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.
|1||Renaud Dion (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller||4:47:15|
|2||Gianni Meersman (Bel) FDJ|
|3||Steven Tronet (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole||0:00:03|
|4||Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne||0:00:05|
|5||Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Saur - Sojasun|
|6||Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 93|
|7||Jean Marc Marino (Fra) Saur - Sojasun||0:00:22|
|8||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team||0:01:12|
|9||Laurent Pichon (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller|
|10||Tony Gallopin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne|
|11||Arnaud Molmy (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 93|
|12||Jean-Luc Delpech (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller|
|13||Laurent Beuret (Swi) Atlas Personal|
|14||Fabricio Ferrari (Uru) Caja Rural|
|15||Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia Es Pasion - Cafe De Colombia|
|16||Toms Skujinš (Lat) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille|
|17||Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller|
|18||Laszlo Bodrogi (Fra) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis|
|19||Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Colombia Es Pasion - Cafe De Colombia|
|20||Marc Goos (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team|
|21||Yohan Cauquil (Fra) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille|
|22||Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Saur - Sojasun|
|23||Juan Villegas (Col) Colombia Es Pasion - Cafe De Colombia|
|24||Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|25||Julien Guay (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole|
|26||Bruno Langlois (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10|
|27||Ruben Martinez (Spa) Caja Rural|
|28||Daan Olivier (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team|
|29||Guillaume Pont (Fra) SP Tableware|
|30||Florian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller|
|31||Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Saur - Sojasun|
|32||Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole|
|33||Alexander Efimkin (Rus) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis|
|34||Mickaël Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne|
|35||Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne|
|36||Peter Kusztor (Hun) Atlas Personal|
|37||Arnaud Gerard (Fra) FDJ|
|38||Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|39||Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ|
|40||Maxime Mederel (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 93|
|41||Johan Mombaerts (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 93|
|42||Romain Hardy (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller|
|43||Ruben Reig Conejero (Spa) Caja Rural|
|44||Jean-Marc Bideau (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller|
|45||Julien Loubet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|46||Sébastien Duret (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller|
|47||Jahir Perez (Col) Colombia Es Pasion - Cafe De Colombia|
|48||Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ|
|49||Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 93|
|50||Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Col) Colombia Es Pasion - Cafe De Colombia||0:01:24|
|51||Javier Megias Leal (Spa) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis|
|52||Will Routley (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10|
|53||Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar||0:01:30|
|54||Julien Antomarchi (Fra) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille||0:01:34|
|55||Cyril Bessy (Fra) Saur - Sojasun|
|56||Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun|
|57||Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Team Europcar||0:01:36|
|58||Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur - Sojasun|
|59||Jonas Ljungblad (Swe) Team Differdange - Magic-Sportfood.de||0:01:41|
|60||Mark O'Brien (Aus) SP Tableware||0:01:50|
|61||Francois Parisien (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10||0:04:39|
|62||Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|63||Damien Monier (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne|
|64||Florian Salzinger (Ger) Atlas Personal|
|65||Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ||0:06:20|
|66||Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ|
|67||Oleg Chuzhda (Ukr) Caja Rural||0:07:03|
|68||Lucas Euser (USA) Team Spidertech Powered By C10|
|69||Frank Dressler-Lehnhof (Ger) Team Differdange - Magic-Sportfood.de|
|70||Christoph Springer (Ger) SP Tableware|
|71||Fabio Calabria (Aus) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis|
|72||Florian Le Corre (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole|
|73||Georgios Karatzios (Gre) SP Tableware||0:07:06|
|74||Christophe Kern (Fra) Team Europcar|
|75||Alexander Riabkin (Rus) Caja Rural||0:07:10|
|76||Sébastien Joly (Fra) Saur - Sojasun||0:07:12|
|77||Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille||0:11:28|
|78||Pirmin Lang (Swi) Atlas Personal|
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