Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) emerged triumphant in the bunch sprint, edging out compatriot Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Leopard) and the diminutive Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r La Mondiale). The Italian recorded his third win of the season – his biggest for many a year – after the Trofeo Laigueglia and Coppa Agostoni.
As is often the case in circuit races, the Breton semi-classic only really came alive on the final of nine loops, once the main break had been brought back. Bidding for their day in the sun, the break contained only riders from French teams and, to the delight of the locals, one of them was from Bretagne-Seche, Vegard Laengen, plus Natnael Berhane (Europcar), Julien Fouchard (Cofidis) and Christophe Laborie (Sojasun). The foursome built a healthy advantage of over 15 minutes until the heckling crowd finally awoke the peloton from its slumbers, prompting FDJ and Argos-Shimano to lead the chase.
By halfway, that gap was down to 12 minutes but once Omega Pharma-Quick Step rallied the troops it started to tumble. With two laps to go it was under three minutes prompting a whole host of riders, on the initiative of Pavel Brutt (Katusha), to try to bridge. However, just before the final circuit everyone was back in the bunch and the race really came alive with riders such as Romain Bardet (Ag2r) trying to slip away. But the bunch was having none of it.
Dries Devenyns (OPQS) skipped off the front with 20km to go, swiftly followed by Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano), who scuppered Devenyns’ chances when he refused to work in deference to his team leader John Degenkolb. The pair was caught, prompting others to attack. Next a trio comprising Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Kristijan Koren (Cannondale) and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol), who had escaped on the final Ty-Marec ascent, only to be pulled back with 10 km to go by BMC, with That Boy Taylor Phinney pulling on the front.
Riders then started pinging off the front of the peloton in quick succession. First up was Michael Kwiatkowski (OPQS) who was joined by Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Degenkolb. Daniel Oss (BMC), Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) and Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM) subsequently joined the party.
3km from the line, with everyone in the break sizing one another up, Gasparotto was the first to break ranks. He was caught and van Avermaet was the next to chance his arm. He managed to create a gap but was swamped by the swiftly advancing peloton with less than a kilometre left. With riders spread out all over the road, it looked as if Nizzolo would emerge triumphant but the hot pink, blue and green of Pozzato came from a long way back to deny him on the line. The winner confirmed:
I’m really happy to be able to win such an important race. We knew that it would be difficult to win the sprint from the front. I preferred to wait in my opponents’ wake until the final moment on the straight, downhill finish then launch my own sprint.
At this time of year many riders are looking to book a berth in their national side at the World Championships or maybe attract the eye of another team and score a new contract. Our winner falls into the first group.
Pippo Pozzato’s recent return to fine form is in response to remarks made by the Italian team selector and former teammate, Paolo Bettini at the end of July in La Gazzetta dello Sport, when he was warned that without results his participation at the World Championships in Tuscany was hanging by a thread:
Pozzato is in a downward spiral and I hope he wakes up soon. He has missed a lot of opportunities. Words are not enough, he must get results.
It was time for the 31-year-old to let his legs respond. He won the Coppa Agostoni ten days ago and now the demanding GP Ouest France after an amazing sprint. Clearly, the harsh words had done the trick.
— MeridaProRoadRacing (@MeridaProRoad) September 1, 2013
1. Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) 5:59:54
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Leopard) same time
3. Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r La Mondiale) s/t
4. Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) s/t
5. Daniele Bennati (Saxo-Tinkoff) s/t
6. Thor Hushovd (BMC) s/t
7. Elia Viviani (Cannondale) s/t
8. Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) s/t
9. Borut Bozic (Astana) s/t
10. John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) s/t