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26th Cholet-Pays De Loire - 1.2

France, March 23, 2003

2002 Results    Results    Past winners

Mengin ends dry spell in Cholet

Hometown hero Bouyer denied again

By Jean-François Quénet in Cholet

Mengin gets it
Photo: © G. Mesnager
Click for larger image

Franck Bouyer, 29, from the Brioches La Boulangère team will have to wait until his 10th attempt to go for the win in his favourite race Cholet-Pays de Loire. For the second time in a row, he came second behind an ex-teammate from his former organisation La Française des Jeux. After Jimmy Casper in 2002, Christophe Mengin is the man who prevented him from following his dream to succeed in his home town.

"The races of the Coupe de France suit me," Mengin commented after his win. "They're hard races with small climbs that I can climb, and I'm reasonably quick in a sprint. I'm happy because it's been a long time since I've won, so it's good for the team, and particularly good for me."

Cycling is a very unpredictable sport. Many people thought the field wasn't as good as it used to be in this UCI 1.2 race. There were only 111 riders on the start line, the best being the members of French teams who didn't take part in Milan-San Remo the day before. But rarely has Cholet-Pays de Loire been such a beautiful race!

The early race animation came courtesy of Krassimir Vasilev (Porta de Ravessa), who went on the attack before the first of the race's ten climbs. By the second climb, Vasilev had been caught and passed by Megin's Aussie teammate Brad McGee, who in turn was caugth be a counter attack from Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulangère), marked by Sandy Casar of The bagarre continued throughout the first two hours of racing, though each move gained no more than a minute over the chasing field.

A superb breakaway went at half way with 101 kilometres to go. At the top of the Côte du Jeu, the fourth of the ten climbs of the day, seven men broke clear: Bouyer and Sylvain Chavanel (La Boulangère), Mengin (, Laurent Lefèvre (Jean Delatour), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team fakta), Peter Farazijn (Cofidis) and Cyril Saugrain (BigMat), although Saugrain lasted only little while.

"I didn't want to repeat the same mistake as in the Classic Loire-Atlantique on Friday when we stayed outnumbered compare to La Boulangère who made a 1-2 at the end, Mengin explained. We had to drop one of them. That's what happened with Chavanel in the last climb prior to the final circuit.”

The five leading riders showed up in front of the fabulous crowd of Cholet, entering the town with a 1'05" advantage. The bunch was closing quickly, led by Crédit Agricole, Ag2R, Marlux and Oktos, who had missed the break. Young Belgian Philippe Gilbert showed some authority when he reduced the pace of the peloton.

It wasn't enough to derail the train, however, and by the end of the first of three finishing circuits, the gap to the five escapees was down to 40". The capture looked inevitable, yet by the end, with no time gap at all, the five men managed to keep their positions.

All French podium
Photo: © JF Quenet
Click for larger image

The peloton, winding up its sprint, narrowly escaped a repeat of infamous crash in Armentiers in the 1994 Tour de France, when an inattentive policeman at the roadside stood in the way of the mass sprint. This time, thankfully, tragedy was averted and the road marshall noticed his poor positioning fractions of a second before taking out a sizable portion of the bunch. Meanwhile, up front, Bouyer launched the sprint, but was quickly overtaken by Mengin, who emphatically scored his first win since 1999.

"If it weren't in Cholet, I would have won," said a an extremely disappointed Bouyer. Last year's Coupe de France winner was too motivated, and as a result started his sprint from too far out- 300 metres- and in too big a gear. Mengin easily overtook him and beat him by a bike length. "I knew that if I was able to sprint behind Bouyer, I would have won," Mengin explained.

The former Tour de France stage winner (in 1997) who lost to Thor Hushovd last year in Bourg-en-Bresse by a very small margin made another comment about the local hero. "To win in Cholet, Franck shouldn't have left FDJ." Directeur sportif Marc Madiot would have loved to keep him in the team, but added, "When Franck was with us [1997 to 1999], we never won in Cholet..."

This is's eigth win this year, with three wins each for Baden Cooke and Jimmy Casper, and one for Bernhard Eisel.


Images by Jean-François Quénet

Image by Georges Mesnager

Results - 202 km

1 Christophe Mengin (Fra)                        4.54.04  (41.215 km/h)
2 Franck Bouyer (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère
3 Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Jean Delatour
4 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team fakta
5 Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
6 Damien Nazon (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère
7 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2r-Prevoyance
8 Lilian Jegou (Fra) Credit Agricole
9 Olivier Perraudeau (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère
10 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Credit Agricole
11 Cédric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
12 Sébastien Joly (Fra) Jean Delatour
13 Franck Pencole (Fra) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin
14 Bruno Thibout (Fra) Jean Delatour
15 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Jean Delatour
16 Sébastien Talabardon (Fra) Big.Mat-Auber 93
17 Pedro Miguel Miranda Soeiro (Por) Carvalhelhos-Boavista
18 Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
19 Janek Tombak (Est) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
20 Frank Hoj (Den) Team fakta
21 Jimmy Casper (Fra)
22 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère
23 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
24 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
25 Franck Renier (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère
26 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) Jean Delatour
27 Gustavo Domingos Lemos (Spa) Carvalhelhos-Boavista
28 Thierry De Groote (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop
29 Alexei Sivakov (Rus) Big.Mat-Auber 93
30 Nelson Victorino Sequeira (Por) Porta da Ravessa-Tavira
31 Wim Van Huffel (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
32 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin
33 Christophe Edaleine (Fra) Jean Delatour
34 Ludovic Auger (Fra) Big.Mat-Auber 93
35 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Credit Agricole
36 Walter Beneteau (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère
37 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra)
38 Médéric Clain (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
39 David Moncoutié (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
40 Jan Kuyckx (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
41 Pierre Bourquenoud (Swi) Jean Delatour
42 Guillaume Auger (Fra) Big.Mat-Auber 93
43 Jose Carlos Silva Rodrigues (Por) Carvalhelhos-Boavista
44 Christophe Rinero (Fra) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin
45 Krassimir Vasilev (Bul) Porta da Ravessa-Tavira
46 Anthony Morin (Fra) Credit Agricole
47 Frédéric Gabriel (Fra) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin
48 Gustavo Cesar Veloso (Spa) Carvalhelhos-Boavista
49 Felix M. Garcia Casas (Spa) Big.Mat-Auber 93
50 Charles Guilbert (Fra) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
51 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole
52 Benoît Poilvet (Fra) Credit Agricole
53 Sandy Casar (Fra)
54 Johan Coenen (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
55 Frédéric Bessy (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
56 Stéphane Goubert (Fra) Jean Delatour
57 Didier Rous (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère
58 Vincent Templier (Fra) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin
59 René Joergensen (Den) Team fakta
60 Marek Rutkiewicz (Pol) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
61 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
62 Stéphane Berges (Fra) Ag2r-Prevoyance
63 Eddy Lembo (Fra) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin
64 Stéphane Barthe (Fra) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin
65 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra)
66 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère
67 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
68 Geoffrey Demeyere (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim                 0.17
69 Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim               0.25
70 Yoann Le Boulanger (Fra) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin             1.11
71 Erkki Pütsep (Est) Ag2r-Prevoyance                           1.17

Starters: 111
Classified: 71

Past winners

2002 Jimmy Casper (Fra)   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)


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,