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200 riders take on a tougher circuit course
A large field will take on the GP Ouest-France on Sunday, a 243km WorldTour race. While it has many similarities to the Spring Classics, it is frequently won by a sprinter, and a number of former winners will be on hand to give it another try.
The course has been changed this year, and the riders will take on nine laps of a 27km course which features three climbs. The climbs aren't the largest to be found, but the many laps of the circuit course will tell on the legs of the riders.
There are 200 riders in the race, as each of the 24 teams sends a squad of eight to the start line. The 18 WorldTour teams are all there, as required, and six Professional Continental teams, three of them French, also received invitations.
Last year's winner Grega Bole (Lampre-ISD) will wear number one and look to win again, having not brought in any victories since winning here last year.
He will face tough competition, though, as former winners Matthew Goss and Simon Gerrans, now teammates at Orica-GreenEdge, will look to do well too. Goss has struggled in his first year as the top sprinter, with only one win, and Gerrans is looking to be back on track with a second in the Clasica San Sebastian after a brilliant start to the season.
If it comes to a sprint, Bole and Goss will have competition from Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), Michael Matthews and Mark Renshaw (Rabobank), Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Nissan) and Gerald Ciolek of Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), who won here in 2009, is not only popular but also always good for a win. Liquigas-Cannondale has the dangerous Peter Sagan at the start. Sky is sending Edvald Boasson Hagen, always dangerous on such a rolling course, while BMC is offering Greg Van Avermaet and Marco Pinotti.