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After Etixx-QuickStep had split the peloton to pieces, Trentin finished off the job by winning the 28-rider sprint on the second stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes; Gerard defended the lead

Photo: A.S.O.

ARNAUD GERARD

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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MATTEO TRENTIN

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SEP VANMARCKE

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TOUR DU POITOU-CHARENTES

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YAUHENI HUTAROVICH

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26.08.2015 @ 18:39 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Etixx-QuickStep proved that they are the best team in the world to ride in windy conditions when they delivered Matteo Trentin to victory in stage 2 of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes. After they had split the group in the crosswinds, they won the battle against Movistar before Trentin beat Yauheni Hutarovich (Bretagne) and Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) in the 28-rider sprint. Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne) made the selection and defended the lead.

 

Going into yesterday’s opening stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, everybody was extremely nervous due to the windy conditions that could potentially split the field. However, the attentiveness meant that it was impossible to do any damage.

 

For today’s second stage, nice weather was forecasted so most expected a straightforward bunch sprint. However, crosswind attacks are always most efficient when nobody expects them and that turned out to be the case in France too.

 

Unsurprisingly, Etixx-QuickStep were the ones to take the initiative and they reduced the front group to 28 riders. In the end, they finished it all of be delivering Matteo Trentin to his first win since he won stage 7 of last year’s Tour de France.

 

Etixx-QuickStep made their move with around 30km to go at a point when an 8-rider group with Sep Vanmarcke, Paul Martens and Francesco Gavazzi was still ahead. They immediately split the peloton into four groups and when the first two groups merged, it was a 28-rider group that caught the 8 leaders.

 

Most of the big teams had riders in the first group but Movistar had missed the split. Hence, the final part of the stage turned into a huge battle between the Spanish team and Etixx-QuickStep who had Trentin, Mark Renshaw, Tony Martin, Lukasz Wisniowski and Petr Vakoc in the first group.

 

For a long time, the gap stayed around 15 seconds but inside the final 10km, it seemed that Movistar would win the battle. They got to within 6 seconds of the first group before they blew up. With 2km to go, it had gone out to 22 seconds and it was clear that the winner would be one of the 28 riders that were still left in the front group.

 

Etixx-QuickStep had strength in numbers and were lucky that one of their big rivals, Moreno Hofland (LottoNL) had punctured out of the group. With Renshaw doing the lead-out, Trentin held off Yauheni Hutarovich and Vanmarcke to take the win.

 

Race leader Arnaud Gerard had made it into the first group and was pleased to see that second-place Maxime Daniel (Ag2r) missed out on bonus seconds by taking fourth. However, Vanmarcke picked up four seconds and is now equal on time with Daniel, 5 seconds behind Gerard.

 

The Bretagne rider will try to defend his position tomorrow when two stages are scheduled. In the morning, it’s a short, lumpy stage with two small climbs, one of them coming on the 35.3km finishing circuit 10.1km from the finish. In the afternoon, there’s a 23.2km time trial that is likely to decide the overall on the eve of the final stage.

 

A rolling stage

After yesterday’s surprise the sprinters hoped to get their revenge in stage 2 which brought the riders over 194.7km from Blanzac-Porcheresse to La Creche. The riders tackled a total of 5 smaller climbs, four of them in the second half of the stage, before they ended the race by doing a lap of a flat 24.4km finishing circuit.

 

It was a hot day in France when the riders gathered for the start and unlike yesterday there was barely any wind. Hence, the start to the stage was a lot calmer than yesterday as Rudy Kowalski (Roubaix), Alexandre Blain (Marseille), Quentin Pacher (Armee), Ludwig De Winter (Wallonie) and Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) escaped straight from the gun and they already had an advantage of 1.10 at the 5km mark.

 

Bretagne in control

The peloton was in no hurt so the gap had gone out to 3.00 at the 16km mark just before Kowalski beat Blain and Pacher in the first KOM sprint. Unsurprisingly, Bretagne put four riders on the front of the peloton and they slowly allowed the gap to grow to four minutes while Sebastien Chavanel (FDJ) and Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) had mechanicals.

 

Ag2r and Aber 93 started to work with the Bretagne team which had allowed the gap to go out to 4.30 when Blain beat Pacher and Kowalski in the first intermediate sprint. It went out to 5 minutes where Bretagne decided to up the pace to stabilize the situation.

 

The gap comes down

Nonetheless, the escapees reacted well and when they reached the 80km mark, they had added another 30 seconds to their lead. A little later Kowalski beat Blain and Pacher in the second intermediate sprint.

 

Now it was time for the peloton to really start the chase and as they entered the final 100km, they had already brought the gap down to 3.40. A lot of teams were working well together and they had brought it down to 2.10 with87km to go.

 

Vanmarcke and Martens take off

The peloton stopped for a natural break while Blain beat Pacher and Kowalski in the final intermediate sprint and so the gap had gone out to 3.45 with 72km to go. A little later, Kowalski led Laporte and Pacher over the top of the second climb.

 

With 60km to go, the gap was 3.20 and the pace ramped up as they approached the third climb. Sky were the first to kick into action before LottoNL-Jumbo took over, launching Vanmarcke and Paul Martens off in an attack.

 

The junction is made

Francesco Gavazzi (Southeast) joined the trio which crested the summit 1.50 behind the leader that had been led over the top by Kowalski, followed by Blain and Laporte. At this point, the peloton was at 2.20 and it was Bretagne back on the front.

 

With 55km to go, the gaps were 1 and 2 minutes respectively and while the progress stalled for the main group, the chasers got closer. They made the junction just before Kowalski led Blain and De Winter over the top of the fourth climb with 47km to go.

 

Etixx-QuickStep go on the attack

Etixx-QuickStep now accelerated hard in the peloton and as there was a crosswind, the group split into four groups. The two first groups merged and were now just 50 seconds behind the leaders.

 

Sky took over the pace-setting while Theo Bos, Frederik Brun and Steven Lammertink were suffering at the rear end of the race. As they hit the finishing circuit, the British team had brought the gap down to just 15 seconds while the next group was at 45 seconds and the third one at 1.00.

 

The leaders are caught

Moments later, the break was caught and it was a 36-rider peloton with Wout Poels (Team Sky), Sébastien Turgot, Maxime Daniel (AG2R La Mondiale), Roy Jans, Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty Group Gobert), Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka), Francesco Gavazzi (Southeast), Linus Gerdemann, Rasmus Quaade, Alex Kirsch (Cult Energy Pro Cycling), Rudy Kowalski (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), Alexandre Blain, Evaldas Siskevicius (Team Marseille 13-KTM), Quentin Pacher (Armee), Johan Le Bon, Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Bryan Coquard, Angelo Tulik (Europcar),  Ludwig De Winter (Wallonia -Brussels), Arnaud Gérard, Daniel McLay, Kevin Ledanois, Yauheni Hutarovich (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Tony Martin, Mark Renshaw, Matteo Trentin, Julian Alaphilippe Petr Vakoc, Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-Quick Step), Jos Van Emden, Moreno Hofland, Tan Castelijns, Nick Van Der Lijke, Sep Vanmarcke and Paul Martens Twan Castelijns (Nl Team Lotto-Jumbo) that held a 17-second advantage over the peloton. It quickly went out to 45 seconds as LottoNL-Jumbo set a fast pace.

 

Martin led Castelijns and Martens over the top of the final climb before they started the final lap with a 35-seconds advantage. Here Turgot launched a brief first attack.

 

Movistar lead the chase

Ledanois and Siskevicius dropped back to the second group which was just 20 seconds behind. Luke Rowe tried to bridge across but he would never make it.

 

Gavazzi was the next to get dropped while Movistar chased hard as they entered the final 15km. It was abig duel between Etixx-QuickStep and the Spanish team who had brought the gap down to 10 seconds when Hofland punctured out of the group with 10km to go.

 

Trentin wins the stage

Kevin Ista (Wallonie) and Ben Swift (Sky) unsuccessfully tried to bridge the gap. Next Enrique Sanz and Benat Intxuasti (movistar) tried but they never made it.

 

With 5km to go, the gap was down to 6 seconds as Jasha Sütterlin did a lot of work for Movistar. However, they were losing ground and with 2km to go, it was 22 seconds. In the end, the front group sprinted for the win, with Trentin coming out on top.

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