Cofidis uphill sprinter takes the lead of the French Cup
Frenchman Julien Simon put an end to a one half year drought as he won the GP Plumelec in a formidable one-two for Cofidis with the "Andalucian lynx," aka Luis Maté from Spain, closing in second position. The local team Bretagne-Séché Environnement completed the podium with Armindo Fonseca third.
"First and second, that doesn't often happen in a career, so it has a special savor," said Simon, who hasn't won a race since he moved from the now defunct Sojasun team to Cofidis. "It's truly a team win as we were all seven Cofidis riders together in line in the last kilometer. The eighth one was Yoann Bagot who had been in the breakaway earlier."
Bagot was one of the ten men who rode away early, accompanied by Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (FDJ.fr), Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), Vegard Stake Laengen (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Julien Duval and Rudy Kowalski (Roubaix Lille Métropole), Yoann Paillot (La Pomme-Marseille 13), Gediminas Kaupas (CC Differdange) and Olivier Chevallier (Wallonie-Bruxelles). BigMat-Auber 93 being the only French team missing at the front, they were busy keeping the gap under two minutes until FDJ.fr finished the business prior to Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) testing his legs with a strong acceleration with one lap (7.5km) to go.
French cup leader Bryan Coquard (Europcar) struggled at that point. "He wasn't going very well and I wasn't either," Voeckler told Cyclingnews on the finishing line. "But it's better for him not to be at the peak of his form on May 31st and start his first Tour de France in July with 100 per cent of his capacities. Anyway, Cofidis deserves the win today. They were really well organized all together in the finale."
The GP Plumelec is a legendary uphill finish that has already hosted the French championship three times – with Roland Berland and Bernard Thévenet winning in the 70s as well as Didier Rous in 2002 – and the prologue of the 1986 Tour de France. "At the bottom of the final climb, my colleagues rode flat out," Simon explained. "With 500 metres to go, it was only us at the front. I was still scared of Armindo (Fonseca) but I managed to ride him off. I've had a lot of doubts lately, and I suffered bronchitis this week, so I wasn't sure to be competitive today, especially after four weeks off but we've done a good job in the mountains and during the race I realized that I wasn't the worst rider around."
As the new leader of the French Cup that has another leg – the eleventh one – twenty four hours after Plumelec with the Boucles de l'Aulne, still in Brittany, Simon noted: "I don't want to think of the French cup now. Above all, I'm extremely happy to be a winner again."
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