Cavendish claims first national road race title in small group sprint
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cavendish claims first national road race title in small group sprint

by Kyle Moore at 9:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, National Championships
 
Devolder breaks away to his third Belgian championship

Mark CavendishMark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) nailed his first British road racing championship in an untraditional fashion, as the Manx Missile was riding without much of a team to back him up. And Cavendish won the race in what was kind of an untraditional style – breaking away with a small group and then dusting them in a sprint.

With just Omega Pharma-Quick Step team-mate Andy Fenn there to support him, Cavendish had to adopt a more free-styling tactic. Fenn helped by joining the day’s early break, allowing Cavendish to relax a little in the peloton, although he would have to work hard for his title. The Manx rider showed some ominous form in getting over all of the day’s climbing.

On the ninth of 14 laps, Cavendish joined a group with David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) and Sky Procycling team-mates Ian Stannard and Peter Kennaugh. He hung in, and eventually reeled in a late move by Millar, and then took Stannard in the sprint.

Cavendish: “I'm really happy with this result. To be honest this morning I wasn't so sure because there were so many teams here with a lot of riders and there were only two of us here — me and Andy. The parcour was not so easy, really technical. Fenn was in the original breakaway with Stannard. It was a good move to put Fenn in the front so I could save myself and sit on the wheels of the chasing group and stay relaxed. Then when we caught Fenn and Stannard, I started riding. In the final kilometers there remained only three of us and I went for the sprint. It was really, really nice. I'm happy because I am proud to be British and wear this jersey for the first time in my career, especially heading into the Tour de France.” (Omega Pharma-Quick Step website)

British National Road Race Championship:
1, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
2, Ian Stannard (Sky Procycling)
3, David Millar (Garmin-Sharp)
4, Peter Kennaugh (Sky Procycling)
5, Luke Rowe (Sky Procycling)



Devolder gets a satisfying win - Belgian title number three:

Stijn Devolder (Radioshack-Leopard) took his third career Belgian road race title, this time around La-Roche-en-Ardenne. The victory is a satisfying rebound after several forgettable years for Devolder, and after his non-selection to the Radioshack-Leopard Tour de France squad.

In a long and aggressive 220km race, Devolder made the move that stuck with 25km to go, soloing away to the win.

There were a few unsuccessful attacks early in the race, until Tom Boonen, Pieter Serry, Dries Devenyns, and Bart De Clercq moved ahead and eventually took a minute of advantage after three laps were gone. A short while later, the lead was two minutes, though De Clercq was not contributing much to the pace, being that all three of his breakaway mates ride for Omega Pharma-Quick Step. Riders from Vacansoleil-DCM worked in the peloton to keep Boonen’s group close, as Omega Pharma-Quick Step sheltered odds-on-favourite Gianni Meersman in the peloton. But the work of Kris Boeckmans and Willem Wauters was no match for the Boonen group, and Crelan-Euphony began pitching in to the chase, as the gap moved toward three minutes. With 120km to go, their advantage rested at 2’30”.

Meersman flatted but chased back on, and Vacansoleil and Crelan-Euphony continued to work on the front of the bunch. Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, the most represented team in the race, chipped in as well. The Boonen breakaway was under two minutes with six circuits left to race. The Crelan-Euphony duo of Sebastian Delfosse and Stijn Steels put in a dig, but it was Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) who made the waves immediately after, and though he was quickly shut down, his dig sent the gap to the Boonen group tumbling. With five laps to go, they were nearly back within the thinning main bunch, which at this point was close to just 20 men.

All were together with still 50km to go, and other escapees were marked by Meersman and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing). The next group to threaten was the trio of De Gendt, Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Leopard), and Kevin Seeldraeyers (Astana). Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Serge Pauwels were the workhorses for Meersman, but three laps later, the trio was still ahead, though only just.

It was with just under two laps to race that Devolder sprung his move. The De Gendt group was almost caught at the time of his attack, and Devolder quickly dispatched them, and went unanswered the rest of the way to the finish.

Devolder: “I was really focused on this championships – I wanted to win. This is a nice moment for me. I wanted to show that I am really back after some bad years. I promised myself that I would win a big race again and now I want to enjoy this moment with my family. They stuck by me and we deserve this. We didn’t have the numbers but I chose the right moment to attack. You need to be strong but also smart. It was the right moment to attack at two laps to go. It absolutely played out the way I had pictured it over the last couple of months. Having Jan in the front with Seeldraeyers and De Gendt was just perfect. I could sit back and wait to see how the race would unfold. I knew I had put out one massive effort instead of playing a game. Thanks to everyone on the team that was here today, both the riders and staff. I can’t believe I won this! I knew how good I was, but I had been hiding my shape a bit because I didn't want to be named as a favorite. There were so many favorites, and I didn't want to start the race with pressure.

“No, this is not an answer to my non-selection [to the Tour]. I had no time to be disappointed as I was so busy preparing for this championship. Nothing could keep me from concentrating on this goal these past days. After the classics, these championships were my only goal. I bundled all of my energy into this day. I’m very, very happy and proud. It’s an honor to wear this jersey.

"When I was alone, I didn't really think of much except of Wouter Weylandt. That's why I made that sign when I crossed the finish line. I have been wanting to dedicate a victory to him since he died and now I finally had the chance.” (Radioshack-Leopard website)

Belgian National Road Race Championship:
1, Stijn Devolder (Radioshack-Leopard)
2, Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
3, Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Leopard)
4, Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM)
5, Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco)

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