Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb) took victory at Paris-Tours, beating Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) in a two-up sprint on the Avenue de Grammont after the two emerged as the strongest men on the gravel roads through the vineyards in the race finale.
Pedersen's teammate Joris Nieuwenhuis clinched a 1-3 for the team, outsprinting the chase group 30 seconds later, with Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) taking fourth.
The Dane's victory came after race favourite and former winner Søren Kragh Andersen crashed out of contention just as the hills and gravel sections started with 50km to go. Pedersen managed to stick with Cosnefroy as the Frenchman led a series of reckonings at the front of the race, riding the final 30km together despite a relatively small gap back to the chase group.
Each rider enjoyed the presence of a teammate to disrupt the chase, though. A 25-second gap at the end of the hills and gravel sections would hold to Tours as Nieuwenhuis and Romain Bardet sat on.
Heading into the final kilometre and that famous finish Cosnefroy enjoyed a lead-out from Pedersen but couldn't convert it into a victory. As was the case at La Flèche Wallonne and Brabantse Pijl, it would be another case of so near yet so far for the AG2R La Mondiale man as Pedersen crossed the line with his arms aloft.
"It's a really big result for me. I'm super happy," Pedersen said after the race. "I was dreaming about doing a good result here because I felt like I came out with a really good shape from the Tour.
"We knew that when a strong group goes early on the gravel sections it can be really dangerous. I followed Bardet when he opened up the race and then we got away. [Team leader] Søren Kragh Andersen was in a crash just before that first attack so he wasn't in the front right there.
"I've sprinted against [Cosnefroy] a few times before at under-23 level. Normally he likes the hills more than me and I like the flat more, so normally I have more confidence in the sprint. I was a bit scared of him going away on one of the climbs and I was playing a bit of poker, looking at him like I wasn't suffering."
How it unfolded
The race followed the familiar route since the big change to the final in 2018 – a long, largely flat day from Chartres south to Tours punctuated by the short, sharp climbs and gravel roads of the vineyards east of Tours in the final 50km of the race. Formerly a 'sprinter's classic', these hills have proved decisive in determining the race winner in both 2018 and 2019.
The break of the day established themselves in the early kilometres of the race, with six men making the move. Evaldas Šiškevičius (Nippo Delko One Provence) was joined out front by Elmar Reinders (Riwal Securitas), Sergio Martín (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Petr Rikunov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Emiel Vermeulen (Natura4Ever-Roubaix Lille Métropole) and Mikel Aristi (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
The sextet didn't manage to build a giant gap despite the race's 213km length as AG2R La Mondiale and Team Sunweb were among the teams working at the front of the peloton to limit the gap for their contenders.
3:30 was the most they could manage, kept on a tight leash which only got tighter as the peloton split to three pieces in the crosswinds midway through the day. The situation settled down quickly afterwards, though, with the gap going back up to three minutes before being gradually eroded as the riders neared the decisive hills and dirt roads through the vineyards of the final 50km.
Disaster struck for Sunweb with 50km to go as 2018 winner Søren Kragh Andersen was caught up in a crash in the peloton. He took some time to get going again but ahead, the pace was already high at such a vital point of the race.
Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) set the pace on the Côte de Goquene, the first of seven hills and nine gravel paths in the race final. He was setting up an attack for his teammate, the in-form Cosnefroy who duly led the way at the front as the peloton split to pieces.
The Frenchman formed part of an elite front group after the dust had settled on the early gravel sections, joined in the lead by Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Alexander Krieger (Alpecin-Fenix), Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb).
Up front, the break was fracturing, too, with Vermeulen and Reinders the last men standing before being caught with 35km to run. Cosnefroy would push on again shortly afterwards, shedding all but Pedersen from the head of the race. The duo had 40 seconds on the peloton at the 30km mark, with four – wet – gravel sections and four hills to go.
Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) led the charge behind, leading a group including Bardet, Krieger, Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) and Joris Nieuwenhuis (Team Sunweb) in pursuit of the two leaders. Despite an advantage in numbers, they chasers only managed to shave 15 seconds off the lead, with Cosnefroy and Pedersen 25 seconds to the good after the final climb having stuck together in co-operation.
Flat roads followed, leading to Tours and the famous Avenue de Grammont. The five men behind struggled to make any headway, though – in part due to Bardet and Nieuwenhuis not having to work – and the two leaders reached Tours with enough time to play cat and mouse.
Pedersen led the way into the final kilometre as he and Cosnefroy toyed with each other. The Dane led out the sprint and launched first. Despite his favourable positioning, Cosnefroy just didn't have it in the sprint and had to settle for another podium at a one-day race.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Casper Phillip Pedersen (Den) Team Sunweb||4:51:44|
|2||Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale|
|3||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team Sunweb||0:00:30|
|4||Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|5||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|6||Petr Vakoč (Cze) Alpecin - Fenix|
|7||Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale|
|8||August Jensen (Nor) Riwal Readynez||0:02:11|
|9||Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert|
|10||Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|11||Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Nippo Delko Provence|
|12||Alexander Krieger (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix|
|13||Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|14||Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|15||Milan Menten (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise||0:02:16|
|16||Antonio Angulo Sampedro (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|17||Romain Cardis (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|18||Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic||0:02:18|
|19||Pier Andre Cote (Can) Rally Cycling|
|20||Biniam Girmay Hailu (Eri) Nippo Delko Provence|
|21||Jérémy Leveau (Fra) Natura4Ever - Roubaix - Lille Metropole|
|22||Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale|
|23||Lindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|24||Martijn Budding (Ned) Riwal Readynez|
|25||Wesley Kreder (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert|
|26||Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk|
|27||Anders Skaarseth (Nor) Uno-X Norwegian Development Team|
|28||Stepan Kuriyanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|29||Mathijs Paasschens (Ned) Bingoal WB|
|30||Luc Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal Wb|
|31||Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale|
|32||Romain Combaud (Fra) Nippo Delko Provence|
|33||Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:03:50|
|34||Dusan Rajovic (Srb) Nippo Delko Provence|
|35||Markus Hoelgaard (Nor) Uno-X Norwegian Development Team|
|36||Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|37||Thimo Willems (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|38||Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|39||Emmanuel Morin (Fra) Cofidis|
|40||Quentin Pacher (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept|
|41||Emiel Vermeulen (Bel) Natura4Ever - Roubaix - Lille Metropole|
|42||Tobias Mørch Kongstad (Den) Riwal Readynez|
|43||Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|44||Johan Le Bon (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept|
|45||Lucas Eriksson (Swe) Riwal Readynez|
|46||Mikel Aristi Gardoki (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|47||Diego Lopez Fuentes (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|48||Scott Thwaites (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix|
|49||Pim Ligthart (Ned) Total Direct Energie|
|50||Tom Dernies (Bel) Natura4Ever - Roubaix - Lille Metropole||0:03:55|
|51||Elmar Reinders (Ned) Riwal Readynez||0:04:00|
|52||Alessandro Fedeli (Ita) Nippo Delko Provence||0:04:02|
|53||Aime De Gendt (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert||0:04:03|
|54||Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept||0:06:09|
|55||Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale|
|56||Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling||0:06:28|
|57||Petr Rikunov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|58||Marco Canola (Ita) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|59||Sam Brand (GBr) Team Novo Nordisk||0:07:28|
|60||Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix|
|61||David Gonzalez Lopez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|62||Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept|
|63||Emiel Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|64||Manuel Peñalver Aniorte (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|65||Dzmitry Zhyhunou (Blr) Euskaltel - Euskadi|
|66||Alexander Molenaar (Ned)|
|67||Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|68||Isaac Canton Serrano (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|69||Alexandar Richardson (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix|
|70||Thomas Boudat (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|71||Niklas Märkl (Ger) Development Team Sunweb|
|72||Daniel Hoelgaard (Nor) Uno-X Norwegian Development Team|
|73||Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert|
|74||Mathias De Witte (Bel) Natura4Ever - Roubaix - Lille Metropole|
|75||Maximilien Picoux (Bel) Natura4Ever - Roubaix - Lille Metropole|
|76||Donavan Vincent Grondin (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|77||Florian Maitre (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|78||Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk|
|79||Orluis Alberto Aular Sanabria (Ven) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|80||Péter Kusztor (Hun) Team Novo Nordisk|
|81||Brian Kamstra (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk|
|82||Arvid De Kleijn (Ned) Riwal Readynez|
|83||Kenny De Ketele (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|84||Bram Welten (Ned) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|85||Kim Magnusson (Swe) Riwal Readynez|
|86||Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|87||Paul Ourselin (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|88||Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|89||Torjus Sleen (Nor) Uno-X Norwegian Development Team|
|90||Torstein Træen (Nor) Uno-X Norwegian Development Team|
|91||Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|92||Maxime Chevalier (Fra) B&B Hotels - Vital Concept|
|93||Nicolas Prodhomme (Fra) Cofidis|
|94||Cyril Gautier (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept|
|95||Peio Goikoetxea Goiogana (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|96||Jordan Levasseur (Fra) Natura4Ever - Roubaix - Lille Metropole|
|97||Joel Suter (Swi) Bingoal WB|
|98||Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|99||Flavien Maurelet (Fra) St Michel - Auber 93||0:07:34|
|100||Tony Hurel (Fra) St Michel - Auber 93|
|101||Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb||0:09:25|
|102||Stephen Bassett (USA) Rally Cycling||0:10:10|
|103||Syver Wærsted (Nor) Uno-X Norwegian Development Team||0:10:20|
|104||Sergio Roman Martin Galan (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|105||Julien Trarieux (Fra) Nippo Delko Provence||0:12:04|
|106||Nickolas Zukowsky (Can) Rally Cycling|
|107||Kevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise||0:12:59|
|108||Antoine Raugel (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale||0:13:13|
|109||Samuel Leroux (Fra) Natura4Ever - Roubaix - Lille Metropole||0:15:06|
|110||Victor Lafay (Fra) Cofidis|
|111||Alfdan De Decker (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert|
|112||Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo Nordisk|
|113||Lars Saugstad (Nor) Uno-X Norwegian Development Team||0:15:14|
|114||Adrien Guillonnet (Fra) St Michel - Auber 93||0:16:43|
|115||Leon Heinschke (Ger) Development Team Sunweb||0:18:35|
|116||Matthew Gibson (GBr) Burgos-BH||0:20:32|
|117||Carlos Canal Blanco (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|118||Vladislav Kulikov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|119||Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|120||Jaume Sureda Morey (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|121||Angel Fuentes Paniego (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|122||Oier Lazkano Lopez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|123||Simon Verger (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale|
|124||Louis Louvet (Fra) St Michel - Auber 93|
|OTL||Mehdi Benhamouda (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk|
|DNF||Hector Saez Benito (Spa) Caja Rural - Seguros Rga|
|DNF||Mikel Alonso Flores (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|DNF||Matteo Dal-Cin (Can) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Léo Vincent (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|DNF||Baptiste Constantin (Fra) St Michel - Auber 93|
|DNF||Julen Irizar Laskurain (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|DNF||Baptiste Bleier (Fra) St Michel - Auber 93|
|DNF||Anthony Maldonado (Fra) St Michel - Auber 93|
|DNF||Evgeny Shalunov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|DNF||Imerio Cima (Ita) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|DNF||Kevyn Ista (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|DNF||Julian Mertens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Jeremy Cabot (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Eduard-Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo Delko Provence|
|DNF||Tom Devriendt (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert|
|DNF||Eddy Fine (Fra) Cofidis|
|DNF||Natnael Berhane (Eri) Cofidis|
|DNF||Sacha Modolo (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||William Bonnet (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|DNF||Martin Salmon (Ger) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Adrien Garel (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept|
|DNS||Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert|
Daniel joined Cyclingnews as staff writer in August 2019 after working as a freelance journalist for seven years, including time spent working for Cyclingnews and sister magazine, Procycling.
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