9/5/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!
Pozzato takes sprint victory at GP Ouest France-Plouay
Elite Men: Plouay 243km
Nizzolo, Dumoulin complete podium
Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) claimed his biggest win in years with victory in Sunday’s GP Ouest France-Plouay. The Italian sprinted to the line ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack Leopard) and Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R La Mondiale) to take his second win in two weeks following his victory in the Coppa Agostoni last month.
Facing a strong headwind on the finishing stretch, Pozzato exercised patience then made use of his fast finish to come through in the final few metres for the win at the head of a 70-strong field. BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet had launched a vicious attack from three kilometres out but the Belgian was reeled in within sight of the finish line.
"I'm really happy to be able to win such an important race for the team, the Galbusera family and our secondary sponsor Merida," said Pozzato. "We knew that it would be difficult to win the sprint from the front. I preferred to wait in my opponents' wake until the final moment on the straight, downhill finish then launch my own sprint."
For Nizzolo, second was a bitter pill to swallow as he thought he'd had the race won in the final metres.
"I started my sprint a bit early because last year I was too late," said Nizzolo. "It’s a tricky finish here and very easy to get boxed in. But at five or ten metres to go, Pozzato passed me.
"Second is nice but first is better. When someone passes you so close to the finish, it sucks. In the last lap I tried to follow the attacks and found myself between the attackers and the bunch. I spent too much energy there, I believe."
The 77th edition of the GP Ouest France-Plouay, part of the UCI WorldTour calendar, consisted of nine laps of a 27km circuit starting and finishing in Plouay, situated in France's Brittany region.
A four-man break formed soon after the race started and was comprised of members from each of France's four Pro Continental squads: Natnael Berhane (Europcar), Vegard Stake Laengen (Bretagne-Seche Environnement), Christophe Laborie (Sojasun) and Julien Fouchard (Cofidis). The peloton gave the quartet plenty of leeway as the escapees built up a lead in excess of 16 minutes, but by the time the break began it's penultimate lap their lead was cut to less than three minutes.
Prior to beginning the final 27km circuit the early break was absorbed and the counter-attacks began. Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano) were momentarily able to escape the peloton's clutches, but entering the final 10 kilometres the deck was re-shuffled as three riders, Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Kristijan Koren (Cannondale) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol), were on the attack and held a slender 13-second advantage.
Their escape was neutralised at the lap's final climb, the Cote de Ty-Marrec, inside of five kilometres remaining and the punchy ascent saw several riders jump away from the peloton in a bid for victory. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was the first over the climb and was closely marked by Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano). This leading group would quickly grow to nine, but lacking cohesion and with the peloton just seconds behind more attacks were launched.
Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) jumped away alone with 3.5 kilometres remaining, but the Italian's move was short-lived and was countered by Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). The Belgian has been on good form of late having won a stage at the Tour of Utah as well as notching seven top-five finishes in stages in Utah and then Colorado's USA Pro Challenge, but the BMC rider now faced a difficult 3km time trial to the finish line.
The 28-year-old Belgian's solo attack continued under the flamme rouge, however, but he would be swept up by the peloton at 300 metres to go. "I felt really strong and I had a lot of power in my legs," said Van Avermaet. "But three kilometres alone with a headwind the whole way was hard."
Orica-GreenEdge led out the sprint but it would be Pozzato who reigned supreme in the Plouay finale.
Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) celebrates victory in the 2013 edition of the GP de Plouay
Photo: © AFP
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