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Westra wins Classic Loire Atlantique

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Bretagne-Schuller wanted to impress in west France.

Bretagne-Schuller wanted to impress in west France.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Lieuwe Westra wins it for Vacansoleil-DCM.

Lieuwe Westra wins it for Vacansoleil-DCM.
(Image credit: Fabrice Lambert/sportbreizh.com)
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The bunch early in the race.

The bunch early in the race.
(Image credit: Fabrice Lambert/sportbreizh.com)
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(Image credit: Fabrice Lambert/sportbreizh.com)
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(Image credit: Fabrice Lambert/sportbreizh.com)
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(Image credit: Fabrice Lambert/sportbreizh.com)
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(Image credit: Fabrice Lambert/sportbreizh.com)
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The FdJ boys keep it together.

The FdJ boys keep it together.
(Image credit: Fabrice Lambert/sportbreizh.com)
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Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) with Bert Scheirlinckx (Landbouwkrediet) and Yohan Cauquil (La Pomme Marseille).

Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) with Bert Scheirlinckx (Landbouwkrediet) and Yohan Cauquil (La Pomme Marseille).
(Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
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(Image credit: Fabrice Lambert/sportbreizh.com)
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The attacks came early and often at the Classic Loire Atlantique.

The attacks came early and often at the Classic Loire Atlantique.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Europe Tour leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).

Europe Tour leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Yukira Arashiro (Europcar) before the start.

Yukira Arashiro (Europcar) before the start.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Cyril Bessy (Saur - Sojasun) was a former winner of the Classic Loire Atlantique.

Cyril Bessy (Saur - Sojasun) was a former winner of the Classic Loire Atlantique.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun) rides to the start.

Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun) rides to the start.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun) lined up as defending champion.

Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun) lined up as defending champion.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Lieuwe Westra celebrates his win.

Lieuwe Westra celebrates his win.
(Image credit: Fabrice Lambert/sportbreizh.com)
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Flavien Dassonville (BigMat) was the youngest rider in the race.

Flavien Dassonville (BigMat) was the youngest rider in the race.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Cofidis are aiming to win World Tour status.

Cofidis are aiming to win World Tour status.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Skil-Shimano before the off.

Skil-Shimano before the off.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Luke Roberts (Saxo Bank Sungard) at the start.

Luke Roberts (Saxo Bank Sungard) at the start.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Vacansoleil-DCM ride to the start.

Vacansoleil-DCM ride to the start.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) took the honours at the Classic Loire Atlantique.

Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) took the honours at the Classic Loire Atlantique.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Will Routley (Spidertech) has impressed thus far in 2011.

Will Routley (Spidertech) has impressed thus far in 2011.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Caja Rural send a strong outfit to France.

Caja Rural send a strong outfit to France.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The Roubaix Lille Metropole squad contributed richly.

The Roubaix Lille Metropole squad contributed richly.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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A pensive Mickael Delage (FDJ) before the start.

A pensive Mickael Delage (FDJ) before the start.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) moves to the front of the bunch on the start line.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) moves to the front of the bunch on the start line.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) leads the Europe Tour.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) leads the Europe Tour.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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On the start line at the Classic Loire Atlantique.

On the start line at the Classic Loire Atlantique.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The early escapees were never going to be allowed to stay clear.

The early escapees were never going to be allowed to stay clear.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The pace rocketed upwards in the closing laps.

The pace rocketed upwards in the closing laps.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun) tried to repeat his 2010 success at the Classic Loire Atlantique.

Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun) tried to repeat his 2010 success at the Classic Loire Atlantique.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The bunch worked well to bring back the early break.

The bunch worked well to bring back the early break.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Westra is flanked by Scheirlinckx and Cauquil on the podium.

Westra is flanked by Scheirlinckx and Cauquil on the podium.
(Image credit: Fabrice Lambert/sportbreizh.com)
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Rony Martias (Saur - Sojasun) leads Julien Fouchard (Cofidis).

Rony Martias (Saur - Sojasun) leads Julien Fouchard (Cofidis).
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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FDJ force the pace.

FDJ force the pace.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The circuit was not without its difficulties.

The circuit was not without its difficulties.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Julien Berard (AG2R La Mondiale) and Julien Guay (Roubaix Lille Metropole) at the head of affairs.

Julien Berard (AG2R La Mondiale) and Julien Guay (Roubaix Lille Metropole) at the head of affairs.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Overcast skies at the Classic Loire Atlantique.

Overcast skies at the Classic Loire Atlantique.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Veranda's Willems - Accent driving the break of the day.

Veranda's Willems - Accent driving the break of the day.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) was in unfamiliar colours at the Classic Loire Atlantique.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) was in unfamiliar colours at the Classic Loire Atlantique.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Renaud Dion and Bretagne - Schuller were very active at the Classic Loire Atlantique.

Renaud Dion and Bretagne - Schuller were very active at the Classic Loire Atlantique.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Laurent Mangel (Saur - Sojasun) went on to finish 8th.

Laurent Mangel (Saur - Sojasun) went on to finish 8th.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Serguey Lagutin (Vacansoleil-DCM) was aggressive throughout.

Serguey Lagutin (Vacansoleil-DCM) was aggressive throughout.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Cyril Bessy (Saur-Sojasun) at the Classic Loire Atlantique.

Cyril Bessy (Saur-Sojasun) at the Classic Loire Atlantique.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Guillaume Levarlet (Saur-Sojasun) goes on the attack.

Guillaume Levarlet (Saur-Sojasun) goes on the attack.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Damien Monnier (Cofidis) presses on.

Damien Monnier (Cofidis) presses on.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The testing course broke up the field.

The testing course broke up the field.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Geert Verheyen (Landbouwkrediet) on the attack.

Geert Verheyen (Landbouwkrediet) on the attack.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Oleg Chuzhda (Caja Rural) chases the break.

Oleg Chuzhda (Caja Rural) chases the break.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) in the white jersey of Europe Tour leader.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) in the white jersey of Europe Tour leader.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Nicolas Bazin (BigMat) in the thick of the action.

Nicolas Bazin (BigMat) in the thick of the action.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Europcar set the pace for Thomas Voeckler.

Europcar set the pace for Thomas Voeckler.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Bretagne Schuller were aggressive at the Classic Loire Atlantique.

Bretagne Schuller were aggressive at the Classic Loire Atlantique.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The early escapees at the Classic Loire Atlantique.

The early escapees at the Classic Loire Atlantique.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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The day's early break forges ahead.

The day's early break forges ahead.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) looking composed.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) looking composed.
(Image credit: Fabrice Lambert/sportbreizh.com)
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The Classic Loire Atlantique podium (l-r): Bert Scheirlinckx, Lieuwe Westra and Yohan Cauquil.

The Classic Loire Atlantique podium (l-r): Bert Scheirlinckx, Lieuwe Westra and Yohan Cauquil.
(Image credit: Fabrice Lambert/sportbreizh.com)
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Is Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) allergic to his bouquet?

Is Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) allergic to his bouquet?
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) with the winner's trophy.

Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) with the winner's trophy.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Race winner Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) on the podium.

Race winner Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) on the podium.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) won the Classic Loire Atlantique, the Dutchman's first victory since 2009.

Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) won the Classic Loire Atlantique, the Dutchman's first victory since 2009.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) celebrates his victory.

Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) celebrates his victory.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) wins the Classic Loire Atlantique.

Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) wins the Classic Loire Atlantique.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Classic Loire Atlantique podium (l-r): Bert Scheirlinckx, 2nd; Lieuwe Westra, 1st; Yohan Cauquil, 3rd

Classic Loire Atlantique podium (l-r): Bert Scheirlinckx, 2nd; Lieuwe Westra, 1st; Yohan Cauquil, 3rd
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Yukira Arashiro (Europcar) led tributes to the Japanese earthquake victims.

Yukira Arashiro (Europcar) led tributes to the Japanese earthquake victims.
(Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
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Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) on the podium.

Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) on the podium.
(Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)

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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