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29th Cholet-Pays De Loire - 1.1
France, March 19, 2006
C.J. Sutton, what a shock!
By Jean-François Quénet in Cholet
A bunch sprint win was expected from Baden Cooke, but a young Australian neo pro took the glory from him in only his third professional race: Chris "C.J." Sutton! He's 21, racing for Cofidis, and surprised everyone today.
One week ago, after beginning his career at the Three Days of West Flanders, Sutton had no clue that his name was on the start list for Cholet-Pays de Loire. He got to know it on Wednesday after the Nokere Koerse. "It's good to be here," a smiling Sutton said on the start line. He was obviously happy to compete against some of the big guns, but he honestly didn't intend to beat them all.
"I started feeling very good with 50 kilometres to go," he explained. "Then it came to a bunch sprint. The last kilometre was really dangerous. I thought I was going to crash but I got through. Unibet was doing a perfect job for Baden Cooke so I went on his wheel and I sprinted down the left. Beating these guys is unbelievable. This is a dream come true. Baden Cooke is one of the best sprinters in the world!"
The new Australian generation seems to be just as flashy as the previous one. It's been a long process for Sutton to be able to show what he's able to do under the colours of Cofidis, though. One year ago, he was promised a contract after becoming the Australian U23 national champion in front of veteran DS Bernard Quilfen from Cofidis. Coming from the New South Wales Institute of Sport and guided by his father Gary, a world champion in the points race in 1980, and sponsored by Française des Jeux and Bradley McGee at the same time as finishing his apprenticeship as a house builder with Brad's elder brother Andrew, "C.J." rode in Italy with the Australian Institute of Sport and won the GP Liberazione in April. He briefly joined Cofidis' feeding team AVC Aix in France, but as no professional contract was becoming concrete, he decided to follow Stuart O'Grady and Matt White to Sony-Ericsson.When that team fell through and after his 5th place at the U23 world championship he was welcomed back to Cofidis. Team manager Éric Boyer doesn't regret his choice now.
Sutton was supposed to begin in Tour of Qatar in January after a training camp in France. But he had to fly back to Australia instead because of missing a working visa. When he finally returned, the 2006 season had started without him; that's why his win in Cholet is something exceptional. Not only did he beat the Belgian sprinters of Chocolade Jacques, who placed Nico Eeckhout in second, and Unibet.com, who had a super lead out man with Frank Vandenbroucke for Jeremy Hunt (10th) and Cooke (5th), but he did it without all the racing the other guys were more fortunate to have in their legs after two months of competition.
Sutton is not a typical sprinter. He's been a junior world champion for team pursuit. He's a hard worker who can go fast. He'll go far.
How it unfolded
After 25 kilometres, the two French specialists of the long life breakaways took off: Éric Leblacher (Française des Jeux) and Stéphane Bergès (Agritubel). As the peloton didn't react for a long time, they reached more than 11 minutes lead. For the first three hours, the speed didn't exceed 37 km/h.
Bouygues Telecom and Crédit Agricole took up the chase. As Leblacher was dropping off Bergès after winning all the king of the mountain sprints, Cédric Vasseur attacked in between the bunch and the man alone away. With 50km to go, the whole Unibet.com team rode hard in front of the pack. Vandenbroucke's effort in the côte des Gardes with 40km was very impressive.
Leblacher got caught before coming back to Cholet with 25km to go. A trio formed of Jérémy Roy (Française des Jeux), Éric Berthou (Caisse d'Épargne-Illes Balears) and Nicolas Vogondy (Crédit Agricole) entered the final circuit with 36 seconds advantage. They never got more. A bunch sprint was inevitable. Chris Sutton came 1st, Nico Eeckhout 2nd and Lilian Jégou 3rd.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Régis Garnier/www.velofotopro.com
Images by Daniel Schamps
1 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Cofidis 2 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 3 Lilian Jegou (Fra) Française Des Jeux 4 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 5 Baden Cooke (Aus) Unibet.Com 6 Erki Pütsep (Est) Ag2R Prevoyance 7 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 8 Igor Abakoumov (Bel) Jartazi-7Mobile 9 Saïd Haddou (Fra) Auber 93 10 Jeremy Hunt (Gbr) Unibet.Com 11 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Credit Agricole 12 Charles Huff Bradley (USA) Team TIAA-CREF 13 Jos Pronk (Ned) Procomm-Van Hemert 14 Martin Pedersen (Den) Team CSC 15 Sven Renders (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 16 Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Auber 93 17 Sébastien Portal (Fra) Credit Agricole 18 Jean-Luc Delpech (Fra) Bretagne-Jean Floc`H 19 René Mandri (Fra) Auber 93 20 Robby Meul (Bel) Jartazi-7Mobile 21 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic 22 Sébastien Joly (Fra) Française Des Jeux 23 Chad Hartley (USA) Team TIAA-CREF 24 Mathieu Criquielion (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 25 Santo Anza (Ita) Selle Italia - Serramenti Diquigiovanni 26 Gregory Habeaux (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 27 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Jartazi-7Mobile 28 Mathieu Perget (Fra) Caisse D`Epargne-Illes B. 29 Iza Leonet Iker (Spa) Caisse D`Epargne-Illes B. 30 Cyrille Monnerais (Fra) Française Des Jeux 31 Sébastien Duret (Fra) Bretagne-Jean Floc`H 32 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Caisse D`Epargne-Illes B. 33 Leonardo Duque (Fra) Cofidis 34 Christophe Laurent (Fra) Agritubel 35 Benoît Poilvet (Fra) Credit Agricole 36 Anthony Charteau (Fra) Credit Agricole 37 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Jartazi-7Mobile 38 Hubert Dupont (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 39 Christophe Agnolutto (Fra) Agritubel 40 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 41 Moises Duenas (Spa) Agritubel 42 Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis 43 Jean Mespoulede (Fra) Auber 93 44 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis 45 Didier Rous (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 46 Nicolas Crosbie (Fra) Agritubel 47 Marcel Beima (Ned) Procomm-Van Hemert 48 Larsen Kasper Klostergaard (Den) Team CSC 49 Julien Mazet (Fra) Auber 93 50 Noan Lelarge (Fra) Bretagne-Jean Floc`H 51 Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis 52 Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Cofidis 53 Cédric Herve (Fra) Bretagne-Jean Floc`H 54 Antoine Dalibard (Fra) Bretagne-Jean Floc`H 55 Camille Bouquet (Fra) Unibet.Com 56 Niklas Axelsson (Swe) Selle Italia - Serramenti Diquigiovanni 57 Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Selle Italia - Serramenti Diquigiovanni 58 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 59 Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française Des Jeux 60 Cédric Coutouly (Fra) Agritubel 61 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 62 Stef Clement (Ned) Bouygues Telecom 63 Frédéric Bessy (Fra) Cofidis 64 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Credit Agricole 65 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 66 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Unibet.Com 67 Frederik Willems (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 68 Stéphane Berges (Fra) Agritubel 69 Cédric Vasseur (Fra) Quick Step - Innergetic 70 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 71 Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 72 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team CSC 73 Eric Leblacher (Fra) Française Des Jeux 74 Alexei Markov (Rus) Caisse D`Epargne-Illes B. 75 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Française Des Jeux 76 John Gadret (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 77 Xabier Zandio (Spa) Caisse D`Epargne-Illes B. 78 Christian Müller (Ger) Team CSC 79 Koen Barbe (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 80 Steven Kleynen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 81 Geert Omloop (Bel) Unibet.Com 82 Jens Renders (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 83 Eric Berthou (Fra) Caisse D`Epargne-Illes B. 84 Leonardo Scarselli (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic 85 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Credit Agricole 86 Boulanger Le (Fra) Yoann Bouygues Telecom 87 Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Elk Haus - Simplon 88 Jarno Van Mingeroet (Bel) Jartazi-7Mobile 89 Ruben Lorca (Spa) 3 Molinos Resort 90 Vytautas Kaupas (Lit) Jartazi-7Mobile 91 Yohan Cauquil (Fra) Jartazi-7Mobile 92 Harald Totschnig (Aut) Elk Haus - Simplon 93 Stefan Rucker (Aut) Elk Haus - Simplon 94 Piotr Zielinski (Pol) Bretagne-Jean Floc`H 95 Mads Kaggestad (Nor) Credit Agricole 96 Florian Morizot (Fra) Auber 93 97 Philippe Schnyder (Swi) Selle Italia - Serramenti Diquigiovanni 98 John Nilsson (Swe) Auber 93 99 Evert Verbist (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 100 Jesus Buendia (Spa) 3 Molinos Resort 101 Julio Garcia (Spa) 3 Molinos Resort 102 Freddy Bichot (Fra) Française Des Jeux 103 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Unibet.Com 104 David Boucher (Fra) Unibet.Com 105 Eloy Teruel (Spa) 3 Molinos Resort 106 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic 107 Addy Engels (Ned) Quick Step - Innergetic 108 Jochen Summer (Aut) Elk Haus - Simplon 109 Maxime Mederel (Fra) Auber 93 110 Carl Naibo (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 111 Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 112 Jean-Paul Simon (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 113 Christophe Kern (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 114 Brian Vandborg (Den) Team CSC 115 Danny Pate (USA) Team TIAA-CREF Women 1 Fanny Riberot (Fra) Team Pro du Genevois 2 Aude Pollet (Fra) Team Pro du Genevois 3 Nathalie Jeuland (Fra) Vienne Futuroscope Courtesy of Cyclismag.com
2005 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bouygues 202 kms in 4.41.17 (43.088 km/h) 2004 Bert De Waele (Bel) 202 kms in 5.09.07 (39.208 km/h) 2003 Christophe Mengin (Fra) FDJeux 202 kms in 4.54.04 (41.215 km/h) 2002 Jimmy Casper (Fra) FJDeux.com 202 kms in 4.55.23 (40.218 km/h) 2001 Florent Brard (Fra) Festina 202 kms in 4.56.59 (40.810 km/h) 2000 Jens Voigt (Ger) 202 kms in 4.52.13 (41.065 km/h) 1999 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Casino 202 kms in 5.03.32 (39.925 km/h) 1998 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Casino 202 kms in 5.09.20 (39.181 km/h) 1997 Jann Kirsipuu (Est) 202 kms in 4.56.25 1996 Stéphan Heulot (Fra) 207 kms in 4.59.43 1995 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) 207 kms in 5.08.45 1994 Laurent Madouas (Fra) 207 kms in 5.26.59 1993 Marc Bouillon (Fra) 209 kms in 5.16.31 1992 Laurent Desbiens (Fra) 205 kms in 5.19.16 1991 Sammie Moreels (Bel) 205 kms in 5.12.03 1990 Kim Andersen (Den) 200 kms in 5.03.59 1989 Frank Boucanville (Fra) 238 kms in 6.24.53 1988 Patrick Onnockx (Bel) 241 kms in 6.33.46 1987 Frédéric Garnier (Fra) 239 kms in 6.23.33 1986 Domenique Lecrocq (Fra) 237 kms in 6.17.44 1985 Marc Madiot (Fra) 236 kms in 6.28.36 1984 Pascal Poisson (Fra) 233 kms in 5.55.10 1983 Eric Dall'Armellina (Fra) 1982 Pierre Bazzo (Fra) 220 kms in 5.24.37 1981 Roger Legeay (Fra) 1980 Roger Legeay (Fra) 1979 Pierre Bazzo (Fra) 1978 Jacques Bossis (Fra) Notes: In 1987 and 1989 it was called GP Cholet-Mauleon From 1990, it took the name of GP Cholet-Pays de Loire Between 1982-86 and 1988 the race was known as Mauleon - Moulins. Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com