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The Grand Prix La Marseillaise
 
By Podofdonny
Date: 2/6/2007
The Grand Prix La Marseillaise
 

The Grand Prix La Marseillaise
Hunt wins for Team “?”. It’s a fair bet it was the Unibet.com Team.


Jez Hunt courtesy Unibet

Jeremy Hunt, a man so often overlooked by British selectors, made a flying start to the season with a win today that said much about his qualities as an experienced rider and also gave a great boost to his Unibet.com Team, who have been involved in legal disputes throughout the week.

The 32-year-old proved too strong for Russian Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff) in the final two man sprint after completing the 126,7 km course between Gardanne and Luminy in southern France..Both men had been at the head of affairs since the 20th kilometre. Belgian Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis) took third place ahead of co-patriot Glenn d'Hollander (Chocolade Jacques).


A happy Hunt in the a symbolic questioning jersey, but no question in the quality of his early season win for the team waiting for an answer. Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

Unibet had to start in neutral jerseys without the name of their sponsors but instead a large Question Mark, because race organisers were fearful of breaking the new French Laws which does not allow on line gaming to be advertised in France unless a French Gaming licence is held.

The Belgian-Swedish team said they accepted the decision by race organiser Roland Villalonga but they felt disadvantage because other teams like Lotto were not affected by the same restrictions. A lawyer acting on behalf of Team Unibet said the advertising ban violated European law.


Mikhail Ignatiev at the finish.      Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

The race saw 14 riders break clear after 20 kilometres of racing, they were, Stef Clement (Bouygues Telecom), Sven Renders (Chocolade Jacques), Mathieu Drujon (Auber 93), Michiel Elijzen and Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Roger Hammond (T-Mobile), Jeremy Hunt and Laurens Ten-Dam (Unibet.com), Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit System), Jan Kuyckx (Landbouwkrediet), Pieter Mertens (Predictor), Christophe Moreau (Ag2r Prévoyance), Rémi Pauriol and Pierre Rolland (Crédit Agricole). With most teams represented these men made good their break and the winner was always likely to come from one of these men.

The climb on the col de l'Espigoulier, with 45 kilomètres to go saw the breakaway split and three men break clear,Jeremy Hunt, Mikhail Ignatiev and Staf Scheirlinckx.

Hunt’s experience showed off, and benefiting from great work earlier in the race from his team mate he took a very classy victory.


Podium: Jeremy Hunt, first race of the season - first win. Fotoreporter Sirotti

The Unibet View
The Unibet.com ProTour riders haven’t departed in their usual Unibet.com outfit in the GP d’Ouverture-La Marseillaise in France today. Due to the French legislation concerning games of chance, any kind of Unibet.com publicity is illegal. The French national lotteries La Française des Jeux and PMU have a monopoly position regarding gambling.

The Unibet.com cycling team management was aware of the likely problems but choose to line up with the original outfit. The race organization didn’t allow the shirts and even threatened the team to be banned from the race.

“Fortunately we brought alternative outfits with us that had the sponsor’s logo with a big question mark on it. Our team cars only have ‘uni’ on them instead of ‘unibet.com’, the rest is perfectly covered with tape”, said Director Sports Jacques Hanegraaf of Unibet.com. “Our team is being discriminated!”

Jeremy Hunt (Unibet.com) has won the GP d’Ouverture-La Marseillaise today. Hunt out sprinted his breakaway companion Michail Ignatiev (Team Tinkoff) and nicely won the French opening classic. Laurens ten Dam (Unibet.com) finished fifth.

Jeremy Hunt and Laurens ten Dam were attentively in front and made part of the early breakaway of fourteen riders today. Hunt escaped out of the lead group with Scheirlinckx and Ignatiev on the second climb of the day and beat his companions in the sprint.

"I'm very satisfied with this great win for the team", said Jeremy Hunt. "Laurens ten Dam and I rode a perfect race. It was very hard, but I had enough left to easily beat Ignatiev in the sprint."

“This is an excellent victory”, shouted general manager Koen Terryn of Unibet.com. “Regarding the participation problems in France we had the last weeks, this is the best publicity we could have hoped for!”


The peloton arrives in Marseillaise.       Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

The T-Mobile Angle
T-Mobile's new signing Roger Hammond had an unlucky debut in Magenta colors. The Briton stumbled in the last climb of the one-day race (UCI category 1.1) and couldn't match the pace as the leaders took off for the finish line.

"Roger is in good form and proved his credentials as a leading figure in the team. Of course he's annoyed about today's bad luck, but he'll put that behind him over the next days at the Star of Bessège where he'll show his young compatriot Mark Cavendish the way to the front of the peloton", said T-Mobile sporting director Allan Peiper.

Hammond finished in ninth place, the best-placed rider for the Bonn-based team. He was able to show his ability right at the start of the race, keeping in touch with the leaders after 13 riders broke away from the rest of the field after only 11 Km.

Results:  Grand Prix La Marseillaise
126 kms - 3:07:09 - 39.6 km/h
1. Jeremy Hunt (GBR, Unibet.com) les 126 km en 3h07'09" (39,6 km/h)
2. Mikhail Ignatiev (RUS, Tinkoff Credit System) à 3 sec.
3. Staf Scheirlinckx (BEL, Cofidis) à 13 sec.

4. Glenn D'Hollander (BEL, Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen) m.t.
5. Laurens Ten-Dam (PBS, Unibet.com) m.t.
6. Rémi Pauriol (FRA, Crédit Agricole) m.t.
7. Sven Renders (BEL, Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen) à 17 sec.
8. Pierre Rolland (FRA, Crédit Agricole) m.t.
9. Roger Hammond (GBR, T-Mobile) à 21 sec.
10. Pieter Mertens (BEL, Predictor-Lotto) à 24 sec.

 
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