Degenkolb wins Paris-Tours bunch sprint by two lengths
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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Degenkolb wins Paris-Tours bunch sprint by two lengths

by Kyle Moore at 10:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Paris-Tours
 
Argos-Shimano fast man follows late moves then wins the sprint when it comes together

John DegenkolbJohn Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) put the finishing touches on his splendid final portion of the road season, winning Paris-Tours with a powerfully timed effort in the bunch kick. The German breezed around Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) on the Avenue de Grammont, as the French sprinter went a bit early and Degenkolb had plenty in the tank to come around and win by two bikes.

Michael Mørkøv (Saxo-Tinkoff) sprinted up for second place.

The win was Degenkolb’s second over Demare of late, as he also took Paris-Bourges ahead of the FDJ.fr rider on Thursday.

After the entirety of the day’s early breakaway was caught with just over ten kilometres left to race, 2012 Paris-Tours champion Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM) made big waves with a brutal attack on the penultimate climb. He was quickly marked by Degenkolb and Belkin protagonist Sep Vanmarke. But Degenkolb managed his energies well, and when the race finally came back together for a bunch sprint, the German was unquestionably the quickest.

Afterward, Degenkolb was pleased that he was able to anticipate how the finale would play out, and praised the ample work of his team in the final few kilometres, which pulled back a solo move by Jetse Bol (Belkin).

“It was really typical for that race. The real final is going to start when the little short hills come, and from this moment on, it was really fast and hectic,” Degenkolb explained. “It was a changing situation all the time. I played it pretty smart. I didn’t waste too much energy, but I tried to go in the [attacking] groups. I always wanted to be there with my team-mates to have someone there in the finale.

“In the end everything came together. There was the one guy from Belkin left, and it was up to us to chase the gap down, and my team did it. Everybody saw they were really strong to bring him back.”

Degenkolb also directed criticism at the Belkin team for their tactics in the closing kilometres. The green Dutch team had Bol trying to stay away by himself at the front, and they were doing plenty of interrupting at the head of the peloton as Argos-Shimano tried to chase down Bol. Shoulders bumped and barged, to which Degenkolb did not take kindly.

“I was a bit disappointed in Belkin,” Degenkolb stated flatly. “I understand that they don’t want us to chase them down, but they rode today in an unfair way. I think that this situation will have consequences for the future.

“The win means really, really a lot to me. I’ve had a great end of the season, and I’ve showed that I’m our man for the one-day classics. I’m really happy and thankful for my team that they supported me in such a good way. I’m very satisfied now.”

How Paris-Tours played out:

The road season’s final big race got underway in Authon-du-Perche, with 235 kilometres yet to come on the way to Tours. The featured breakaway of the day was a quartet, with Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling), Yannick Martinez (La Pomme Marseille), Julien Duval (Roubaix Lille Metropole), and Sebastian Lander (BMC Racing) looking to leave their mark. Their lead reached double digits, at more than 10 minutes, during the first half of the day, but it was down to a much more manageable six minutes at the midpoint.

With 80km left to race, their lead was under five minutes, as FDJ.fr and Europcar campaigned for their respective sprinters, Demare and Bryan Coquard. Martijn Maaskant was also putting in time on the front for Garmin-Sharp, and Tyler Farrar.

Argos-Shimano got into the action with 60km to go, with the heavy favourite in the race, according to the bookmakers, in Degenkolb. With the added impetus, the gap to the break came down to four minutes. From there, it ticked down incrementally, as discussions bounced regarding the type of group finish that would feature in this edition of Paris-Tours. FDJ.fr and Omega Pharma-Quick Step were near the front as the break’s advantage dipped under three minutes with 42km to go.

After a period of bunch-up in the peloton, the group got to business again with 35 kilometres left to go, as Argos-Shimano drilled a quick tempo and the gap plummeted.

Three climbs that have sprung winning moves in the past kicked off with 30km to go, with the Cóte du Crochu. The peloton didn’t wait for the catch of the break, or the actual climb to start the action, as Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) dropped the first bomb at the 30km mark. In a split second, the racing went from prototypical to action-packed, as Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) kept the pace high with everyone in the bunch back together.

With the last few editions of the fall classic decided in small groups, riders in the peloton were constantly attacking to try and make the 2013 winning selection. Yoann Offredo (FDJ.fr) spun off briefly, and MTN-Qhubeka began trying its hand with sprinter Gerald Ciolek dropped. The original quartet was still out front, but their advantage was just half a minute with 25km to go.

Duval increased the tempo to forge a bigger lead, and both Saramotins and Martinez joined up. A crash in the peloton on a right-hand bend with road furniture in the way took out Europcar’s Coquard and others. Coquard jogged back to his team car, unhurt but looking for a new bike. But the racing was still on, as a Belkin rider pulled four other men clear and swept up Lander from the breakaway.

Coquard joined up briefly with two Lotto-Belisol riders behind their team car in his effort to come back. With 21km left, six riders were off the front, but they struggled initially to find a rhythm. Coquard got help from team-mate Tommy Voeckler to reach the back of the peloton, while at the front, Saramotins began an effort to time trial away. In the new six-man break, Martin Velits of Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Belkin’s Sep Vanmarke helped to reel in Martinez and Duval, as Saramotins maintained his 25-second lead.

The first chasing group was eight strong, with five new men plus three original breakaway riders. But IAM Cycling and FDJ.fr reeled it all in, and with 17km left, it was just Saramotins out front, with 25 seconds on the determined peloton. Three more men went away, with a Bretagne Seche Environnement rider leading contributors from AG2R-La Mondiale and IAM Cycling. FDJ.fr and Belkin were on them, with the French team accelerating with one rider, and Mørkøv just behind him.

Saramotins was caught just before the Cóte du Beau Soleil, the penultimate climb, where the returning champion Marcato charged off with Vanmarke and Degenkolb in tow. Four more men emerged to come across to the dangerous trio. Vanmarke and Degenkolb sat up to wait on them, and Marcato briefly moved away, until Chavanel brought the rest of the new break back to the Vacansoleil rider.

Interestingly, nearly all the race favourites made the elite seven-man move with 8km to go. Bol, Demare, Marcato, Chavanel, Vanmarke, Degenkolb, and Mørkøv were present. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) used the final climb, the Cóte de l’Epan, to spring across quickly to the move. But as the favourites assessed each other, the peloton got back on them. Bol moved up the road alone and took out a few seconds with 5km to go. The Belkin rider got in an aero tuck and pulled out ten seconds, as the chasing peloton swung from side to side on the road.

Bol had a 13-second lead with 3km to go, as Belkin came forward in the peloton and tried to disrupt Argos-Shimano’s chase. With 2km left, the bunch had Bol in their sights. Belkin was desperately trying to interrupt the chase, which had both FDJ.fr and Omega Pharma-Quick Step near the front.

Bol swung left onto the historic Avenue de Grammont and hit the one-kilometre kite. But his efforts proved to go unrewarded, as FDJ.fr led out for Demare, but the Frenchman was forced to open it up a bit too early.

Degenkolb was there and went left around him. Mørkøv, having a sprint victory to his credit in the Vuelta a España, rode impressively again, but could not emerge from the slipstream of the German. Farrar left it a bit too late, showing a good sprint, but not quite able to top the fading Demare.

Paris-Tours Brief Results:

1, John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano)
2, Michael Mørkøv (Saxo-Tinkoff)
3, Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr)
4, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp)
5, Michael Van Staeyen (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise)
6, Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling)
7, Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R La Mondiale)
8, Jon Aberasturi (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
9, Ioannis Tamouridis (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
10, Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)

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