Westra wins Classic Loire Atlantique

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
1Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team4:31:45 
2Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:00:02 
3Yohan Cauquil (Fra) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille0:00:09 
4Toms Skujinš (Lat) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille0:00:16 
5Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:00:22 
6Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ  
7Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
8Laurent Mangel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
9Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
10Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar  
11Jean Marc Marino (Fra) Saur - Sojasun0:00:28 
12Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard0:00:36 
13Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
14Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
15Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Skil - Shimano  
16Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:00:40 
17Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 930:00:49 
18Justin Jules (Fra) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille  
19Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
20Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar  
21Luke Roberts (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard  
22Benjamin Giraud (Fra) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille  
23Marcello Pavarin (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
24Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ  
25Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
26Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
27Thierry Hupond (Fra) Skil - Shimano  
28Renaud Dion (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller  
29Arnaud Labbe (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
30Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Caja Rural  
31Rony Martias (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
32Manuele Boaro (Ita) Saxo Bank Sungard  
33Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
34James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
35Romain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
36Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole0:07:05 
37Yukihiro Doi (Jpn) Skil - Shimano0:00:49 
38Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo Bank Sungard  
39Mathieu Halleguen (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller  
40Yannick Talabardon (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
41Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
42Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
43Martijn Keizer (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
44Oleg Chuzhda (Ukr) Caja Rural  
45Will Routley (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10  
46Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
47Arnaud Gerard (Fra) FDJ  
48Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
49Ruben Reig Conejero (Spa) Caja Rural  
50Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
51Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
52Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
53Steve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
54Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
55Mads Christensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard  
56Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
57Steven Tronet (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole  
58Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller  
59Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) Team Spidertech Powered By C10  
60Julien Guay (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole  
61Daniel Diaz (Arg) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille  
62Yann Huguet (Fra) Skil - Shimano  
63Thomas Vaubourzeix (Fra) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille  
64Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille  
65Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
66Cyril Bessy (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
67Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
68Gael Malacarne (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller  
69Bruno Langlois (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10  
70Kevin Lalouette (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole  
71Florian Guillou (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller  
72Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
73Jean-Marc Bideau (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller  
74Loïc Desriac (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole  
75Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Caja Rural0:01:30 
76Marcel Kittel (Ger) Skil - Shimano0:02:03 
77Ruben Martinez (Spa) Caja Rural  
78Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar0:07:05 
79Olivier Bonnaire (Fra) FDJ  
80Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
81Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
82Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar  
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