April 14, 2011 – The Plan: We had two objectives going into the GP de Denain…1) Place a man in the early break: this would put us into position to go for the sprint classification. As well as control the front to take pressure off the guys behind. All our riders except for Zach were put on early breakaway duty. 2) After the breakaway was established, we wanted all of our remaining guys to ride for Zach Bell. They were to keep him out of trouble, comfy, fed and, in the final 30km, keep him well placed before leading him out for the sprint.
HOW IT UNFOLDED
After reviewing the course, the entrants and race history, we anticipated an eventual bunch sprint. HTC, Radioshack, Europcar, Vaconsoleil, Aqua-Sapone and Saur-Sojasun all have strong sprinters. Jimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun) had won this race three times previously. He won again today for Saur-Sojasun, making it his fourth win in Denain.
The race featured three big loops of approx 40km each, followed by five laps of a 15km finishing circuit. The course was predominantly urban, through Denain and the surrounding suburbs. And although it passed some of the most famous cobblestone sections of Paris-Roubaix -notably the Wallers Arenberg forest, this GP Denain had no cobblestone sections.
The race started aggressively and the first breakaway was established, and Bruno Langlois marked it for our team. This breakaway was captured after about 5 to 7km and immediately a counter attack went off the front with five riders. Will Routley marked this move for SpiderTech. This became the break of the day.
Behind, Katusha and HTC started to ride a controlled tempo. They kept the breakaway at a safe three-minute distance, continually feathering their tempo to keep the gap stable.
Up front, Will was in perfect position to battle for the intermediate sprints. His breakmates Steven Tronet from Roubaix Lille-Metropole and Grégory Joseph from Top Sport Vlaanderen had the same plan. After 140km of racing, Will was one point behind Tronet. He was not beating Tronet in the sprints, so he decided to attack solo to try to take the points. This tactic proved successful, and although Will was brought back by his break mates each time, he was able to secure the sprints and win not only the Sprint Points Classification, but also the Most Aggressive rider title.
With about 27km to go, Will and Romain Matheou from Saur-Sojasun were swept up by the main bunch led by Landboukredit and Katusha. In the group, SpiderTech cyclists Bruno Langlois, Flavio DeLuna and Charly Vives were well place near Zach Bell to keep him in front. Then, just before the final 15km lap, disaster struck and three of our riders crashed: Bell, DeLuna and Vives. Bruno Langlois waited for Zach and we tried desperately to get Bell back to the main bunch before the finish. However, with the race in full action and an untimely barrage by the moto commissaire, we weren’t able to get him back to the peloton.
“The final result doesn’t show how well the guys rode today,” said Director Sportif Kevin Field. “The guys rode a fantastic race today. They executed our plan perfectly. Will was great up front, adapting to the situation and winning the Sprint Classification. Behind, I was really happy to see how well the guys were riding for Zach. Bruno was fantastic today. He was the road captain and rode a completely selfless race trying to get Zach back in contact at the end.”
Full results here.
NEXT RACE: April 15 – UCI 2.1 Ronde Van Drenthe / Dwars Door Drenthe (NED).