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Cofidis takes control of the peloton to neutralize the final two attackers and finally delivers Simon and Maté to a 1-2 in the uphill sprint at the GP Plumelec 

Photo: Sirotti

GP DE PLUMELEC-MORBIHAN

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JULIEN SIMON

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LUIS ANGEL MATE

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31.05.2014 @ 22:18 Posted by Emil Axelgaard
Cofidis completely dominated today's French one-day race GP Plumelec-Morbihan as Julien Simon and Luis Angel Maté made it a 1-2 for the French team. After Yoann Bagot had been part of the early break for the team, they took control in the finale to reel in the final two escapees and finally delivered their two fast riders perfectly for the uphill sprint.
 
In his fabulous 2012 season, Julien Simon added the prestigious French one-day race GP Plumelec-Morbihan to his growing palmares but last year he could only manage 3rd in his title defence. After a disappointing 2013 season, things seem to be back on track for the talented Frenchman and so he was naturally one of the great favourites for the 2014 edition of the race.
 
The race ends on a small climb that grew to fame in 2008 when it featured at the end of the first stage of the Tour de France where Alejandro Valverde powered to a stage win and the first yellow jersey of the race. As a puncheur who excels in that kind of uphill sprint, Simon is perfectly suited to the race and so his team set out with a mission to again conquer the important French one-day event.
 
Simon didn't disappoint his teammates who took control in the finale to reel in Vegard Stake Laengen (Bretagne) and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) who were the final two surviving members from an early break that had also included Yoann Bagot from the French team. The team delivered their captain perfectly and in fact did so well that Luis Angel Maté held on to second to make it a 1-2 for Cofidis. Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne) finished a distant third.
 
The 182km race started and finished in the Breton city of Plumelec and mostly consisted of circuits. After a rolling first part, the riders did 7 laps of a big circuit and finally 5 laps of a smaller one. The main obstacle was the key climb of Cadoudal that featured on both the long and the short circuit.
 
After 12km of racing a 10-rider group escaped as Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (Fdj.fr), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), Julien Duval, Rudy Kowalski (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), Yoann Paillot (La Pomme Marseille 13), Olivier Chevalier (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Yoann Bagot (Cofidis), Gediminas Kaupas (Differdange-Losch) and Vegard Stake Laengen (Bretagne-Séché) took off. BigMat-Auber 93 had missed the move and for a long time the continental team tried hard to bring the group back.
 
The gap stayed below the 1-minute mark for quite a while before the small French team finally seemed to lose the battle. The gap went up to 1.50 but the BigMat riders refused to give up and for almost the entire race, they kept the advantage below the 2-minute mark.
 
As they approached the finale, BigMat upped the pace and when they hit the main climb with 76km to go, the gap was down to 1.15. This prompted a reaction from the escapees and Kaupas, Kowalski, Chevalier and Lecuisinier were all dropped.
 
The six remaining escapees managed to increase the gap to a maximum of 2.20 but the peloton now started to chase in earnest. A gradual elimination started as a lot of riders fell off the pace while Antoine Lavieu (La Pomme), Loic Pestiaux (Wallonie) and Matteo Gozzi (Nankang) tried to bridge the gap to the leaders.
 
As the peloton again slowed down, the trio stayed ahead for a little while before Lavieau was brought back as the last counterattacker. Romain Feillu (Bretagne) and Theo Vimpere (BigMat) were the next to try to bridge the gap but as FDJ had now taken control of the peloton, their attempt was doomed.
 
At the end of the third lap of the small circuit, the gap was down to less than 30 seconds and this prompted Gougeard to take off on his own. Paillot fell off the pace of the chase group that managed to rejoin the Ag2r rider.
 
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) was one of several riders who tried to bridge tha gap but as FDJ were constantly riding hard, it was an impossible mission. With 16km to go, the gap was 18 seconds and as they started the final lap, the group was almost caught.
 
With the peloton breathing down their neck, Gougeard and Stake Laengen tried again and they managed to reopen their advantage. With Bagot back in the fold, however, Cofidis took control of the 25-rider peloton and just before the flamme rouge the front duo were caught.
 
From there, Cofidis did a great lead-out and while riders like Anthony Geslin (FDJ) and Bryan Coquard (Europcar) fell off the pace, Simon powered away to take his second win in the French one-day race.

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