In the sixth round in the season-long Coupe de France (open only to French riders) victory again eluded the French. The next round of the Coupe de France, which is now led by Christophe Mengin (Chazal), will be the Tour de Vendee on Sunday.
The race was run off icy rain and paid off for Andrei Tchmil, breaking his run this season of high placings but no wins. The red and black of Lotto were prominent from the start and when the race hit the first of the two severe climbs towards the end, the Moulin-Neuf (18%), Tchmil put on the pressure. Only one rider, Cedric Vasseur (France, Gan), was able to stay with him. Fearing that he might have to contest another sprint and come second yet again (he's quoted on this), Tchmil attacked on the Champeaux climb (17%) 8km from the finish. Tchmil sang the praises of his team-mates, giving a special mention to Sammie Moreels, who was alone in the lead until 20km from the finish, when he crashed.
The race was the first ridden in France this season by world champion Luc Leblanc. Held up by a fall (which had no serious consequences) at kilometre 86, Leblanc retired rather than, he said, "chasing without effect to the finish".
Race Distance: 200 kms
1. Tchmil (Lotto) 5:43:22 2. Brochard (Festina) + 20 secs. 3. Van Haecke (Collstrop) 4. Mengin (Chazal) 5. Marie (Castorama) 6. Vasseur (Gan) 7. Herve (Festina) 8. Goubert (Festina) s.t. 9. Bouvard (Chazal) + 27 10. Cornillet (Chazal) + 29 11. De Clercq (Lotto) + 37 12. Leroscouet (Aubervilliers) 13. Jolidon (Univag) 14. Van Bondt (Asfra) 15. Gouvenou (Gan) 16. O'Grady (Gan) 17. Auger (Aubervilliers) 18. Van Hyfte (Lotto) 19. Verdonck (Lotto) 20. Madouas (Castorama) s.t. 49 finishers -- 14 teams started