GP Ouest France-Plouay review

Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen powered across the finish line alone, arms aloft, to deliver his team’s second victory of the day. He timed his bid for victory to perfection, thwarting the sprinters’ teams as he bridged in the final kilometres of the race and then overhauled lone breakaway Rui Costa (Movistar), who had escaped on the final climb of the Cote de Ty-Marrec with 5km remaining. Costa avoided being swamped by the fast approaching bunch on the line to hold onto second place. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Sharp) won the sprint for third.

After the stage Boasson Hagen said:

I’m really happy with that and it was nice to get the win today. The team did a really good job to keep me up there all day and heading into the finish. I was riding a lot in the bunch with Thomas and Christian [Knees] who helped me out a lot. I felt good when I jumped clear and I felt confident that I could take the win. The whole team did lots of pulling on the front during the day so it was great to be able to finish it off. It has been quite a while since my last victory so it was nice to see the form is good. Hopefully it can continue.

The 234km blue-riband race comprised nine laps of a hilly circuit in Brittany – one of cycling’s heartlands –  thickly thronged with enthusiastic spectators enjoying the mild sunshine.

Not one, not two, but three breakaways

It took no time at all for the first breakaway to form with Julien Berard (AG2R La Mondiale), Christophe Kern and Anthony Charteau (both Europcar), Pierre Cazaux (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun) and Laurent Pichon (Bretagne-Schuller), later joined by Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ-BigMat). After gaining an advantage of around 11 minutes, surprisingly, the sprinters’ teams worked hard to pull them back with still 90km remaining.

5km later a second breakaway went clear with Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Marcus Burghardt (BMC), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Katusha), Sebastien Duret (Bretagne-Schuller), Takashi Miyazawa (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) and Rein Taaramae (Cofidis). Burghardt and Kuschynski soloed off but they were all reeled in with 30km to go.

To the delight of the crowds, this prompted 2007 race winner Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) to have a go. [Quelle surprise! -Ed] He was joined by Cyril Lemoine and Jerome Coppel (both Saur-Sojasun), Ben Hermans (RadioShack-Nissan), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha) and Tom-Jelte Slagter (Rabobank). Wisely, the peloton kept them on a tight leash and they never gained more than 20 seconds. As a consequence, Marco Pinotti (BMC), Jeremie Galland (Saur-Sojasun) and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) bridged across with 15km but, despite further probing attacks, everyone was safely back in the bunch with 7km left heading to the base of the Cote de Ty-Marrec with many having earned valuable airtime for their sponsors.

The peloton in the GP Ouest France-Plouay (image courtesy of official race site)

Decisive move

Costa caught everyone by surprise attacking out of the shady side of the road at the foot of the final climb 5km from the finish. Despite others trying to bridge, he was several seconds clear over the summit before 3km later the winner soloed out of the peloton to join him and rested on his wheel before time-trialling away to victory. It was Boasson Hagen’s first win since Norwegian national road race championships in late June.

Edvald Boasson Hagen wins the 2012 GP Ouest France-Plouay (image courtesy of Sky)

Closing thoughts

A confident and calculated win by Edvald Boasson Hagen, who worked tirelessly during the Tour de France for winner and Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins. With Mark Cavendish now also part of the Sky set-up, Boasson Haagen-Dazs, as we like to call him at VeloVoices Towers, has found his opportunities to shine a bit restricted. He took a top five finish in last weekend’s Vattenfall Cyclassics, demonstrating his fine form.

Many were looking forward to seeing Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) in action today but sadly he retired halfway through the race feeling unwell. I suspect he’s simply worn himself out after his Tour exploits, but he’ll be back.

The French crowd got very excited when Voeckler made one of his trademark attacks, particularly since there hasn’t been a French winner since Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ-BigMat) in 2008. But the sprinters’ teams weren’t keen to let him get away and in truth, those teams rather wore themselves out chasing down the breaks and hence were hesitant to respond to the attacks of the winner and runner-up.

Race result

1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) 5:55:28

2. Rui Costa (Movistar) +0:05

3. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Sharp) same time

4. Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) s/t

5. Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) s/t

6. Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM) s/t

7. Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Nissan) s/t

8. Borut Bozic (Astana) s/t

9. Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) s/t

10. Luca Paolini (Katusha) s/t

Link: Official website

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