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37th Tour de Vendée - 1.1
France, October 5, 2008
Chavanel's hunger flat allows Fernandez to sign Basque hat trick
By Jean-François Quénet in La Roche-sur-Yon
Euskaltel's Koldo Fernandez became the third Basque rider to claim the title in the Tour de Vendée. Fernandez won against the odds, with the French riders hungry for a success at home. But favourite Sylvain Chavanel fell victim of a hunger knock and Bouygues Telceom's Jérôme Pineau was not up for the challenge.
Previous Basque winners were Mikel Gaztañaga, who won the Tour de Vendée twice in a row (in 2006 with ATOM and 2007 with Agritubel) and Alberto Leanizbarrutia. Leanizbarrutia won twenty years, riding for TEKA back in 1988.
The race usually happens in May, but was rescheduled for the end of the season. That proved to be an interesting move with the participation of the two strongest Spanish teams, Euskaltel and Caisse d'Epragne, in addition to the French ones.
Since the 1-2 of Franck Bouyer and Walter Bénéteau in 2002 under the colours of Bonjour, local team Bouygues Telecom has never managed to score on home soil. They thought they had done most of the work by isolating Jérôme Pineau in the front of the race together with Sylvain Chavanel, another former pupil of Jean-René Bernaudeau. Pineau and Chavanel will both ride for Quick Step next year.
Pineau, the leader of the French cup, was hungry to win before saying goodbye to Bouygues as he is known for someone who talks a lot but win very little – the last time it was at Paris-Bourges in 2004. With riders from continental teams Tony Gallopin (Auber 93), Florian Guillou (Roubaix-Lille-Métropole) and Cyril Gautier (Bretagne-Armor Lux) who will join Bouygues Telecom next year, Chavanel and Pineau created a significant gap. But as happens many times, the Tour de Vendée ended up with a thrilling finale and one more bunch sprint.
"As I felt hunger flat at the end, I knew I had lost," Chavanel explained. "But I really enjoyed the ride today. I like racing under the rain. Now I'll do Paris-Bourges and I'll go on holidays." The winner of stage 19 in the Tour de France deserves a nice break after a long and successful season.
Fernandez is also somebody used to winning. It was a 5th for him this year after stage wins at Tour of Murcia, Vuelta Castillon y Leon, Euskal Bicicletta and Tour of Burgos. "I came out of the Vuelta in good shape," he said. "This was my first time at the Tour de Vendée, but it was a very hard race. I didn't hope to win until the very end because I was convinced that Chavanel would stay away, but with one kilometre to go, I realized there was a possibility to win and I conducted my sprint as I wanted."
Pineau's consolation price was to keep the lead of the French cup until the last race on Thursday which is Paris-Bourges.
How it unfolded
Many attacks went from the gun under the rainy west of France, and helped the bunch cover 47.6 kilometers during the first hour. Local boy Thomas Voeckler was among the most active riders, but he missed out on the 20 men breakaway created after Le Puy-du-Fou at km 80 because he was busy getting a wheel change at that time. There were still 95km to go when five of these twenty riders broke clear: Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), Tony Gallopin (Auber 93), Florian Guillou (Roubaix Lille Métropole) and Cyril Gautier (Bretagne-Armor Lux).
As none of the Française des Jeux representatives managed to follow them, they took care of the chase but the gap went from 2:20 with 80km to go to a maximum of four minutes. As the four leaf clover boys accelerated, the difference went down again to two minutes. Euskaltel, Caisse d'Épargne and an impressive David Chopin who is a 20-year-old trainee with Crédit Agricole brought the front part of the bunch to one minute.
Hearing that, Chavanel decided it was time to go away solo with less than 20 kilometers remaining until the end of the last lap in La Roche-sur-Yon. The Frenchman looked to have won the race when he crossed the line with 4.5km to go, but with Pineau being caught by the bunch together with Gallopin, Bouygues Telecom rode hard behind the lone leader. Chavanel was empty. His adventure ended with 800 meters to go.
In the hilly finish, Hakan Nilsson (Differdange) tried his luck, followed by Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis). Anthony Geslin (Bouygues Telecom) was prompt to react and that has probably cost him the win as Koldo Fernandez (Euskaltel) was on his wheel and passed him easily before the line.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Jean-François Quénet/Cyclingnews.com
1 Koldo Fernandez De Larrea (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 5.09.50 (39.892 km/h) 2 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen 3 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 4 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 5 Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne 6 Florian Vachon (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 7 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française des Jeux 8 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Crédit Agricole 9 Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Française des Jeux 10 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Crédit Agricole 11 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 12 Sven Renders (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen 13 Frederick Nolf (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen 14 Stéphane Bonsergent (Fra) Bretagne - Armor Lux 15 Mickaël Chérel (Fra) Française des Jeux 16 Jarno Van Mingeroet (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi 17 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 18 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel 19 Gael Malacarne (Fra) Bretagne - Armor Lux 20 Paul Brousse (Fra) A-Style Somn 21 David Lelay (Fra) Bretagne - Armor Lux 22 Cédric Coutouly (Fra) Agritubel 23 Yann Huguet (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 24 Jean-Luc Delpech (Fra) Bretagne - Armor Lux 25 Jean Mespoulède (Fra) Auber 93 26 Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 27 Hakan Nilsson (Swe) Differdange - Apiflo Vacances 28 Julien Simon (Fra) Crédit Agricole 29 Alexandre Lemair (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 30 Tanel Kangert (Est) AG2R La Mondiale 31 Yohann Gène (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 32 Jean-Marc Bideau (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 33 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Agritubel 34 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne 35 Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 36 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 37 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 38 Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 39 Serge Pauwels (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen 40 David Chopin (Fra) Credit Agricole 41 Piotr Zielinski (Pol) Bretagne - Armor Lux 42 Olivier Bonnaire (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 43 Fabien Patanchon (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne 44 Marlon Alirio Perez Arango (Col) Caisse d'Epargne 45 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 46 Mathieu Perget (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne 47 Nicolas Hartmann (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 48 Iñigo Landaluze Intxaurraga (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 49 Ivan Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 50 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Auber 93 51 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Bretagne - Armor Lux 52 Florian Guillou (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole Coupe de France standings 1 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 148 pts 2 David Lelay (Fra) Bretagne - Armor Lux 114 3 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française des Jeux 96 4 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Agritubel 74 5 Anthony Ravard (Fra) Agritubel 70
2007 Mikel Echeverria Gaztanaga (Spa) Agritubel 201 km in 4.45.35 (43.28 km/h) 2006 Mikel Echeverria Gaztanaga (Spa) Atom 201 km in 4.53.46 (41.032km/h) 2005 Jonas Ljungblad (Swe) Amore & Vita-Beretta-Polska 201 km in 5.02.10 (39.911km/h) 2004 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 193 km in 4.55.27 (39.255 km/h) 2003 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) AG2R Prevoyance 2002 Franck Bouyer (Fra) Bonjour 201.4km in 4.54.24 (41.046 km/h) 2001 Didier Rous (Fra) Bonjour 206 km in 4.51.32 (42.479 km/h) 2000 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2R-Prevoyance 200.2km in 4.45.16 1999 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Casino 204 km in 4.52.05 1998 Marco di Renzo (Ita) Cantina-Tollo 204 km in 4.56.54 1997 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) 1996 Laurent Desbiens (Fra) 1995 Mario De Clercq (Bel) 1994 Patrick Van Roosbroeck (Bel) 1993 Dimitry Zhdanov (Rus) 1992 Bruno Cornillet (Fra) 1991 Fabrice Naessens (Bel) 1990 Francois Lemarchand (Fra) 1989 Laurent Bezault (Fra) 1988 Alberto Leanizbarrutia (Spa) 1987 Jean-Claude Colotti (Fra) 1986 Francis Castaing (Fra) 1985 Michel Bibillet (Fra) 1984 Claude Moreau (Fra) 1983 Pierre Bazzo (Fra) 1982 Serge Beucherie (Fra) 1981 Bernard Bourreau (Fra) 1980 Jean-René Bernaudeau (Fra) Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com