By Jean-François Quénet in Dour, Belgium
The Belgian race Le Samyn is regularly won by French riders. Renaud Dion and Jimmy Casper preceded defending champion Philippe Gilbert on the record book. On Wednesday, Agritubel's neo pro Rémi Cusin was not fast enough to outsprint Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step) for the win, but he still finished second and collected his first result as a professional after being named the best climber of the Etoile de Bessèges last month. Cusin showed he is on the fast track to being the next new name to be remembered in French cycling.
"I was the one to attack on a climb with 70km to go," said Cusin. "I rode for 15km by myself before the eight other breakaway riders joined me. This was a pretty good feeling.
"I like the climbs. I tried to break clear with 2km to go but it might have been too early. My personal coach and agent Michel Gros and I decided to try and create a good start to the year by making my place in the pro ranks."
Gros, a former directeur sportif with Festina and Jean Delatour, coached Cusin within his club, Vaulx-en-Velin, near Lyon. "Last year Rémi rode seriously for the first time after he completed his studies," said Gros.
"With the French amateur team and our club team, he had 40 days of racing in UCI category 2 events in 2008. That's why I knew he was ready for being a pro. He rides with the pros with the same mentality as with the amateurs. He's not afraid at all. I think he'll go far."
The 23-year-old Cusin hails from Haute-Savoie in the north of the Alps. He hopes that his ride at Le Samyn is convincing enough for Agritubel to line him up at Cholet-Pays de Loire and the Critérium International.