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Stage 2 winner Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar) on the podium.
Europcar neo-pro uses his track skills to win at Bessèges
Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar) confirmed he sprinting ability and professional potential by winning the second stage of the Etoile des Bessèges race in the south of France.
Coquard is just 20 but won in his second professional race after finishing sixth on his debut. He was second in the Under 23 World Championships last year and won a silver medal on the track in the Omnium event at the London Olympics.
Much like Mark Cavendish, Coquard has combined his sprinting speed with track-honed sprinting skills.
"The track made me the sprinter that I am. My best quality is my jump," he told Equipe after his victory.
"It's a great feeling to win, I'm really super happy," he explained to directvelo.com. "The team worked very well! It feels a little odd to win like that, so soon. Yesterday (Wednesday) I was very disappointed with my sixth place, I took it badly. I had the legs but not the luck. I went off the road with a kilometre to go. I wanted revenge and everything went perfectly."
Coquard is following in the footsteps of fellow Frenchman Arnaud Démare. He won the 2011 Under 23 world road race title and made a successful debut with FDJ in 2012, winning the Vattenfall Cyclassics, Le Samyn and stage at the Tour of Qatar.
Démare finished behind Andre Greipel on the first stage of the Tour Down Under and both young Frenchman are expected to develop into world class sprinters in the future and perhaps challenge Cavendish in the high-speed sprints at the Tour de France.
"I am still very young, so it is important to take things one step at a time," Coquard said. "This stage was perfect for me. I did not know the final but I was pleasantly surprised when we went through the finish the first time. Jérôme Cousin and Sébastien Chavanel really did a great job for me in the final kilometers. Sebastian sheltered me from a lot of wind and I was perfectly placed. After that I just had to finish things off. I am very happy."
Coquard will head to Malaysia after completing the Etoile de Bessèges, to ride the Tour de Langkawi.