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Westra wins Classic Loire Atlantique

Jean-François Quénet

Dutchman grabs first win of the season

Lieuwe Westra took the honours at the Classic Loire-Atlantique to seal his first win since the 2009 Tour of Picardy, but it came as no surprise to anyone who watched Paris-Nice last week. The Dutchman from Vacansoleil-DCM was very active during the “race to the sun,” where he finished sixth in the stage six time trial. This followed his second place behind Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) at the Tour of Algarve time trial. He has thus begun 2011 as he concluded his 2010 season, when he was a strong third place at the Chrono des Nations behind David Millar and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

For the first time, the ten-year-old Classic Loire-Atlantique was upgraded to 1.1 status. The race was held on a 16.8km circuit to be covered eleven times around La Haye-Fouassière near Nantes in the vineyards of the Muscadet.

“This is a very nice race with no flat section,” Westra said. “I knew I had a good condition after Paris-Nice but it was only after two or three hours of racing here that my legs started to feel good. In the breakaway with the three other guys, I took it very easy.”

With 35 kilometres to go, the decisive breakaway took shape. Anthony Geslin (FDJ), Jean-Marc Marino (Saur-Sojasun) and Frédéric Amorison (Landbouwkrediet) accompanied Westra. Their maximum lead over the bunch was only 55 seconds with 13km to go.

The Europcar team rode hard to close the gap and prepared a counter attack by Thomas Voeckler, who was followed by defending champion Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun). A group of five with Serguey Lagutin (Vacansoleil-DCM), Bert Scheirlinckx (Landbouwkrediet), Julien Antomarchi and Yohan Cauquil (La Pomme-Marseille) and Arnoud Van Groen (Vérandas Willems) bridged the gap with 4km to go. Scheirlinckx attacked in the finale, but Westra caught him with 300 metres to go and went on past him.

“When I reached his back wheel, I stayed there for 100 metres and I thought: this is for me to win, and I gave it all,” Westra told Cyclingnews after the finish. “Voeckler was the strongest but many riders were looking at him, not at me. I’m happier to be here to win than to be at Milan-San Remo with no result.”

Voeckler said he had no regrets about his race. “I tried to win and we did our best for that but I just needed to recover from my brutal efforts when they (Scheirlinckx and Westra) attacked,” the French champion said.

Voeckler and Westra were two of the best riders at Paris-Nice, and Voeckler will be out for revenge on Sunday when the two men line up at the French Cup event Cholet-Pays de Loire.

Full Results
1 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 4:31:45  
2 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:00:02  
3 Yohan Cauquil (Fra) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille 0:00:09  
4 Toms Skujinš (Lat) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille 0:00:16  
5 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:22  
6 Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ    
7 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
8 Laurent Mangel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
9 Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
10 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar    
11 Jean Marc Marino (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:00:28  
12 Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:36  
13 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
14 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
15 Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Skil - Shimano    
16 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:00:40  
17 Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 93 0:00:49  
18 Justin Jules (Fra) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille    
19 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
20 Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar    
21 Luke Roberts (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard    
22 Benjamin Giraud (Fra) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille    
23 Marcello Pavarin (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
24 Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ    
25 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale    
26 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
27 Thierry Hupond (Fra) Skil - Shimano    
28 Renaud Dion (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller    
29 Arnaud Labbe (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
30 Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Caja Rural    
31 Rony Martias (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
32 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Saxo Bank Sungard    
33 Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
34 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
35 Romain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
36 Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 0:07:05  
37 Yukihiro Doi (Jpn) Skil - Shimano 0:00:49  
38 Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo Bank Sungard    
39 Mathieu Halleguen (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller    
40 Yannick Talabardon (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
41 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
42 Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
43 Martijn Keizer (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
44 Oleg Chuzhda (Ukr) Caja Rural    
45 Will Routley (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10    
46 Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
47 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) FDJ    
48 Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
49 Ruben Reig Conejero (Spa) Caja Rural    
50 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
51 Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
52 Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
53 Steve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
54 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
55 Mads Christensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard    
56 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
57 Steven Tronet (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole    
58 Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller    
59 Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) Team Spidertech Powered By C10    
60 Julien Guay (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole    
61 Daniel Diaz (Arg) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille    
62 Yann Huguet (Fra) Skil - Shimano    
63 Thomas Vaubourzeix (Fra) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille    
64 Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille    
65 Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
66 Cyril Bessy (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
67 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
68 Gael Malacarne (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller    
69 Bruno Langlois (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10    
70 Kevin Lalouette (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole    
71 Florian Guillou (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller    
72 Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
73 Jean-Marc Bideau (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller    
74 Loïc Desriac (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole    
75 Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Caja Rural 0:01:30  
76 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Skil - Shimano 0:02:03  
77 Ruben Martinez (Spa) Caja Rural    
78 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar 0:07:05  
79 Olivier Bonnaire (Fra) FDJ    
80 Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
81 Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
82 Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar