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After the near-miss on stage 1, Sarreau confirmed his potential as a sprinter by beating Farrar and van Staeyen in stage 3 of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes; Vanmarcke took the overall lead

Photo: Unipublic

GROUPAMA-FDJ

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MICHAEL VAN STAEYEN

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SEP VANMARCKE

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TOUR DU POITOU-CHARENTES

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TYLER FARRAR

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27.08.2015 @ 14:37 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Having won the bunch sprint for the minor places two days ago, Marc Sarreau (FDJ) made up for the disappointment by taking his first pro win on stage 3 of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes. After his team had worked to set up a bunch kick, he held off Tyler Farrar (MTN-Qhubeka) and Michael van Staeyen (Cofidis) while a split in the peloton meant that Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) took the overall lead.

 

Going into the 2015 season, FDJ signed two young sprinters to replace Nacer Bouhanni as their second sprint card in addition to Arnaud Demare. In the first months, Lorrenzo Manzin has got most attention, taking his first pro win and getting selected for the Vuelta a Espana.

 

Things have been harder for Marc Sarreau who has been set back by health issues and missed most of the early summer season. However, he is now back at full health and when he finished third in the Tour de l’Ain prologue, it was evident that he was close to top condition.

 

He put that form on show in stage 1 of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes where he finally managed to win a bunch sprint at the pro level. Unfortunately, 12 riders had gone clear in the finale so it was only good enough for 13th.

 

Yesterday Sarreau was again left frustrated in a race that is usually dominated by bunch sprints. Wind made the peloton explode to pieces and even though he was again the fastest from the bunch, another big group had already taken the spoils.

 

With a time trial and hillier final stage coming up, today’s morning stage could be his final chance and finally things came together for the fast Frenchman. With the afternoon TT an important goal for the big teams, no one wanted to ride aggressively so it became a relatively straightforward affair that ended in a bunch sprint where Sarreau came out on top.

 

Evaldas Siskevicius was the lone escapee and he was kept firmly under control by Etixx-QuickStep who wanted to win the sprint with Matteo Trentin. FDJ also lend a hand to prove their faith in their young sprinter and so the bunch sprint was never in doubt.

 

Trentin punctured in the finale and this made it impossible for the Etixx-QuickStep rider to do the sprint. Instead, Sarreau made it three in a row by beating Tyler Farrar and Michael van Staeyen and this time the win was good enough for a stage victory.

 

A split occurred in the finale which saw a big part of the peloton lose six seconds to the stage winner. Sep Vanmarcke was on the right side while race leader Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne) was trapped. As his advantage was only 5 seconds, the Dutchman takes the leader’s jersey.

 

However, he is likely to lose it already later today when the riders tackle the stage that usually decides the race: a flat 23.2m time trial.

 

One for the sprinters

After yesterday’s windy drama, the sprinters hoped to finally get their chance in morning stage on the third day which brought the roders over 98.6km from Monts Sur Guesnes to Loudon. It was the usual rolling terrain with two smaller climbs, one of them coming 10.1km from the finish on the 35.3km finishing circuit.

 

It was a pretty cold morning when the riders gathered for the start and a few raindrops were even falling. Linus Gerdemann (Cult) was absent as they rolled out for their neutral ride.

 

Siskevicius gets clear

Right from the start, a rider from Marseille, one from Wallonie and Kevin Lebreton (Armee) attacked and they stayed clear until the 5km mark when they were brought back. Moments later Evaldas Siskevicius (Marseill) took off and he got no company. Instead, he managed to build an advantage of 30 seconds after 9km of racing.

 

Ludwig De Winter (Wallonie) took off in pursuit at a time when the gap was already a minute while the peloton slowed down. However, the attacking continued as Luke Rowe (Sky) bridged a to-minute gap to De Winter.

 

FDJ and Etixx-QuickStep in control

That was too much action for the peloton which accelerated and brought the chasers back, keeping Siskevicius at 1.40. The Lithuanian won the first KOM sprint while Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) and Rudy Kowalski (Roubaix) were first from the peloton 2.55 later.

 

FDJ and Etixx-QuickStep started to chase and kept the gap around 3 minutes while the rain started to fall harder. At this point, Bryan Coquard (Europcar) rejoined the peloton after a mechanical.

 

The gap comes down

Etixx-QuickStep took complete control and brought the gap down to 2.10 as they entered the final 60km. The continued their steady comeback and when they hit the finishing circuit with 40km to go, the gap was 1.45.

 

At the first passage of the line, Siskevicius only had an advantage of 1.15 but it was enough to win the only intermediate sprint. Alexandre Blain (Marseille) beat Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) in the sprint for second.

 

Puncture for Vanmarcke

Etixx-QuickStep got some help from Bretagne to keep the gap stable at 1.15 as they took on the finishing circuit where it stopped raining. Moments later, FDJ took over with Arthur Vichot.

 

Vanmarcke had an untimely puncture but made it back with 15km to go when it again started to rain. FDJ were still chasing before Etixx-QuickStep took over as they hit the climb where Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty) was one of the riders to get dropped.

 

Turgis takes off

Julien Vermote, Vakoc, and Lukasz Wisniowski were riding hard on the front but didn’t manage to catch Siskevicius before the top. Meanwhile Anthony Turgis (Cofidis) took off to take second in the KOM sprint while Vichot was third.

 

Turgis managed to join Siskevicius but the gap was now only 5 seconds. The Frenchman dropped his companion and while Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuicKStep) and Anthony Roux (FDJ) both punctured, he entered the final 5km with a minimal advantage.

 

Etixx-QuickStep chased hard and brought Turgis back before Europcar took over in the splintering bunch. Trentin was desperately chasing but it was impossible for him to get back for the sprint where Sarreau came out on top.

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