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Dowsett takes his first major UCI win since his stage victory in last year's Giro by putting 5 seconds into Dennis in the short 6.8km time trial at the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe to take the lead in the four-day race

Photo: Movistar Team

ALEX DOWSETT

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CIRCUIT CYCLISTE SARTHE

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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RAMUNAS NAVARDAUSKAS

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ROHAN DENNIS

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09.04.2014 @ 19:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Almost a year after taking a breakthrough win in the long Giro d'Italia time trial, Alex Dowsett (Movistar) found back to his winning ways when he took a very convincing win in today's afternoon time trial at the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe. On the short, flat 6.8km course in Angers, the Brit put impressive five seconds into Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) to take both the stage win and the leader's jersey while Ramunas Navardauskas made it two Garmin riders on the podium by taking third.

 

Almost a year ago Alex Dowsett rose to fame when he beat Bradley Wiggins in the long Giro d'Italia time trial but since then the young Brit has had difficulty producing similar performances. Apart from another British national title, he has failed to add to his tally since that splendid day in May but today he finally brought the drought.

 

In the afternoon time trial at the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, Dowsett set an impressive time of 8.05 on the short 6.8km circuit in Angers, going around the circuit with an average speed of 50.5km/h. That performance was enough to give him a clear stage win as no one was even close to challenge the excellent Brit.

 

His closest rival was Rohan Dennis who again had to settle for second after also having been the runner-up in the recent Criterium International time trial. However, the young Australian was not even close to the win as his time of 8.10 was a 5 seconds slower than Dowsett's on the short, flat course.

 

While Garmin-Sharp have been disappointed to miss out on the win, they can be happy with a solid team performance. In addition to Dennis' ride, Ramunas Navardauskas put in a solid performance to take third and so make it two riders from the American team on the podium.

 

As expected race leader Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) finished far off the mark, losing a massive 1.04 to Dowsett over the short distance and so Dowsett took over the leader's jersey. He holds the lead with a 5-second advantage over Dennis as he heads into tomorrow's hilly third stage of the race. After a flat start to the stage, the riders finish off by doing five laps of a finishing circuit that finishes at the top of the short Cote de la Boucherie, meaning that they will do the climb a total of 6 times in the finale

 

A flat time trial

After the morning half-stage won by Jonas Ahlstrand in a sprint, it was time for the GC riders to come into play in the afternoon time trial. The 6.8km course in Angers was completely flat and well-known by many riders as it is a regular feature in the race.

 

The first rider down the ramp was Marco Minnaard (Wanty) who started his time trial at 15.19 local time. He set a time of 8.48 that was allowed to put him in the hot seat for a little while as none of the early starters were able to beat him.

 

Best time for Oss

Daniel Oss (BMC) was the first rider to improve the early mark when he shaved 19 seconds off the time set by Minnaard. Nathan Brown (Garmin-Sharp) was the first to get close to the Italian but he missed 3 seconds when he crossed the line.

 

Bryan Naulleau (Europcar) equaled Brown's time but it was his teammate Thomas Voeckler who took most attention when he was less than a second from taking an early lead. However, all eyes were now on Tour Mediteraneen TT winner Stephen Cummings (BMC) who didn't disappoint as he lowered his teammate's mark by 6 seconds.

 

Vandewalle new leader

Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp-Endura) and Thomas Löfkvist (IAM) both had disappointing performances and for a long time, the podium was unchanged. However, Belgian champion Kristof Vandewalle (Trek) was expected to challenge the best riders and he did so when he took the lead, going 6 seconds haster than Cummings.

 

Thomas Dekker (Garmin-Sharp) made it onto the provisional podium as he set the third-fastest time while Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Movistar) took fourth. Jerome Coppel (Cofidis) was the first to get close to Vandewalle but he could only manage 2nd with a time of 8.21.

 

Dowsett takes best time

Dowsett was now on the course and he did a fantastic performance when he lowered the mark by a whopping 12 seconds.  Moments later, Dennis finished his ride to slot into second while Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne) made it into third with a time of 8.15.

 

Anthony Roux (FDJ) had a solid ride to take 5th but he was knocked out of the top five when Navardauskas moved onto the podium. Mathias Frank (IAM) did another great time trial by slotting into 6th while Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Shimano) had a very disappointing ride with a time of 8.23.

 

No more specialists

Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne) moved into 4th with a great time of 8.15 and now Dowsett could make a sigh of relief. All the specialists had finished their rides, leaving just the sprinters on the course.

 

Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) could produce an upset but he could only do 8.28. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) was the one to get closest with a time of 8.23. When Bouhanni stopped the clock in 9.09, Dowsett could step onto the podium to celebreate both his stage win and the lead in the race.

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