Julien Simon (Saur-Sojasun) responded to the disappointment of missing out on selection for the French team for the world championships by claiming a fine hilltop victory at the Grand Prix de Wallonie in Namur on Wednesday.
In spite of a campaign that has seen him claim four wins, including two stage victories at the Volta a Catalunya, Simon was overlooked by French coach Laurent Jalabert, who has built his team around Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
“I wasn’t picked by Laurent Jalabert on the Worlds team and that was hard to digest,” Simon told RTBF. “This was my answer.”
Second to Philippe Gilbert at the Grand Prix Wallonie twelve months ago, Simon timed his effort to perfection on the testing uphill finish at the citadel in Namur to take the win after his Saur-Sojasun team had worked in the finale to bring the peloton back together.
“After my second place last year, I really wanted to win this race, it’s a race that makes me dream,” Simon said. “I was a bit worried when I got caught out in the echelons but the team did great work and they didn’t ride for nothing.”
On the deceptive final haul to the finish line, Simon bided his time until the final 200 metres, when he emerged from behind Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) to claim the win.
“I knew the finish by heart,” he said. “I was well-placed and I knew where it was all going to kick off. When the move went in front of me, I followed and I felt like I still had some energy. When we got to the key point I had identified, I gave it my all without thinking about it, and on the last bend, I could see I was right. I won ahead of some good riders, but it was a team victory.”