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Having joined forces with Voeckler and Jauregui, Roux managed to keep the peloton at bay in the morning stage of the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe; he won the 3-rider sprint to take both the stage victory and the overall lead

Photo: Sirotti

ANTHONY ROUX

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CIRCUIT CYCLISTE SARTHE

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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THOMAS VOECKLER

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08.04.2015 @ 12:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Anthony Roux (FDJ) created a huge surprise when he won the flat morning stage of the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe from a breakaway. Having joined forces with Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r) and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), he held off the hard-chasing peloton before beating his companions in a 3-rider sprint to take both the stage victory and the overall lead.

 

The Circuit Cycliste Sarthe is usually a great event for sprinters who have lots of opportunities in the flat French terrain. However, the small 6-rider teams often make it difficult to control the races and things are never made any easier by the many technical finishing circuits in the French race.

 

Yesterday those two factors were nearly enough to deny the sprinters the chance to sprint for the win in the opening stage when the final two escapees were only caught inside the final kilometre. Today the sprint teams again failed to get organized in time to avoid a hectic finale and unlike yesterday they never managed to catch the leaders.

 

Most were focused on keeping something in reserve for the afternoon time trial when they took off for the morning stage and so it didn’t take long for Anthony Roux, Thomas Voecker and Quentin Jauregui to escape. With plenty of firepower in the group, however, the Cofidis team of overall leader Nacer Bouhanni was unwilling to give them too much leeway and their advantage was never bigger than 1.20.

 

As they approached the final 3 laps of the 6.2km finishing circuit, the escapees were only 30 seconds ahead but by the time they started the first lap, they had extended their advantage to 50 seconds. Despite the hard work from Cofidis, they extended their lead by 5 seconds in the first lap and they only lost 3 seconds in the second lap.

 

This meant that Cofidis had to close a 52-second gap in the final 6.2km and that turned out to be impossible. The trio stayed away and unsurprisingly, Roux turned out to be the fastest in the 3-riders sprint when he held off Jauregui and Voeckler. Bouhanni won the sprint for 4th a few seconds later.

 

With the win, Roux also takes the overall lead and he goes into the afternoon time trial with a 3-second advantage over Jauregui. Being a runner-up at the French TT championships, the FDJ rider should be able to defend himself well in the short, flat, technical 6.8km test in Angers.

 

A flat morning stage

After the flat opener, Circuit Cycliste Sarthe continued with a short morning stage that was again expected to suit the sprinters. It brought the riders over 83.9km from Varades to Angers and only had a small category 3 climb in the early part. The riders ended the stage by doing 3 laps of a 6.2km finishing circuit that included a very small rise and was pretty technical.

 

For the second day in a row, the riders had beautiful sunshine when they left Varades this morning. Most were focusing on the afternoon time trial and so there was no big battle to join the early breakaway. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r) attacked straight from the gun and after a short chase, Anthony Roux (FDJ) managed to bridge the gap. The junction was made after 8.8km of racing and at this point, the escapees were 1.05 ahead.

 

A small gap

The peloton was in no mood to let them get too much of an advantage and for some time, they kept the gap between 1.00 and 1.30. It briefly came down to 55 seconds but when Roux beat Jauregui and Voeckler in the intermediate sprint, it was back up to 1.15.

 

Jauregui beat Roux and Voeckler in the only KOM sprint at a time when the gap was down to 55 seconds but suddenly the peloton took a small breather and it went out to 1.20. Cofidis started to work though and at the 48km mark, the gap was only 55 seconds.

 

The break stays away

With 33km to go, it seemed to be almost over for the escapees who were only 40 seconds ahead and it even came down to 30 seconds with 8km later. As they started the first lap of the finishing circuit, however, they had extended the advantage to 50 seconds.

 

Impressively, the three escapees managed to extend their advantage by 5 seconds during the first lap and the Cofidis team was now in panic mode. Despite their hard chase, however, they only managed to reduce the deficit by 3 seconds on the second lap. With 3km to go, the gap was still 35 seconds and in the end, Roux came away with the win

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