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37th Tour de Vendée - 1.1

France, October 5, 2008

2007 Results    Results    Past winners

Chavanel's hunger flat allows Fernandez to sign Basque hat trick

By Jean-François Quénet in La Roche-sur-Yon

Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is the third Basque to win the Tour de Vendée
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

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

A smiling Mathieu Drujon at the start, fifth at the end
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

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/

Results - 206.5 km

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

Past winners

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,