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Frenchman takes hugely surprising win in all-decisive time trial in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes to take over the leader's jersey with just one flat stage coming up

Photo: Sirotti










29.08.2013 @ 18:51 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

No one had mentioned Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) as a potential winner of the decisive time trial of the Tour du Poitou Charentes but the Frenchman defied expectation when he took a hugely surprising victory ahead of well-known time trial specialists Mikail Ignatiev (Katusha) and Gustav Erik Larsson (IAM). He also takes over the leader's jersey and with just one flat stage remaining he appears destined to take his second overall win in the race.


Thomas Voeckler is known as a versatile athlete but he has never delivered any outstanding time trial results. Despite a position in the top 10 on GC, his name was hardly mentioned prior to today's decisive 22,8km race against the clock in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes.


When Mikhail Ignatiev beat the time of Gustav Erik Larsson to move into the hot seat, most were expecting the Russian to take the win. The final riders on the course were mostly sprinters or attackers who had picked up bonus second during the first three stages and none of them were expected to pose any major threat.


However, Voeckler planned to create a surprise. At the intermediate check, he passed in a time that was just 2 seconds slower than the one set by defending champion Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) who was best at that point. He still had something in reserve though and on the final part of the course, he really put down the hammer.


He stopped the clock in 27.37 which was a massive 23 seconds faster than the time set by Ignatiev. As one of the latest starters, he only faced a short wait in the hot seat before being crowned a surprise winner of the stage.


Race leader Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) was never expected to defend his jersey and the sprinter had no chance. He did a good ride to finish 28th but his time loss were too big to keep his position. Instead, Voeckler now has a healthy 26-second lead over Ignatiev and with just one flat stage coming up, it would be a surprise if the Frenchman doesn't bring home his second overall win in the 4-day race.


Mouris sets an early best time

The flat 22,8km time trial was expected to be all-decisive when it comes to deciding the final GC in a race that mostly suits the sprinters. The flat course was perfectly suited to the specialists and it was not surprising that big Jens Mouris (Orica-GreenEDGE) set an early best time ahead of teammate Brett Lancaster.


The Dutchman got to spend quite a bit of time in the hot seat while numerous riders failed to beat his time. Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM) got close but his time was only good enough for 3rd.


Sepulveda new leader

Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne) and Jesus Herrada started almost simultaneously and when they both set intermediate times that were better than Mouris', it was clear that he wouldn't go on to win the stage. Sepulveda lowered the mark by 25 seconds while Herrada moved into the provisional runner-up position.


David Le Lay (Sojasun) pushed Mouris out of the provisional podium while Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) was unable to keep up the speed on the second part of the course and finished outside the provisional top 10. Simon Spilak (Katusha) and Yoann Paillot (La Pomme) both had good rides to make it into 3rd and 4th respectively.


Larsson moves into the hot seat

Larsson and Durbridge were now on the course and they both set intermediate times that were faster than Sepulveda's. Larsson won the battle when he crossed the line in a time that was just fractions of a seconds faster than Sepulveda's while Durbridge - who had raced on a spare bike due to a mechanical - made it into the provisional 3rd.


Larsson found himself in a comfortable position when Ignatiev suddenly passed the line in a time that was 3 seconds faster than the Swede's. The Russian had been behind at the intermediate check but had an impressive ride on the back end of the course.


Voeckler takes the win

Ignatiev now appeared to have locked up the win but Voeckler had different plans. The Frenchman defied all expectation and crushed the opposition, knocking Ignatiev down to second by lowering the mark by a massive 23 seconds.


Bouhanni put in a gutsy ride but couldn't keep his jersey and so Voeckler took over the coveted tunic on the eve of the final stage.



1. Thomas Voeckler 27.37

2. Mikhail Ignatiev +0.23

3. Gustav Erik Larsson +0.26

4. Eduardo Sepulveda

5. Luke Durbridge +0.29

6. Jesus Herrada +0.30

7. Arnaud Gerard +0.36

8. Simon Spilak

9. Yoann Paillot +0.43

10. Angel Madrazo +0.46


General classification:

1. Thomas Voeckler 11.57.58

2. Mikhail Ignatiev +0.26

3. Arnaud Gerard +0.37

4. Gustav Erik Larsson

5. Luke Durbridge +0.40

6. Simon Spilak +0.47

7. Maxime Vantomme +0.50

8. Yoann Paillot +0.54

9. Nacer Bouhanni

10. Eduardo Sepulveda


Points classification:

1. Nacer Bouhanni 75

2. Maxime Vantomme 38

3. Davide Appollonio 31

4. Armindo Fonseca 26

5. Kevin Reza 25


Mountains classification:

1. Dimitri Le Boulch 16

2. Julien Duval 10

3. Flavien Dassonville 8

4. Sebastien Duret 7

5. Cyril Gautier 5


Youth classification:

1. Luke Durbridge 11.58.38

2. Yoann Paillot +0.14

3. Nacer Bouhanni

4. Eduardo Sepulveda

5. Jesus Herrada +0.18


Teams classification:

1. Katusha 35.56.10

2. Bretagne +0.06

3. Orica-GreenEDGE +0.22

4. Movistar +0.25

5. IAM +0.57



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