Gerrans victorious in GP Ouest France

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."

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

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