Sánchez takes bunch sprint in first stage of Circuit de la Sarthe
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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sánchez takes bunch sprint in first stage of Circuit de la Sarthe

by Bjorn Haake at 9:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results

Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) took his third win this season, when he outsprinted his competitors in the Circuit de la Sarthe. Sánchez won the opening stage in the sprint, after a two-man move had been eliminated with only three kilometers remaining. Marko Kump (Adria Mobil) was second and Anthony Ravard (AG2R La Mondiale) finished third.

Sánchez was resigned to help the team's sprinter, Mathieu Drujon. "But he told me during the stage that he wasn't feeling well and  that he would work for me," Sánchez said. "There was a turn with 400m to go. I was in third position, on the wheel of Drujon and another  teammate, Arnaud Coyot. we launched the sprint from there and had a gap of about 15m, which was sufficient to resist against the peloton."

It wasn't Sánchez first time here. "Sarthe is a race I know very well and I can say that it is not easy. The stages are tough and tomorrow we have two stages. The road race is only 97 km and then there is the time trial in the afternoon, not quite seven kilometers long."

Sánchez uses the race as preparation for the classics. "I didn't want to have too much time without competing between the Volta a Catalunya and the Amstel Gold Race."

Sánchez is feeling quite well, after spending a week of rest with little training. "Now we will try to defend the leader's jersey, although the race is difficult to control, with the teams only six riders strong."

Sánchez received three jersey, the orange one for the stage win, the green one for the lead in the sprinters' classification and the yellow for the overall lead. The pink jersey will be worn by RadioShack's Yaroslav Popovych tomorrow, while Kump leads the young rider's classification.

A fast start

The race started extremely fast, with attacks going left and right. The peloton kept a tight lid on things and there were no successful breakaways as a consequence. It did achieve a racing distance of already 44.8 kilometers after one hour, however. At km 58, a group of ten finally went away. The gap never went past 30 seconds, as the peloton deemed the group too large to get a bigger gap.

As a consequence, there were constant attempts from riders to bridge up, making the racing quite hectic. Lance Armstrong confirmed this on his twitter account. "Stage 1 of Sarthe done. Fast stage. Took 120 km before breakaway finally went. Nuts. Good racing though. Popo has the climbers jersey. It's pink."

The lead group was reduced to three riders at the feedzone (km 92), but swelled up again as riders jumped to the front from behind. When a larger group joined in, two riders finally did manage to go clear almost 70km from the finish, Yuri Trofimov (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Kristjan Fajt (Adria Mobil).

The duo increased their advantage to 2'20 by km 144 and then held it steady. When the final circuit - a seven -kilometer lap to be raced three times - was entered, the gap came down to 1'40. The sprinters' teams tried hard to eat into the gap, but Trofimov and Fajt held their own, still having a minute with ten kilometers remaining.

Eventually, the claws of the peloton did reach the escapees,  with only three kilometers remaining.

Results - 184.6km

1. Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne)
2. Marko Kump (Adria Mobil)
3. Anthony Ravard (AG2R La Mondiale)
4. Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux)
5. Fabien Bacquet (Big Mat - Auber 93)
6. Manuel Belletti (Colnago Csf Inox)


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