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Dion opens the Breton campaign

Renaud Dion of the newly promoted Pro Continental team Bretagne-Schuller won the first pro race of the year held in Brittany, the home soil of the team he joined after spending one year with Roubaix-Lille Métropole. The 33-year-old Frenchman attacked his six breakaway companions in the closing kilometres and held off the pursuit of FDJ's Gianni Meersman, who finished second, and Nicolas Vogondy from Cofidis who was third.

"This win gives me great pleasure," were Dion's first words after crossing the line. "My experience made the difference when it came to the last lap. I knew it would have been a mistake to wait for the sprint."

Bretagne-Schuller's directeur sportif Emmanuel Hubert had warned him that the man to watch was French time trial champion Vogondy but he also had to be careful of Meersman who likes the kind of slightly uphill finale of the circuit in front of the castle of Vitré. Former Caisse d'Epargne rider Mathieu Drujon, now with BigMat-Auber 93, was probably the fastest of the front group but he opted to attack before Dion who found the right timing with 2km to go.

Drujon was already a member of the previous breakaway group with Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne-Schuller), Lloyd Mondory (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Guillaume Levarlet (Saur-Sojasun), Damien Monier (Cofidis), Javier Megias (Team Type 1), Cédric Pineau (FDJ) and Giovanni Bernaudeau (Europcar).

With four laps and one hour of racing to go, a new front group was formed by Vogondy, Meersman, Drujon, Dion, Steven Tronet (Roubaix-Lille-Métropole), Jean-Marc Marino, Levarlet and Fabrice Jeandesbosz (Saur-Sojasun). As their respective teams Europcar and Team Type 1 had missed the move, two riders tried to bridge the gap, but Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and Alexander Efimkin (Team Type 1) stayed 20 seconds behind before getting caught with 5km to go.

Dion's win came as a relief for Bretagne-Schuller. The Pro Continental team from Brittany had encountered very competitive cycling at Paris-Nice. Some observers wondered if they really had the required level for a World Tour event. "Our team didn't have a super start of the season," Dion said. "But we also wanted to prove the critics wrong. I went out of Paris-Nice in a pretty good shape, then I went to Corsica with my family before the Criterium International where I escaped twice. From the end of March till the end of May, it's usually my time of being in form and it coincides with the races in Brittany. But I was scared to come second once again."

Last year Dion was second at the Tour de Bretagne, the Classic Loire-Atlantique, Plumelec and the Tro Bro Leon. Previously he won Le Samyn with Ag2r-La Mondiale. "It was a similar race as today," he said. "I had to escape from the front group because of the presence of fast finishers like Philippe Gilbert and Matti Breschel. I've had some difficulties to find a team after Ag2r, but the Breton project is very appealing. This is a good start."

The "Bretagne" region is historically the hot bed of French cycling and the home of former greats Jean Robic, Louison Bobet and Bernard Hinault. Local authorities have the ambition to revive the cycling culture with giving a regional identity to a team like Euskaltel has done in the Basque country. They envisage to ride the Tour de France in 2012 after getting a taste of it at Paris-Nice.

Full Results
1Renaud Dion (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller4:47:15
2Gianni Meersman (Bel) FDJ
3Steven Tronet (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole0:00:03
4Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne0:00:05
5Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Saur - Sojasun
6Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 93
7Jean Marc Marino (Fra) Saur - Sojasun0:00:22
8Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team0:01:12
9Laurent Pichon (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller
10Tony Gallopin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
11Arnaud Molmy (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 93
12Jean-Luc Delpech (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller
13Laurent Beuret (Swi) Atlas Personal
14Fabricio Ferrari (Uru) Caja Rural
15Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia Es Pasion - Cafe De Colombia
16Toms Skujinš (Lat) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille
17Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller
18Laszlo Bodrogi (Fra) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis
19Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Colombia Es Pasion - Cafe De Colombia
20Marc Goos (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team
21Yohan Cauquil (Fra) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille
22Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Saur - Sojasun
23Juan Villegas (Col) Colombia Es Pasion - Cafe De Colombia
24Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
25Julien Guay (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole
26Bruno Langlois (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10
27Ruben Martinez (Spa) Caja Rural
28Daan Olivier (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team
29Guillaume Pont (Fra) SP Tableware
30Florian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller
31Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Saur - Sojasun
32Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole
33Alexander Efimkin (Rus) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis
34Mickaël Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
35Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
36Peter Kusztor (Hun) Atlas Personal
37Arnaud Gerard (Fra) FDJ
38Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
39Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ
40Maxime Mederel (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 93
41Johan Mombaerts (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 93
42Romain Hardy (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller
43Ruben Reig Conejero (Spa) Caja Rural
44Jean-Marc Bideau (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller
45Julien Loubet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
46Sébastien Duret (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller
47Jahir Perez (Col) Colombia Es Pasion - Cafe De Colombia
48Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ
49Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 93
50Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Col) Colombia Es Pasion - Cafe De Colombia0:01:24
51Javier Megias Leal (Spa) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis
52Will Routley (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10
53Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar0:01:30
54Julien Antomarchi (Fra) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille0:01:34
55Cyril Bessy (Fra) Saur - Sojasun
56Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun
57Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Team Europcar0:01:36
58Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur - Sojasun
59Jonas Ljungblad (Swe) Team Differdange - Magic-Sportfood.de0:01:41
60Mark O'Brien (Aus) SP Tableware0:01:50
61Francois Parisien (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C100:04:39
62Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
63Damien Monier (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
64Florian Salzinger (Ger) Atlas Personal
65Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ0:06:20
66Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ
67Oleg Chuzhda (Ukr) Caja Rural0:07:03
68Lucas Euser (USA) Team Spidertech Powered By C10
69Frank Dressler-Lehnhof (Ger) Team Differdange -
70Christoph Springer (Ger) SP Tableware
71Fabio Calabria (Aus) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis
72Florian Le Corre (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole
73Georgios Karatzios (Gre) SP Tableware0:07:06
74Christophe Kern (Fra) Team Europcar
75Alexander Riabkin (Rus) Caja Rural0:07:10
76Sébastien Joly (Fra) Saur - Sojasun0:07:12
77Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille0:11:28
78Pirmin Lang (Swi) Atlas Personal

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