It was feisty and fast paced, but when the bunch sprint arrived, it was that man Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) who stormed over the line to take his 20th victory of the season. Simone Ponzi (Southeast) and Cannondale-Garmin’s Ramunas Navardauskas rounded out the podium in Brittany.
The Breton circuit race always produces exciting racing with seemingly constant attacks and selections, and although today ended in a bunch sprint, it really wasn’t for the want of trying. The action started to fizz after the early break of the day was eventually reeled in with 45km to go. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) attacked with 35km to go and was joined by a very handy group of six riders including BMC’s Silvan Dillier and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana). They clung by their fingernails to a slim advantage that hardly exceeded 30 seconds as the chasing pack led by Etixx-Quickstep, Europcar and Trek Factory Racing (all absent from the break) pulled huge turns on the front – Thomas Voeckler was in full gurning mode.
Key point on the circuit to launch attacks is without doubt the wood clad climb of the Côte de Ty-Marrac (1.5km at 5.5% average gradient). On the penultimate ascent Dillier and Lutsenko pulled away and by the time they hit the climb for the last time with 4km to go, they held less than 8 seconds. Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Christophe LaPorte (Cofidis) bridged to join them and they worked well to stay ahead of the chase. Dillier buried himself to help Van Avermaet launch a solo attack, but they were all together by the flamme rouge and there was only ever going to be one winner from there. The Norwegian is on a roll:
Now I’m looking forward to the twenty-first victory. The world championship is my next big goal.
Look out Richmond!
Rider(s) of the Day
Twenty wins in a single season is a huge feat, but today the VeloVoices hat tip and podium kisses go jointly to Silvan Dillier and Alexey Lutsenko. Their efforts in holding off a baying chase group for over 40km was immense, particularly when you consider Etixx-Quickstep’s Tony Martin was leading the line for most of those.
Three things we loved
1 It is a World Tour race, isn’t it? This race is anything but a boring procession to an inevitable bunch finish. It’s a beautiful, full blooded, edge-of-your seat race that can’t fail to grip you over the final 50km as the speed increases and the attacks ping. Yet, if not for France 3, it would not have been available as live coverage. For a WorldTour race that is pretty pathetic! But you can catch the action here, so hold on to your hats!
2 Viking raid Alexander Kristoff wasn’t the only Scandinavian rider to plunder the Morbihan today. Rasmus Guldhammer (Cult Energy Pro Cycling) and Magnus Cort (Orcica-GreenEDGE) both survived the attrition to fight their way into a top ten place. Add to this the attack from Breschel and it’s safe to say this VeloVoice team member is very happy indeed. Long may the raids continue!
3 One, two, buckle my shoe Lotto Soudal’s Tim Wellens backed up his brilliant win at the Eneco Tour earlier this month with a solid performance on the Breton roads. His attacks made the initial selection for the break and again when the break split on the Ty-Marrec. There is no doubt he would have held on longer with Dillier and Lutsenko if not for an unfortunate shoe mishap.
1 Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) 05:31:32
2 Simone Ponzi (Southeast) same time
3 Ramunas Navardauskas (Team Cannondale-Garmin) s/t
4 Grega Bole (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) s/t
5 Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) s/t
6 Anthony Roux (FDJ) s/t
7 Amindo Fonseca (Bretagne-Séché Environment) s/t
8 Wout Poels (Team Sky) s/t
9 Rasmus Guldhammer (Cult Energy Pro Cycling) s/t
10 Magnus Cort (Orica-GreenEDGE) s/t