At the end of the Classic Loire Atlantique in La Haie-Fouassière near Nantes in the west of France, race winner Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) didn't care that the event was only a newly promoted event in the UCI 1.1 category. "Winning is winning," he said.
Although the 28-year-old Dutchman has shown flashes of form of late, particularly with his sixth place finish in the Paris-Nice time trial stage, he had lost the taste of winning with his last victory coming in stage one of the Tour of Picardy in May 2009. That was the year Westra joined Vacansoleil after spending three seasons with the KrolStonE Continental Team. Westra has since developed as a pro cyclist at the same speed that Vacansoleil advanced to ProTeam status.
"I knew I had a good condition after Paris-Nice," Westra told Cyclingnews in La Haie-Fouassière. "It was better for me to be winning here than at Milan-San Remo for no result."
"It's a pity that I couldn't hold off Westra," said runner-up Staf Scheirlinckx (Landbouwkrediet) who was away alone until the 300 metres to go mark. "But I know that he's one of the best time triallists in the world and I knew how strong he was at Paris-Nice. I'm happy with my condition anyway because it gives me hopes for the coming two weeks that are very important for Landbouwkrediet in Flanders. I should be able to show the jersey at the front."
Scheirlinckx will have other opportunities to go head-to-head with Westra as they share a near identical race programme. "I'll ride Ghent-Wevelgem, the Three Days of De Panne and the Tour of Flanders," Westra said.
The time trial at the Three Days of De Panne will probably inspire him but after winning the Classic Loire Atlantique, he'll put his own ambitions aside. "I'll be there for my leaders Stijn Devolder and Björn Leukemans," he said as he wants Vacansoleil-DCM's days of glory to continue after Thomas De Gendt's campaign with the yellow jersey at Paris-Nice.