García and Kraak had gone on the chase of solo escapee Sara Martín (Movistar Team) with 35 km to go and were joined by 11 other riders on the finishing circuit around Plouay where they caught Martín.
The group worked well together until the final lap where there were many attacks, several from García herself who was was brought back each time. At 1.5km from the finish, the Spanish champion made her final move with Kraak on her wheel, and Kraak took turns with García to bring their attack to the line where García won the sprint.
Five seconds later, Grace Brown (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope) won the sprint for third place.
"It's my first victory in a WorldTour classic, so I am very happy," said García after her win. "It is now what I expected. I attacked on the last two climbs because I was the best climber in the group but could not get away.
"I thought we would arrive for a sprint, but nothing is lost by trying, so I attacked again. And finally, with one kilometre to go, I got away with the girl from Jumbo. I am not a sprinter, but neither was she, and I won."
How it unfolded
As well as the new name, the parcours had also changed from the previous year. Instead of being held entirely on a circuit around Plouay, the race went on a long 127-kilometre loop through the Breton countryside, visiting the town of Lorient, the centre of the agglomeration that sponsored the race.
The finish brought just under three laps of a 11.7-kilometre circuit that featured the climbs of Rostervel, Le Lozet, and Kerscoulic for a total race distance of 158.4 km.
A breakaway of fifteen riders got established early on. Canyon-SRAM and FDJ SUEZ Futuroscope were the biggest teams to miss out on the break and controlled the gap, only letting it go up to 1:35 minutes with 108 km to go before slowly reeling the break in again.
65 km from the finish, the front group was in sight of the peloton on one of the many short climbs on the course – but as this was very early to bring the break back, the gap went out again. Soon afterwards, Martín attacked from the break and rode solo for a long time. When her former companions were caught with 43 km to go, Martín was still 1:26 minutes ahead.
This was reduced to 34 seconds on the steep climb of Stang Varric, the last climb before reaching the Plouay circuit, and after an abortive attempt by Kraak, García and Kraak got away from the peloton.
Entering the circuit with 31.3 km to go, Kraak and García had been caught by a group of eleven riders including Laura Asencio (Ceratizit-WNT), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo), Brown, Amanda Spratt (Team BikeExchange-Jayco), Élise Chabbey (Canyon-Sram), Blanka Vas (Team SD Worx), Juliette Labous (Team DSM), Sheyla Gutiérrez (Movistar), Ilaria Sanguineti (Valcar-Travel & Service), Gladys Verhulst (Le Col-Wahoo), and Tamara Dronova (Roland Cogeas Edelweiss).
Spratt led the group up the Le Lezot climb, catching Martín with 28 km to go while the teammates of the riders in front stymied any counterattacks in the peloton that quickly lost ground, eventually finishing over three minutes behind. Martín was dropped from the front group on the penultimate lap where the only real action was an acceleration of Brown on Le Lezot.
In the final lap, García strung out the group with her attack on the Rostervel climb with 10 km to go, and only Chabbey, Sanguineti, Kraak, Brown, and Vas could follow her, with Labous bridging after the climb. They held an advantage of up to 15 seconds, but the second group closed the gap 5.7 km from the line, just before the Le Lezot climb began.
Kraak was the first to make a move here, and García countered. Chabbey, Kraak, and Sanguineti were on the Spanish champion's wheel immediately, and eventually Brown, Vas, and Labous came back, as did Verhulst and Dronova.
Chabbey and Brown unsuccessfully tried to get away on the short Kerscoulic climb with 3.5 km to go. García was next to try and got a gap with Kraak on her wheel, but the Dutchwoman would not take turns, and García sat up again.
Labous made an attack in the descent but was closed down by García at the two-kilometre mark. The Spanish champion tried again for one last time, Kraak jumped on her wheel, and the remaining riders could not or would not close the gap. Going into the final kilometre, Kraak took over in the lead, trading turns with García onto the finishing straight to make sure they stayed ahead, and García came past Kraak on the final 100 metres to win.
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Lukas Knöfler started working in cycling communications in 2013 and has seen the inside of the scene from many angles. Having worked as press officer for teams and races and written for several online and print publications, he has been Cyclingnews’ Women’s WorldTour correspondent since 2018.
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