Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) has a fourth victory in 2015 after beating Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) in a two-man sprint at the Tour du Gévaudan Languedoc-Roussillon on stage 1 of the 2.1 race. Pinot and Voeckler went clear from a select group in the final kilometres of the Col de la Pierre Plate where the FDJ rider pipped his compatriot on the line after good work by Arnold Jeanneson and Kenny Elissonde on the 7.5% average climb.
"We rode to control the breakaway," Pinot told Directvelo. "The legs were pretty good, so we upped the pace a bit on the second climb. Arnold and Kenny did a big job. Each rider has fulfilled his role. When Romain Bardet attacked on the climb, I did not go because I wanted to stay with Kenny. I told him to continue at a good pace. We were riding very fast. We knew it was going to be complicated to get away."
Pinot added Elissonde was crucial to setting up his stage win by keeping the pace and nullifying any attempts by rivals to attack off the front.
"Kenny rode until two kilometres from the finish. When he was gone, we watched each other a lot. Stéphane Rossetto and Thomas Voeckler were strong. For Thomas, his presence in the group showed he is fit," Pinot said.
"It was a nice sprint. I did not want to let go after the work of the team. I'm happy to win a summit finish, because this is my specialty. This is my fourth success in a summit finish this year. It's good to prepare for the Tour of Lombardy."
Pinot turns his attention to defending his race lead with stage 2 finishing in Mende, the sight of Tour de France's stage 14 finish where Pinot and Bardet where caught out by Steve Cummings and lost the stage win to the canny Briton. However Pinot was second in Mende at last year's Tour du Gévaudan Languedoc-Roussillon behind Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale) as he finished fourth overall.
"It will be tricky tomorrow. Now I know my opponents, namely Stéphane Rossetto and Thomas Voeckler. When Thomas is in the same time as you, you have to be wary. He knows the race well," he added. "The legs were good for me today. That was my first effort in a racing on a big mountain for a month. I did not know where I was."
Pinot has just one overall victory on his palmares, the 2011 edition of the Settimana Ciclistica Lombarda by Bergamasca.
Boris Vallée moves to Fortuneo-Vital Concept
Boris Vallée has moved to French Pro-Continental squad Bretagne-Séché Environnement, to be known as Fortuneo-Vital Concept from next season, after two years with Lotto Soudal. The 22-year-old, who signed a two year deal with the team, offers a fast finish in sprint finishes and the team's general manager Emmanuel Hubert explained they will look to further his develop his talents.
"Boris is not only a great hope of Belgian cycling, he also learned his trade by sprinting alongside Greipel and Debusshere for two years," Hubert, who added Vallée's signing represents the team focus on youth. "We strongly believe in him. He have expanded our young group with Kevin Ledanois, Franck Bonnamour Dan McLay and even Eduardo Sepulveda who is only 24-years-old.
"Of course we must achieve short term results but the commitment of three years from Fortuneo Vital Concept [as team sponsor] allows us to have a medium-term vision," Hubert added. "These two partners have also indicated their ambitions on the Belgian market so we must be more present in Belgium, and recruiting Boris also goes in this direction. Like Bonnamour and McLay, Boris has a taste for the classics. With these three riders, we have potential for one-day races in Belgium
The team also signed Steve Tronet (Auber 93), Julien Loubet (Marseille 13 KTM), Chris Anker Sorensen (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Franck Bonnamour (neo) for the following season.
Vallée had top ten finishes on stages at the Tour Down Under, Tour of Norway and Tour de Wallonie, alongside top ten's in Ronde Van Zeeland Seaports, GP de Denain Porte du Hainaut and Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen.
Previewing the men's road race podcast
There is just one race left in the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, the elite men's road race which is proving to be one of the most open events in Richmond. The 259.9km course looks to suit the classics men with names such as Peter Sagan (Slovakia), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Zdeněk Štybar (Czech Republic), John Degenkolb (Germany), Michael Matthews (Australia) and the Belgian trio of Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet.
With rain expected to hit the peloton in the early afternoon, the weather is sure to play a role in deciding the rainbow jersey just as much as the Libby Hill and 23rd Street climbs. In the pre-race podcast, Cyclingnews editor in chief Daniel Benson sits down with the North American crew of Laura Weislo, Kirsten Frattini and Pat Malach to discuss how they see the race playing out and made their podium predictions.
Top ten men to watch World Championships road race
Every rider dreams of wearing the rainbow jersey for a season and many of the sport's biggest names are out to make that a reality today in Richmond, Virginia. 2014 world champion Michal Kwiatkowski leads the Poland team and is aiming to become the first rider since Paolo Bettini to win consecutive titles in 2007 but with no clear pre-race favourites, Cyclingnews has put together a video of the top ten riders to watch.
Peter Sagan (Slovakia), John Degenkolb (Germany) and Alexander Kristoff (Norway) all made the cut but watch the video below to see who the other sever riders are and to subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel, click here.