Ag2r La Mondiale’s long wait ends with two victories in one day
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Ag2r La Mondiale’s long wait ends with two victories in one day

by Shane Stokes at 7:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Hinault and Georges turn things around for French squad

Sebastien HinaultThe old adage about buses is a well known one; important victories sometimes also follow the same rule, with a cluster coming at once. Earlier today Sébastien Hinault (pictured) ended a long, somewhat embarrassing drought for the Ag2r La Mondiale team, which had been the only WorldTour team without a victory.

Hinault spared the team its blushes when he won stage three of the Circuit de Lorraine, taking the honours in a sprint against Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ BigMat), Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil DCM) and 51 others. It was a welcome relief for the team and also a significant result for the rider, who had fractured his scaphoid earlier this year.

"I'm really glad for the team and I am pleased to be the rider who obtain this stage win,” he said afterwards. “This victory erases my disappointment somewhat at not being able to compete in the Classics this year. I have always remained focused on my season, I was motivated and I continued to train well. Today, the team did a great job. They led me out until the last 200 meters, then I was in an ideal position. I could not fail today."

Unbelievably, after waiting over five months for one win, a second came several hours later. Sylvain Georges attacked just two kilometres into the 187.3 kilometre sixth stage of the Amgen Tour of California, racing ahead with six others. He worked hard with them then, with approximately 45 kilometres to go to the finish in Big Bear, pushed on ahead alone and opened what would prove to be a decisive lead.

While the peloton ramped up the chase, he had a sufficient buffer and managed to reach the line 28 seconds clear of the chasing bunch, which was led home by Peter Sagan (Liquigas Cannondale).

Race leader Dave Zabriskie summed up the prevailing emotion at the finish. “The Ag2r guy did an amazing ride. I don’t think anyone expected that to stick, so hats off to him,” he said.

Ag2r La Mondiale management and supporters probably also didn’t expect the move to work, given that it had waited so long for a win and then finally picked one up today. Two seemed too much to hope for, but that’s exactly what happened. With the pressure off, Georges was able to race for the biggest win of his young career, and to show that the French team is finally back in the groove.


Race report and reactions to follow later

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