Vichot stuns Chavanel and Gallopin for French road race title
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Vichot stuns Chavanel and Gallopin for French road race title

by Kyle Moore at 11:09 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, National Championships
FDJ rider in day long break, then plays it right in final kilometre

Arthur VichotArthur Vichot (FDJ) grabbed a surprising victory in the French national road race championship, surprising Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Tony Gallopin (Radioshack-Leopard) in a three-man finale. Vichot attacked with a kilometre to go and wasn’t immediately covered, and the two men with him never saw his wheel again.

What made Vichot’s victory even more surprising, and thrilling for the French rider, was that he had been in the daylong breakaway that featured for most of the 13 circuit laps that were raced near Lannilis. After three hours of racing, an eleven-man group had ten minutes on the main peloton, but this gap was whittled down at the expected rate.

With their advantage tumbling, Vichot attacked the group and eventually got away by himself with 35km to go. Over the next 15 kilometres, Chavanel flexed his muscles in the main group, using a series of accelerations to whittle down the remaining bunch. The Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider got away on his own and caught up to Vichot with 19km to go, although Gallopin had been vigilant as well and bridged up, making a leading group of three, and about 15 men behind them chasing.

Vichot understandably had Chavanel and Gallopin doing a lot of the work to keep the trio clear, but the FDJ rider was taking his own turns with 10km left. The group behind had too many worn out passengers and not enough drivers, so Vichot, Chavanel, and Gallopin were left to fight out the victory.

Just before the one-kilometre banner, Vichot remained in the saddle but accelerated on the left side of the road, just as Chavanel was looking back at Gallopin. Neither man responded right away, and when Vichot glanced behind and saw he had a gap, he stamped on the pedals in a proper attack. The advantage he got with the move was plentiful enough over Chavanel and Gallopin, who knew they had left it too late.

“It’s pretty amazing to win after I was in the break all day,” Vichot said at the finish. “I did pretend a little to be thoroughly tired when Chavanel and Gallopin came up. After that, I saw an opportunity in the finale. This is a career goal come true. I get to wear the French jersey for a year.”

How the French tricolor was decided:

There were 13 laps of a 19km course featured in and around Lannilis, in the Brittany region of France. It took some time to establish, but the breakaway of eleven built a maximum lead of ten minutes, and it was composed of Vichot, William Bonnet (FDJ), Jimmy Engoulvent, Maxime Mederel, Jean-Loup Paiani (Sojasun), Sebastien Chavanel, Angelo Tulik (Europcar), Renaud Dion (Bretagne-Seche), Steve Chainel (Ag2r La Mondiale), Stephane Poulhiès (Cofidis), and Alexandre Blain (Raleigh). Ag2r La Mondiale was doing most of the work in the peloton, and with 90km to go, the gap to the eleven leaders was around six minutes.

The kilometres ticked down and the breakaway was reeled in, at five minutes with 70km left, and at three minutes, ten kilometres later. Over the finish line with three laps to go, there were 30-some men left within the contending group, and a larger grupetto forming behind, out of the running completely.

With 48km left, Bonnet was the first to drop from the escape group, and at 45km, the chasing group was just 1’30” behind the ten men left, and Ag2r was continuing to pull. Over the finish line with two laps remaining, the peloton’s deficit was just 1’10”, and Sebastian Turgot (Europcar) kicked off the attacking from the chasing group. The former Paris-Roubaix runner up got an immediate advantage, as the breakaway was disintegrating up front.

With 35km to go, Vichot made his move, although action was going on at both ends. Jerome Pineau (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) sprung a move for his team-mate Chavanel. The French time trial champion was away on his own for a stretch, and he soon bridged up to Turgot. More chasers came across to them, but with 29km left, Chavanel attacked again after a feed zone. His group was in pieces once more, but he pulled several riders across to remnants of the original breakaway, totaling six men.

Ahead, Vichot still clung to a 33-second advantage, while Chavanel eased off the gas behind. This allowed the previous breakaway riders to hang on, and it also allowed several more riders to come up from behind, forming a 15 to 20-man chasing group behind Vichot. Ag2r’s Chainel used some more energy for a brief attack, made brief by the fact that Gallopin had covered it, and it was shut down quickly. But the pace remained high, and several of the Sojasun riders from the original breakaway were struggling, as was Sammy Dumoulin (Ag2r La Mondiale). Pineau was back on the front for Chavanel, although Vichot was still 37 seconds ahead.

On a downhill section, Chavanel lit another match and no one could follow his acceleration, and the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider set out in pursuit of Vichot. Little accelerations by numerous riders out of the chasing group exploded it completely. One of them was made by Gallopin, who had Chavanel in his sights, and the Radioshack rider was briefly joined in his chase by Vincent Jerome (Europcar) and Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Seche). These two could not hold Gallopin’s pace however, and beginning the final 19km lap, there were three individuals spread out in the lead: Vichot, Chavanel, and Gallopin.

Chavanel was soon up to Vichot, and interestingly, these two soon sat up to wait for Gallopin. FDJ was organizing a large number of troops behind them, recognizing the fact that, with two fresh and powerful riders now with Vichot, the young Frenchman wouldn’t have much chance. With the trio just 16 seconds ahead, FDJ had Laurent Pichon and Anthony Roux burying themselves on the front of the remaining bunch of approximately 15 riders. Sojasun pitched in a little, but when Pichon and Chainel were dropped, the leading trio began to expand their lead.

Gallopin and Chavanel were doing most of the work to keep the group behind them, with Vichot sitting on. FDJ lost a man when Roux flatted on a dirt road section, and only one FDJ man was left to pull. He had Pineau just behind him, with Adrien Petit (Cofidis) also sitting in. At 14km to race, the gap was 26 seconds and still growing. Europcar came to the fore with 11km to go and the escapees at 34 seconds, but it was soon too late for the chasing group. FDJ had two riders, Europcar had two, Bretagne-Seche had three men, and Cofidis had Petit, while Pineau simply sat on and watched.

At 7km to go, the gap was still 35 seconds, and the leading trio would be left to fight out the victory. After feigning some fatigue, Vichot proved he still had plenty left with 1.2km to go, accelerating away. Gallopin briefly took up the chase before seeming to run out of energy, so Chavanel moved away from him. But they had waited too long to take up the chase, and Vichot was already gone, taking his biggest career victory.

2013 French road race championship – Men’s Brief Results:

1, Arthur Vichot (FDJ)
2, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
3, Tony Gallopin (Radioshack-Leopard)
4, Anthony Roux (FDJ)
5, Yoann Offredo (FDJ)
6, Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ)
7, Sammy Dumoulin (Ag2r La Mondiale)
8, Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne-Seche)
9, Anthony Geslin (FDJ)
10, Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun)


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