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18th Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan - 1.1
France, May 31, 2008
Voeckler is back where it all started
By Jean-François Quénet in Plumelec
Just like in 2004, a few weeks before becoming French champion and holding the yellow jersey for ten days in the Tour de France, Thomas Voeckler has won the Grand Prix of Plumelec in the exact same place where stage one of the Grand Boucle will finish this July. In succeeding 2007 winner Simon Gerrans, Voeckler outsprinted his only breakaway companion Cyril Gautier, a very promising rider from the local Bretagne-Armor Lux outfit.
"On the final climb, the public called me a 'suceur de roues' (wheel sucker) but the people know that I'm not like that, I understand they wanted to see a young Breton rider winning in Brittany," Voeckler said. "I like Gautier's fighting spirit. At his age, I wasn't able to do what he does now."
The 20 year-old Gautier has amazed the home crowd once again. After breaking his collarbone during the Tour of the Mediterranean in April, he was only able to resume racing at the Trophée des Grimpeurs where he claimed a top-10 finish one month ago. "I never thought I'd be able to race like this at this level today," Gautier explained. "I fought as much as I could. I've had a lot of emotions in front of this crowd. But I never thought I could beat Thomas. He was the strongest. He was more confident than me as well."
The partnership with Gautier gave Voeckler the belief that their attack, launched with 30km to go, could be a successful one. "He was the ideal companion," the Bouygues Telecom captain said. "I attacked him with 15km to go but I didn't want to drop him off. I just had the impression that he wasn't giving 100 percent."
Voeckler's victory was his second of the year after the Circuit de la Sarthe in April. "I hope that winning here is a good sign for the Tour de France as much as it was back in 2004," he added. He's one of the 189 starters of the Tour who will target the yellow jersey in Plumelec in five weeks' time, and is one of the few who know the secrets of this legendary cycling area.
How it unfolded
During the first part of race, a 53 km loop around Plumelec, a group went away but Bretagne-Armor Lux brought it back since they had only one man in the front: Cyril Gautier. On the circuit of Plumelec, with ten laps (110km) to go, two Estonians tried to reproduce their domination in amateur cycling like last year: Rein Taraamae (Cofidis) and Tanel Kangert (Ag2r) together with Mathieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom).
They had a maximum advantage of 1'25 over a group of 26 counter attackers. A strong chase was launched with six laps to go by Benjamin Gourgues (Landbouwkrediet), Noan Lelarge (Bretagne-Armor Lux), Carl Naibo (Apiflo) and Jérémy Galland (Auber 93). The leading trio got caught with 4 laps to go - the last five laps were shorter at 7.7 km each. That's when Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) and Gautier took off with 30km to go.
Eleven riders tried to bring them back: Dimitri Fofonov and Rémi Pauriol (Crédit Agricole), Cyrille Monnerais (Française des Jeux), Cédric Coutouly and Eduardo Gonzalo (Agritubel), Nico Sijmens (Landbouwkrediet), Arnold Jeannesson (Auber 93), Amaël Moinard (Cofidis), Lelarge, Sprick and Kangert. Three more made the junction: Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), Nicolas Jalabert (Agritubel) and Gianni Meersmann (Française des Jeux).
Despite the gap being under a minute (42 seconds with two laps to go), the 14 chasers never made it. Voeckler attacked Gautier with 15km to go, but the two remained together. He let the young Breton lead out the sprint on the hill of Cadoudal, but accelerated for the win with less than 100 metres remaining. Meersmann was the fastest for third place while David Le Lay (Bretagne-Armor Lux) maintained his lead in the French cup standings.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Fabrice Lambert
Images by Jean-François Quénet
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 2 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Bretagne Armor Lux 3 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Française Des Jeux 4 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 5 Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 6 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Agritubel 7 Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Credit Agricole 8 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) Auber 93 9 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tonissteiner 10 Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 11 Noan Lelarge (Fra) Bretagne Armor Lux 12 Cyrille Monnerais (Fra) Française Des Jeux 13 Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (Spa) Agritubel 14 Cedric Coutouly (Fra) Agritubel 15 Tanel Kangert (Est) Ag2R La Mondiale 16 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Credit Agricole 17 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des Jeux 18 Niels Brouzes (Fra) Auber 93 19 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tonissteiner 20 Kevin Ista (Bel) Agritubel 21 Rémi Cusin (Fra) Vc Lyon Vaulx En Velin (69) 22 Yoann Offredo (Fra) Française Des Jeux 23 Florian Guillou (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 24 Gregory Habeaux (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi 25 Sébastien Duret (Fra) Bretagne Armor Lux 26 Pierre Cazaux (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 27 Jean-Marie Bideau (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 28 Kalle Kriit (Est) Mitsubishi-Jartazi 29 Renaud Dion (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale 30 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Credit Agricole 31 David Lelay (Fra) Bretagne Armor Lux 32 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française Des Jeux 33 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Credit Agricole 34 Mathieu Claude (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 35 Jean Mespoulede (Fra) Auber 93 36 Yann Pivois (Fra) Bretagne Armor Lux 37 Yann Guyot (Fra) Equipe De France 38 Denis Robin (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 39 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 40 Steve Chainel (Fra) Auber 93 41 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 42 Marcel Wyss (Swi) Atlas-Romer`S Hausbäckerei 43 Jean-Charles Senac (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale 44 Carl Naibo (Fra) Differdange Apiflo Vacances 45 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 46 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Ag2R La Mondiale 47 Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Landbouwkrediet - Tonissteiner 48 Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 49 Benjamin Gourgue (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tonissteiner 50 Thomas Bodo (Fra) Differdange Apiflo Vacances 51 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tonissteiner 52 Gael Malacarne (Fra) Equipe De France 53 Maryan Hary (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 54 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française Des Jeux 55 Julien Loubet (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale 56 Julien Antomarchi (Fra) Equipe De France 57 Mickaël Larpe (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 58 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Française Des Jeux 59 Martin Lang (Ger) Atlas-Romer`S Hausbäckerei 60 Jerome Mainard (Fra) Equipe De France
A Travers de Morbihan, a UCI Cat 1.4 event began in 1990. It was previously known as the G.P. de Plumelec (1982-89). 2007 Simon Gerrans (Aus) AG2r Prévoyance 174 kms in 4.02.53 2006 Cédric Hervé (Fra) Bretagne-Jean Floc'h 2005 No race 2004 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Brioches la Boulangère 181 kms in 4.23.16 2003 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) FDJeux.com 181 kms in 4.27.26 2002 Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Jean Delatour 2001 Gilles Maignan (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 184 kms in 4.39.26 2000 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Jean Delatour 181 kms in 4.31.01 1999 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Festina 200 kms in 4.50.00 1998 Laurent Desbiens (Fra) Cofidis 205 kms in 5.10.26 1997 Christophe Agnolutto (Fra) Casino 200 kms in 4.46.37 1996 Johan Capiot (Fra) Collstrop Lystex 210 kms in 4.49.26 1995 Francis Moreau (Fra) GAN 205 kms in 4.41.42 1994 Peter De Clercq (Bel) Lotto 199 kms in 4.38.01 1993 Marcel Wüst (Ger) Novemail Histor 190 kms in 4.24.00 1992 Peter De Clercq (Bel) Lotto 200 kms in 4.56.25 1991 Bruno Cornillet (Fra) Z Peugeot 208 kms in 5.46.00 1990 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Lotto 223 kms in 5.33.57 1989 no event 1988 Frédéric Brun (Fra) Z Peugeot 1987 Johnny Weltz (Den) Fagor 1986 Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle (Fra) Peugeot 1985 Marc Madiot (Fra) Renault Elf Gitane 1984 Pierre Bazzo (Fra) Coop Hoonved 1983 Laurent Fignon (Fra) Renault Gitane 1982 Fabien De Vooght (Fra) Wolber Past winners courtesy of Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com