Gerrans victorious in GP Ouest France

Cervélo completes Plouay double; last year's champion second

Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam) took his biggest win of the season to date by comfortably outsprinting the rest of a five-strong breakaway group. The Australian beat last year's winner Pierrick Fedrigo (BBox Bouyges Telecom) into second place, with Paul Martens (Rabobank) in third. The breakaway group was completed by Anthony Roux (Française des Jeux) in fourth and Daniel Martin (Garmin-Slipstream) in fifth, just three seconds ahead of a charging peloton led home by Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne).

The final stages of the race were peppered with attacks and attempted breakaways, but it wasn't until the final five kilometres of the 219.2-kilometre race that pressure from Gerrans pulled a handful of riders clear that any of them really looked like succeeding. The Cervélo rider's acceleration on the long exposed climb - the straightest and widest part of the 19.1-kilometre circuit - pulled Fedrigo and Martens clear of the splintering peloton. Martin, and later Roux, managed to bridge across to make five up front, and between them they managed to hold off the main field, still almost a hundred-strong.

More accustomed to solo victories - and with many of his major results on uphill finishes - Gerrans was under no illusions as to the magnitude of the task in beating a fast rouleur like Fedrigo, who has a Tour de France stage victory to his name this season. The fact that the Frenchman was the defending champion, though, played into the Australian's hands.

"Not really, actually," Gerrans told Cyclingnews on whether he'd expected to win, "but I know the pressure was on Pierrick, so I made him do most of the work in the last kilometre there and that sort of played into my hands a bit."

The Cervélo TestTeam started the day with a number of cards to play, and even the loss of one of its aces in the mid part of the race still left plenty of options, as Gerrans explained. "Thor [Hushovd] wasn't on such a good day and he stopped about halfway through the race, so it was left up to [Xavier] Florencio and myself to try and attack, which we did on the last couple of laps. Also, Ignatas Konovalovas and Dominique Rollin did a fantastic job of controlling the bunch and making sure it was all back together for us."

Despite a lazy start to the race - for all but the early breakaway riders - the speed in the later stages over the undulating and twisting circuit, with parts exposed to the stiff Breton breeze, made the race a very hard one in the end. "Yeah, it was a tough day," Gerrans said. "Lampre did its best to make the race really hard for [World Champion and last year's runner-up, Alessandro] Ballan, I think. There was a lot of attacks. Katusha was riding a really strong tempo and Astana the last two laps, so yeah, it was a tough race."

In taking third place, Martens was happy with what can be seen as the biggest result of his career so far, and for him marks another steady improvement as he builds towards the big target of the year. "Last week I showed at the Tour du Limousin [where he took two 3rd places], I showed that I'm quite a good finisher; and my shape is really good because next week starts the Vuelta and it's the main goal for me," Martens told Cyclingnews.

Rabobank - and particularly Robert Gesink - had been very active in the breaks in the latter stages of the race: a planned tactic that worked well for Martens when the decisive break finally came. "We had the tactics that I was the only one who can wait for the final," he said, "and we know that Robert Gesink can go, and go, and go, he never stops. So I said if you feel good then go, you don't have to wait for me, I will come.

"Then on the last climb I put everything that I had and I went to Simon and to Pierrick and just kept going because I know that if we finish with 50 guys I'm chanceless, but with 10 guys I have a big opportunity; and we saw what happened."

With the peloton fast on the heels of the breakaway riders, Martens had no thoughts of trying to race tactically for fear of getting caught, only to finish nowhere and waste his efforts. "I was riding 100 percent," he said, "because I was the only one who had a chance from our team, so at that moment I just wanted to make the group as small as possible. I didn't race really for the victory because it's a one-day classic and I never did really a [good] finish. If I saw that we were only four guys then I knew 'okay, it's possible to get 3rd', because I know how fast Fedrigo or Simon are.

"Everything is possible, but you have to be realistic and standing on the podium for me is a very big victory."

The early break gains a massive advantage

The long break of the day happened midway through the second 19.1-kilometre lap of 12-lap event as Hector Gonzalez Baeza (Fuji-Servetto) and Angel Mate Mardones (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) escaped. They were quickly pursued by two Frenchmen in the shape of Jerome Pineau (Quick Step) and Laurent Lefevre (BBox Bouyges Telecom) - defending the race that the team has won for two successive years. A sleeping peloton allowed the leading pair to open a colossal gap of 9:33 by the time they crossed the line for the end of the lap.

On the third lap, the four échappeurs joined forces and continued to build their lead, which peaked at over 12 minutes before the combined forces of Cofidis, Astana and Lampre began to work to peg them back. By the end of lap seven, Astana super-domestique Sergio Paulinho in his trademark turquoise glasses - so reminiscent of July's Tour de France - led the peloton across the line just 3:20 behind.

With the Lampre team so keen to provide a rare victory this season for it's World Champion, the breakaway was finally swallowed in the mid part of lap nine. The coming together of the peloton served as a cue for the French teams, especially BBox Bouyges Telecom, Française des Jeux and Cofidis to fire riders up the road, but no one was able to get clear until Matthew Lloyd (Silence-Lotto) and Danny Pate (Garmin-Slipstream) both managed a brief solo effort.

Finally, Ballan showed his hand on lap 10 with less than 50 kilometres to go, but the group of five, that also included Maxim Iglinsky (Astana), Michael Albasini (Columbia-HTC), eventual fourth-placed Roux and Cyril Gautier (BBox Bouyges Telecom) never managed to gain more than approximately 15 seconds on the peloton, now led by Cervélo and Quick Step.

A brief lull with 35 kilometres to go was followed by another attack from Française des Jeux - this time the Tour's best Frenchman Christophe Le Mevel - but once again it was reeled back in after a few kilometres.

2007 winner Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouyges Telecom) then put in an inevitable cameo, which involved him getting a few metres ahead of the peloton during the post-catch lull, before drifting back again.

As the peloton approached the bell, a more likely looking group escaped containing Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto), Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Michele Scarponi (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni), but they too were left dangling a few precious seconds ahead of the bunch, with Liquigas to the fore in favour of sprinter Daniele Bennati. Mid way through the lap they were joined by Voeckler - meaning business this time - but never looked like succeeding, were caught, and the unheard of began to look almost likely: a sprint finish in Plouay!

Gesink attacked once more, inside the final 10 kilometres, and pulled Gerrans, Fedrigo, and Arnaud Gerard (Française des Jeux) with him. On the final exposed drag, with around six kilometres to go, the peloton reeled the group in, but Gerrans refused to be caught and attacked again. Fedrigo managed to go with the Australian along with Martens, and the three were soon joined by Martin. An attack from Anthony Roux saw him join as they rode under the flamme rouge. As the defending champion, the pressure was all on Fedrigo as the group came into the final few hundred metres. Gerrans came around the Frenchman to take victory by a clear bike length.

"I didn't even think of [Emma Pooley's victory yesterday] to tell you the truth," said Gerrans, "but yeah it's been a good weekend for Cervélo."

Full results
1Simon Gerrans (Aus) Cervelo Test Team5:58:53 
2Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom  
3Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank  
4Anthony Roux (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
5Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin - Slipstream  
6Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:00:03 
7Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
8Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana  
9Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
10Jesus Del Nero (Spa) Fuji-Servetto  
11Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Team Columbia - Highroad  
12Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
13Davide Malacarne (Ita) Quick Step  
14William Bonnet (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom  
15Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C.  
16Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
17Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C.  
18Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas  
19Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Silence-Lotto  
20Tom Leezer (Ned) Rabobank  
21Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha  
22Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C.  
23Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli  
24Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervelo Test Team  
25Michael Barry (Can) Team Columbia - Highroad  
26Xavier Florencio (Spa) Cervelo Test Team  
27Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram  
28Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Slipstream  
29David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - N.G.C.  
30Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha  
31René Mandri (Est) AG2R La Mondiale  
32Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
33Cyril Gautier (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom  
34Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne  
35Adam Hansen (Aus) Team Columbia - Highroad  
36Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom  
37Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step  
38Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
39Markel Irizar (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
40Lasse Bochman (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
41Michael Albasini (Swi) Team Columbia - Highroad  
42Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana  
43Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram  
44Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
45Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin - Slipstream  
46Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
47Mathieu Perget (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne  
48Daniel Navarro (Spa) Astana  
49Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Silence-Lotto  
50Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale  
51Luca Solari (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli  
52Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom  
53Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C.  
54Damien Monier (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
55Francesco Reda (Ita) Quick Step  
56Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Fuji-Servetto  
57Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram  
58David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
59Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha  
60Alberto Losada (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
61Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
62Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBox Bouygues Telecom  
63Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
64Anthony Charteau (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne  
65Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
66Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank  
67John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
68Alberto Fernandez (Spa) Fuji-Servetto  
69Vincent Jerome (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom  
70Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank  
71Michele Scarponi (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli  
72Martin Velits (Svk) Team Milram  
73Paolo Bailetti (Ita) Fuji-Servetto0:01:01 
74Iker Camaño Ortuzar (Spa) Fuji-Servetto  
75Ivan Rovny (Rus) Team Katusha  
76Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
77Roman Kireyev (Kaz) Astana  
78Davide Vigano (Ita) Fuji-Servetto  
79Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step0:06:58 
80Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas  
81Nicolas Rousseau (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
82Francesco Ginanni (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli  
83Christophe Brandt (Bel) Silence-Lotto  
84Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Team Katusha  
85Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step  
86Christian Meier (Can) Garmin - Slipstream  
87Michael Christiansen Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
88Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence-Lotto  
89Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Cervelo Test Team  
90Jean-Eudes Demaret (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
91Jorge Azanza (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
92Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Team Katusha  
93Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team Columbia - Highroad  
94Alexander Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale  
95Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank  
96Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Rabobank  
97Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Team Saxo Bank  
98Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas  
99Pavel Brutt (Rus) Team Katusha  
100Kjell Carlström (Fin) Liquigas  
101Timothy Duggan (USA) Garmin - Slipstream  
102Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step  
103Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:14:49 
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