the final circuit did not favour a breakaway. There were strong riders in front. Today, there were riders motivated to fight. This is a good thing. The cooperation was not always very good, but I understood in the second lap that we had a chance to stay away. 

 

“Boris Dron attacked on the final circuit. We chased with Sebastian (Reichenbach) to set up a sprint finish. It's a shame that Arthur could not win but it's good to find the "real" Arthur. 

 

“I regret the bonuses. They are often taken by the same riders. It's almost impossible to win the overall. I'm 14 seconds behind Sylvain Chavanel, 12 seconds behind Tony Gallopin. I do not see the point of having as many bonuses. 

 

“Direct Energie will decide what will happen. I think they will work for a bunch sprint. Bryan Coquard is the number one favorite for Saturday's stage. " 

 

Bryan Coquard comes up short on Besseges climbs

"I knew this stage,” former race leader Bryan Coquard told Directvelo. “I made ​​the effort on the descent of the first climb because there were a lot of riders in the front – and many good climbers. I'm still not on top of my game. I programmed my peak form for Paris-Nice. 

 

”I was especially focusing on Tony Gallopin to relieve Angelo and Sylvain. He attacked a lot. I had to let go on the last climb. I had heavy legs. I trusted the two teammates in the front. Seeing everyone pedaling, I soon saw that they were among the two strongest. At the finish, I heard Mino had won. This is the best. He was the favourite rider of the spectators.

 

“We will perhaps not take everything. Gallo (Gallopin) won in Laudun last year. It will be a little complex. I think I can win, but we can’t allow Sylvain to miss a split. We will try to control the stage for a bunch sprint.”

 

U23 world champion abandons in Besseges

Fortuneo Vital Concept had two riders in the break. Maxime Cam obtained his first top 10 result as a professional while TT specialist moved into contention for the overall win as he is now 7th overall.

 

"I am satisfied to have been there at the finish but a little disappointed with my final,” Cam said.

 

U23 world champion Kevin Ledanois, still suffering after his crash on day one, preferred to give up. He should be back at La Méditerrnéenne in a week.

 

Arnold Jeannesson back on track after joining Cofidis

After a difficult final time at FDJ, Arnold Jeannesson showed that he is back on track by riding with the beat in the queen stage.

"This is a quiet start,” he told L’Equipe before the start “I am also here to do my first race with my new team. La Marseillaise, Etoile and the Tour of Med are not races that suit me well but it will be my preparation for Paris-Nice which will be a true test of my first season. 

 

"The team trusts me. For me, Cofidis is a new challenge. After the last five seasons spent at FDJ, I felt the need to turn everything around. I must now find me a place again. I know I'm going to play my card again and regain a leading role in some races which has not happened for a long time. 

 

"I had reached a point where I needed a change of air. In Marc Madiot’s team, I fell asleep a bit. I also experienced a succession of injuries and illnesses which did not help. I am thirty years now, I am getting closer to the end and I did not want to miss out on certain things, like returning to certain racs, for example.”

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