Following the announcement that Swiss WorldTour team IAM Cycling will be closing up shop at the end of the season, the squad has gone from strength to strength with stage wins in all three grand tours and can now add GP Ouest-France Plouay to its list of 2016 victories after a breakaway victory for Oliver Naesen.
"This is by far the biggest win of my career," Naesen said. "This is the first time I have succeeded in winning a World Tour event. That automatically gives such a success a special flavor."
Just minutes after Naesen raised his arms in victories, Dries Devenyns came close to winning a second Vuelta a Espana stage for the squad as he finished second to David de la Cruz at Alto del Naranco.
The 25-year-old Naesen is one of several IAM Cycling riders off to AG2R-La Mondiale from 2017 and has hit his stride in recent months with his first WorldTour win adding to his combativity prize on stage 4 of the Tour de France in July.
In the GP Ouest-France Plouay, Naesen had broken away with Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Drapac), Guillaume Martin (Wanty Groupe-Gobert) and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) with 40km of the race to come. Gougeard lost contact on the final lap of the Plouay circuit with Martin the next to pull up stumps as the sprint teams chased hard behind. Bettiol and Naesen held their nerve inside the final 5km with the Belgian launching the race winning attack.
"When I crossed the line, I realized that this sort of emotion is the reason I train so hard. It's an incredible feeling to have all those sacrifices finally rewarded," he added. "I don't ride my bike to finish 50th. I like to win. Alberto Bettiol was very strong, but I knew I could impose my strength. With one kilometer to go, I felt that the peloton would not catch us. When I launched my sprint, I immediately found myself alone. I could really enjoy my moment."
IAM Cycling sports director Thierry Marichal added that Naesen capped off a day of hark work by the team on a course that was virtually tailor made to his characteristics.
"Oliver has proved again this Sunday that he is an extremely talented rider. I am not going to predict that he will win a classic like Paris-Roubaix one day. But when someone is able to win the Grand Prix de Plouay, a World Tour race, you are bound to have a promising future," said Marichal.
"The race finished as well as we could have hoped. I am completely satisfied."
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