Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Cofidis) was happy and relieved to score his first victory as a professional in Sunday's GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise. The son of Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle hadn't won a race in four years – ever since he signed for the Cofidis Elite squad, coming out of the team's Espoir programme.
The 27 year-old took the victory in Marseille in front of Frederik Veuchelen (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Ryder Hesjedal (Slipstream) in a three-man sprint, while a group of chasers including Christophe Moreau (Agritubel) was just metres away on the finishing straight. "In the finale, I knew that Hesjedal isn't very fast but I was anxious about Veuchelen, who's quite strong," Duclos-Lassalle told L'Equipe after the race. "Still, I didn't panic. With 1.5km to go, I stopped taking turns as I knew that if I continued my efforts, I'd be done. I took the risk [of being caught by the chasers - ed.], and it worked. Three years ago, I would have been more nervous."
The Cofidis rider was a surprise winner in the event, as even his squad had team-mate Samuel Dumoulin down as captain. "We had planned the team to ride for Samuel, and even more so when Samuel and Hervé were in the right escape," the squad's directeur sportif, Francis Van Londersele, explained. "He deserved [the victory] – he was the one to close all the gaps. Hervé might not have the class of his dad, but he's making a name for himself right now."
Speaking of his father, the young Duclos-Lassalle found it hard to develop his own strengths when he was in the junior ranks. "They said that I was strong because my name was Duclos-Lassalle," he recalled. "It was difficult to live with. But for it to change, I would have to win Paris-Roubaix three times – that would be even more difficult," he added, on a less serious note.