Gilbert foils the two sprinters in Tours
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gilbert foils the two sprinters in Tours

by Bjorn Haake at 11:13 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Paris-Tours

Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) repeated his victory in Paris-Tours in a tactical three-up sprint on the famous Avenue de Grammont, used for the last time in history. Gilbert timed his jump perfectly to leave his two breakaway companions, Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) behind. Lone chaser Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) held off a larger chase group for fourth place.

Gilbert's move was perfectly planned. With a little less than one kilometer to go he waved Bozic through to the front and lined himself up behind Boonen. Bozic was then forced to pull for the remainder, with Gilbert jumping as the three rode past the 300m-to-go sign on the right hand side of the road. "I immediately jumped to the left so they couldn't get into my slip stream," Gilbert said after the race.

Bozic tried hard but couldn't close the gap. Boonen realized too late that Bozic was done and although he closed rapidly he couldn't get up to Gilbert and hit his handlebars in frustration.

Gilbert was confident in his abilities. "All the sprints I won this year [not necessarily for first place -ed.] I won after long and hard races." He put a bigger chainring on today for "I knew there was a tail wind."

Tactically, he did everything right. "In the end on those climbs, I tried to stay in the top five to six place." That way he'd be able to react quickly and dictate the pace as well. Gilbert took advantage of the move by teammate Greg van Avermaet on the côte de l'Epan, with eight kilometers to go, .

"I knew that I could close a gap in no time." Boonen and Bozic joined in. Van Avermaet couldn't handle the other's pace and the trio worked well together until the end. "I have to thank them for pulling through," Gilbert said. "We arrived at the finish together and the strongest won."

The Belgian admitted that the Worlds motivated him for a good performance today. "I was disappointed with sixth in the Worlds, so I wanted revenge. It's a nice end to the season," Gilbert said, who also won the Coppa Sabatini three days ago.

But the season isn't quite over yet. "I hope for a strong final in Lombardy next week."

Pre-race favorite André Greipel abandoned the race after a crash.

Confusing end

The break of the day formed shortly after the start and had a maximum lead of over seven minutes (km 100). The group contained Aart Vierhouten (Vacansoleil) who was racing for the last time.

Vierhouten was accompanied by Martin Elmiger, Cédric Pineau (AG2R La Mondiale), Mathieu Ladagnous (Française des Jeux), Damien Gaudin (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Jean-Luc Delpech (Bretagne-Schuller), Jonathan Thiré (Auber 93), Mathew Hayman(Rabobank), Tom Veelers (Skil-Shimano) and Laszlo Bodrogi (Katusha).

After 120km Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), who was not feeling well today, stopped on the side of the road.

The work by Garmin, Silence-Lotto, Cervélo TestTeam and the Quick Step team reduced the gap to a minute, with less than 35km remaining. The front group dwindled down to six riders.

Several attacks inside the last 25km disrupted the peloton's chase and the gap stayed at 25 seconds for a long time. The roundabouts and winds brought on further hassles, requiring full attention from the riders.

When the peloton was within a dozen seconds with a dozen kilometers to go, Veelers attacked from the front group. His efforts were honorable but in vain.

With eight kilometers remaining Van Avermaet opened the finale on the côte de l'Epan. Boonen quickly marked him. Gilbert and Bozic joined and the four rode together, after an initial hesitation.

Van Avermaet dropped back with six kilometers remaining. He was passed by Pozzato, who chased solo. Pozzato in turn was closely followed by a group of more than a dozen riders, but they timed their move badly. 

Pozzato rolled across the line one bike length ahead of them, while in the front the leading trio fought out an exciting finale on the 2.4-kilometer long Avenue de Grammont, which will get some tram tracks next year. Therefore, the organisers decided to move the final for good, although the exact location is yet to be determined.

Results (230km)

1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Silence-Lotto                                       5h12'23 (44.176 km/h)
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                                                          st
3 Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil                                                        0'02
4 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha                                                         0'16
5 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank                                                           st
6 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre-NGC
7 Gerben Löwik (Ned) Vacansoleil
8 Pablo Lastras (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
9 Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervélo TestTeam
10 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux


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