The first half of February saw top-class cycling back into action in Europe, not just amongst the pros, but also on the Elite-2 and Under 23 scene, with several races in France and the season kick-off in Spain too. And so are our reports on the stars of tomorrow. Here's our first "Young Gun" roundup of the year 2007.
A few days after the GP La Marseillaise fired the traditional starting shot of the pro cycling season in Europe, our sport was back to the streets of France in the Elite-2 and Under 23 scene too. It was the town of Amélie-les-Bains, in the Eastern Pyrenees area of the Hexagon, that made history by hosting the 2007 kick-off, with 198 riders taking part in the Boucles Catalanes
. And it was a helluva start, with the 116-km. race featured by strong winds (notably in its early part), more than one pile-up, and a flurry of attacks and counter-attacks that broke up the peloton. The good move had three protagonists: Sébastien Turgot (Vendée U-Pays de la Loire), who broke clear on the Col de Calce slopes, and fellow countrymen Alexandre Blain
(AVC Aix-en-Provence) and Thomas Bouteille (CC Etupes) who countered his attack. But the race didn't end up in a all-French three-man sprint, as with fast Turgot in the front trio Blain made the decision to attack his breakaway companions on the last ascent, the Col de Llauro, whose summit was at just 15k from the line. A good choice indeed, as it earned him a great solo victory with a margin of 01'35" over the two other podium finishers. The closest pursuers, led by Russia's Sokolov, came in close to three minutes behind. The Australian David Tanner snatched 14th place and was the top English-speaking finisher around, while Steve Lampier was 24th and fellow Brit James Spragg ended up in spot number 61.
Boucles Catalanes (116 km) Top 20 Places
1. Alexandre Blain (FRA - AVC Aix-en-Provence) - 03h02'33"
2. Sébastien Turgot (FRA - Vendée U-Pays de la Loire) - at 01'35"
3. Thomas Bouteille (FRA - CC Etupes) - s.t.
4. Evgeny Sokolov (RUS - Vendée U-Pays de la Loire) - at 02'31"
5. Samuel Rouyer (FRA - UV Aube) - s.t.
6. Jérémie Derangère (FRA - SCO Dijon) - s.t.
7. Léo Fortin (FRA - CR4C Roanne) - s.t.
8. Perrig Quémeneur (FRA - Vendée U-Pays de la Loire) - at 02'42"
9. Franck Perque (FRA - CC Nogent-sur-Oise) - at 02'43"
10. Julien El Farès (FRA - AVC Aix-en-Provence) - s.t.
11. Mickael Jeannin (FRA - France Poursuite) - s.t.
12. Benoît Daeninck (FRA - UV Aube Troyes) - s.t.
13. Julien Guay (FRA - Vendée U-Pays de la Loire) - s.t.
14. David Tanner (AUS - VC La Pomme Marseille) - s.t.
15. Maxime Bouet (FRA - VC La Pomme Marseille) - s.t.
16. Kalle Kriit (EST - RO Saint-Amandoise) - s.t.
17. Mathieu Converset (FRA - CC Etupes Le Doubs) - s.t.
18. Ignas Konovalovas (LIT - VC La Pomme Marseille) - s.t.
19. Sylvain Boullin (FRA - CC Etupes Le Doubs) - at 03'19"
20. Maxime Hardy (FRA - Côtes d'Armor) - at 04'56"
No more than 24 hours later, most of the Boucles
peloton was back in the saddle for the Circuit Méditerranéen
, a similar (but running in better weather conditions) challenge running over 115 km. around Toulouges, in the same area of southern France near the Spanish border. Unlike the previous race, this time it all came down to a massive sprint of about sixty riders, despite the flurry of attacks going throughout the parcours. But just like the day before, it was a rider from the AVC Aix-en-Provence squad who took highest honors, as former MTB specialist Benjamin Giraud
had the quickest legs and clinched victory from better-known Franck Perque (CC Nogent-sur-Oise) and "poor" Sébastien Turgot (Vendée U-Pays de la Loire), who hit the podium for the second time in as many days but also narrowly missed victory for the second time in the space of just 24 hours.
Circuit Méditerranéen (115 km) Top 20 Places
1. Benjamin Giraud (FRA - AVC Aix-en-Provence) - 02h45'58"
2. Franck Perque (FRA - CC Nogent-sur-Oise) - s.t.
3. Sébastien Turgot (FRA - Vendée U-Pays de la Loire) - s.t.
4. Mickaël Szkolnik (FRA - Albi VS) - s.t.
5. Samuel Bonnet (FRA - Blois CAC 41) - s.t.
6. Jérémie Derangère (FRA - SCO Dijon) - s.t.
7. Florent Barle (FRA - VC Lyon Vaulx-en-Velin) - s.t.
8. Tomasz Smolen (POL - CC Etupes) - s.t.
9. Julien El Farès (FRA - AVC Aix-en-Provence) - s.t.
10. Thomas Lebas (FRA - Entente Sud Gascogne) - s.t.
11. Mathieu Fabry (FRA - VC La Pomme Marseille) - s.t.
12. Maxime Bouet (FRA - VC La Pomme Marseille) - s.t.
13. Anthony Soucaze (FRA - Albi Sport Vélo) - s.t.
14. François Lamirad (FRA - France Poursuite) - s.t.
15. Samuel Rouyer (FRA - UV Aube Troyes) - s.t.
16. David Han (FRA - SCO Dijon Team Lapierre) - s.t.
17. Arnaud Madec (FRA - Côtes d'Armor) - s.t.
18. Yannick Marie (FRA - Entente Sud-Gascogne) - s.t.
19. Thomas Bouteille (FRA - CC Etupes Le Doubs) - s.t.
20. Christophe Rose (FRA - Vélo Sport Hyérois) - s.t.
The French domination of very early season races came to an end soon. That was the fault of the "orange armada" of Pagnoncelli. Waiting for the Italian season to get underway (it's gonna happen Saturday, February 24th with the traditional opener, the Coppa San Geo, in the outskirts of Brescia) the mighty boys from Lombardy are keeping thier legs busy on French tarmac. And with good results too, mainly thanks to their star fastman Giovanni Carini
, who crossed the line first in the Route de l'Atlantique
, kickoff "stage" of the Essor Basque series, which covered 110 km. between Biriatou and the border town of Hendaye in the very southwestern corner of France. Five riders, Carini and a couple Russians included, staged the winning breakaway, and in the end it was the Italian that took line honors under the Basque sun and in front of the Atlantic ocean, with Fabien Rey - impeded by Andrey Kluyev in the sprint - as the only French on a podium also hosting Spain's Oscar Pujol. Alexandre Blain had another good ride by finishing 7th, while Pagnoncelli's excellent day (along with the Russians and Pujol's Azpiuru team they were the most active squad around) was made complete by the eighth place result scored by Italy's National U23 Road Race Champion Marco Cattaneo, and Britain's Andy Jackson rode to a solid thirteenth place finish.
Route de l'Atlantique (110 km) Top 20 Places
1. CARINI, GIOVANNI (ITA - PAGNONCELLI) - 02h40'35"
2. REY, FABIEN (FRA - AVC AIXOIS) - s.t.
3. PUYOL, OSCAR (SPA - AZPIRU-UGARTE) - s.t.
4. TROFIMOV, YURY (RUS - RUSSIAN N.T.) - at 07"
5. KLUYEV, ANDREY (RUS - RUSSIAN N.T.) - at 07"
6. SELEDKOV, IVAN (RUS - RUSSIAN N.T.) - at 07"
7. BLAIN, ALEXANDRE (FRA - AVC AIXOIS) - at 02'16"
8. CATTANEO, MARCO (ITA - PAGNONCELLI) - at 03'30"
9. CAZAUX, PIERRE (FRA - ENT SUD GASCOGNE) - at 03'30"
10. BROCA, FABIEN (FRA - ENT SUD GASCOGNE) - at 03'30"
11. KHATUNTSEV VASILY (RUS - RUSSIAN N.T.) - at 03'30"
12. LEBAS, THOMAS (FRA - ENT SUD GASCOGNE) - at 03'30"
13. JACKSON, ANDREW (GBR - CERCLE GAMBETTA) - at 03'30"
14. VALYNIN, VALEREY (RUS - RUSSIAN N.T.) - at 03'30"
15. MAXIMOV, ROMAN (RUS - RUSSIAN N.T.) - at 05'53"
16. SUHUBIETTE, LIONEL (FRA - ENT SUD GASCOGNE) - at 05'53"
17. GONZALEZ, JULEN (FRA - AZPIRU-UGARTE) - at 05'53"
18. FOUR, LAURENT (FRA - LESCAR VELO SPRINT) - at 05'53"
19. GASPARINI, LUCAS (ITA - PAGNONCELLI) - at 05'53"
20. PEYROTON-DARTET THOMAS (FRA - GSC BLAGNAC) - at 05'53"
Mr. Carini was the best also in Saturday's Boucles de la Soule
Elite Nationale contest, aka "stage two" of the Essor Basque series. Only it was ... best of the rest, as the Bretagne-Armor Lux professional team, not racing the Route de l'Atlantique two days earlier, came to southwestern France and just demolished opposition by getting their six men in attendance into all top 6 spots
!!! FYI, winner of the "Armor Lux Team Championships" was the veteran (34) Charles Guilbert
, able to make the winning move with a dozen kilometres left, and power to the line with a good margin over his closest ... non-chasers: teammates David Le Lay and Antoine Dalibard. Pagnoncelli got also another of their best riders, Bruno Rizzi, in the top ten spots, while Alexander Blain gave a further display of his excellent condition as he finished in ninth.
Boucles de la Soule: Top 10 Places
1. Charles Guilbert (FRA - Bretagne-Armor Lux) - 02h29'03"
2. David Le Lay (FRA - Bretagne-Armor Lux)
3. Antoine Dalibard (FRA - Bretagne-Armor Lux)
4. Piotr Zielinski (POL - Bretagne-Armor Lux)
5. Guillaume Le Floc'h (FRA - Bretagne-Armor Lux)
6. Jean-Luc Delpech (FRA - Bretagne-Armor Lux)
7. Giovanni Carini (ITA - Pagnoncelli)
8. Yuri Trofimov (RUS - Russian N.T.)
9. Alexandre Blain (FRA - AVC Aix-en-Provence)
10. Bruno Rizzi (ITA - Pagnoncelli)
The Circuit des Plages Vendéennes
Elite Nationale series got underway Saturday with a first manche
of 1369 km. both starting and finishing at Perrier
town. And with the Vendée U team hungry to start off on the right foot on home roads. Five of their riders ( Alexandre Bousseau, Ludovic Bret, Damien Gaudin, Fabrice Jeandesboz and - needless to say - Sébastien Turgot) made the break early into the race. But some guys followed their move, amongst them Mathieu Drujon (Auber 93) and Belgium's Jonas De Couttere (Cycling Team Lombarden). the breakaway opened up a gap of above four minutes on the bunch, but Auber 93 launched a fruitful chase and the peloton was back together. Such that it was time for a massive sprint, with Russian Evgeny Sokolov sprinting his legs out to give Vendée U the win. And raising his arms in triumph. Too bad that he sprinted and celebrated his "win" ... a bit too early. To the delight of Vendée's former athlete Mathieu Drujon
, who benefitted from Sokolov's mistake and crossed the real
line in first place ahead of De Couttere, and Brittany's Julien Gonnet of SuperSport 35-ACNC, with Sébastien Turgot narrowly falling short of the podium.
Circuit des Plages Vendéennes #1 (Perrier, 136.9 km): Top 20 Places
1. Mathieu Drujon (FRA - Auber 93) - 03h15'42" (41.972 Km/H)
2. Jonas De Couttere (BEL - C.T. Lombarden)
3. Julien Gonnet (FRA - Super Sport AC Noyal Chatillon)
4. Sébastien Turgot (FRA - Vendée U Pays De La Loire)
5. Evgeny Sokolov (RUS - Vendée U Pays De La Loire)
6. Cyrille Noel (FRA - Super Sport AC Noyal Chatillon)
7. Cyrille Patoux (FRA - VC Rouen 76)
8. Christophe Diguet (FRA - Auber 93)
9. Tristan Le Yondre (FRA - Super Sport AC Noyal Chatillon)
10. David Boisseau (FRA - Poccl)
11. Bertrand Legendre (FRA - VS Chartrain Cyclisme Team Gir's)
12. Stéphane Conan (FRA - Hennebont Cyclisme)
13. Steve Houanard (FRA - Super Sport AC Noyal Chatillon)
14. Yohann Poirier (FRA - CC Périgueux Dordogne)
15. Alexandre Bousseau (FRA - Vendée U Pays De La Loire)
16. Clément Canado (FRA - VS Chartrain Cyclisme Team Gir's)
17. Jean-Marc Runavot (FRA - Ussh)
18. David Garnier (FRA - UC Sabolienne)
19. Jérémie Galland (FRA - Auber 93)
20. Denis Cioban (MOL - Super Sport AC Noyal Chatillon)
The past week-end saw some good racing at the French-Spanish border, starting with Saturday's La Tramontane
an effort of 146.3 km. from France's Perpignan to the Catalan town of Blanes in the Girona province (well-known to TdF seven-time winner Armstrong and several other pro riders and fans from the USA). Jérémie Dérangère
made the most out of his great form by clinching his second win - the first one coming six years ago - in the event. The SCO Dijon leader came first across the line at Blanes' Passeig de Catalunya. Romain Lebreton (CC Etupes) was the most active contender under the pouring rain, but his hard-earned advantage of half a minute was nullified as the race was neutralized by the Catalan police. Still, he didn't give up and went on the move again, but this time Dérangère and his teammate Thomas Brigau were able to follow. Brigaud got dropped with about 20k left, but Dérangère successfully attacked unlucky Lebreton in the last km and took the win. CC Etupes' efforts were rewarded by Tomasz Smolen's third place result too, but unfortunately (for them) they just couldn't reach the biggest target. The top 10 also saw an English member, ninth-place getter Dean Downing of Rotherham, and of the Rapha Condor team.
La Tramontane (146.3 km) Top 20 Places
1. Jérémie Dérangère (FRA - SCO Dijon) - 03h30'33"’
2. Romain Lebreton (FRA - CC Etupes) - at28"
3. Tomasz Smolen (POL - CC Etupes) - at01'20"
4. Laurent Beuret (FRA - SCO Dijon) - s.t.
5. Nicolas Bourdillat (FRA - RO St. Amandoise) - s.t.
6. Mathieu Converset (FRA - CC Etupes) - at01'25"
7. Radoslav Konstantinov (BUL - Martigues) - at01'48"
8. Benjamin Cantournet (FRA - UV Aube) - s.t.
9. Dean Downing (GBR - Rapha Condor) - s.t.
10. Gaël Bernard (FRA - UV Aube) - s.t.
11. Grégory Barteau (FRA - VC Lyon Vaulx) - s.t.
12. Romain Chaudoy (FRA - Blois CAC) - s.t.
13. Mathieu Simon (FRA - UV Aube) - s.t.
14. Laurent Bourgeois (FRA - CC Etupes) - s.t.
15. Jérôme Chevallier (FRA - CC Etupes) - s.t.
16. Stéphane Benetière (FRA - Le Creusot) - s.t.
17. Thomas Zaragoza (FRA - E.Le Boulou-St Chély) - s.t.
18. Maxime Hardy (FRA - Côtes D’armor) - s.t.
19. Yoann Hooge (FRA - Le Cheylard) - s.t.
20. Clément Gaudry (FRA - SCO Dijon) - s.t.
Monsieur Jérémie Dérangère
must be a happy man. After going from Perpignan to Blanes in Saturday's "Tramontane", the "young gun" field took a u-turn and moved back to the same Perpignan in Sunday's Ronde du Canigou
. But no matter where the finish line was, the SCO Dijon's team leader legs stayed the same (and so did the horrible weather as well as the "hectic" race dynamics) and took him to the top of the podium again. Dérangère powered to victory as he put in a late move with about 3k to go and took advantage of the several roundabouts in the very last part of the course to put enough time into his chasers, while Cédric Barre (RO St Amandoise) and Thomas Bouteille (CC Etupes, once more his team had to surrender to Dérangère's power) made the all-French podium complete. By winning both races held between Perpignan and Blanes, Jérémie Dérangère joined an exclusive club containing just three more riders: Lars Michaelsen, Bruno Thibout and John Nilsson.
Ronde du Canigou (163.7 km) Top 20 Places
1. Jérémie Dérangère (FRA - SCO Dijon) - 03h56'50"
2. Cédric Barre (FRA - RO Saint-Amandoise) - at 02"
3. Thomas Bouteille (FRA - CC Etupes) - s.t.
4. Romain Fondard (FRA - CC Nogent-sur-Oise) - s.t.
5. Tony Huet (FRA - Blois CAC 41) - s.t.
6. Florent Barle (FRA - VC Lyon-Vaulx-en-Velin) - s.t.
7. Mickaël Szkolnik (FRA - Albi VS) - s.t.
8. Tomasz Smolen (POL - CC Etupes) - s.t.
9. Yohan Ooghe (FRA - Le Cheylard FC) - s.t.
10. Cyril Gautier (FRA - France Espoirs) - s.t.
11. Thomas Brigaud (FRA - SCO Dijon) - s.t.
12. Romain Hardy (FRA - Côtes d’Armor) - s.t.
13. Laurent Beuret (FRA - SCO Dijon) - s.t.
14. Anthony Soucaze (FRA - Albi VS) - s.t.
15. Cédric Drouet (FRA - RO St Amandoise) - s.t.
16. Régis Geffroy (FRA - Côtes d’Armor) - s.t.
17. Biel Kadri (FRA - Albi VS) - s.t.
18. Kévin Houlné (FRA - SCO Dijon) - s.t.
19. Emilian Broe (FRA - Creusot C) - s.t.
20. Guillaume Levarlet (FRA - France Espoirs) - s.t.
While unstopabble Dérangère was delivering a powerful one-two punch to his rivals in the Catalan area of France and Spain, courtesy of two late moves, the Bretagne-Armor Lux powerhouse was basically doing the same in the Essor Basque series, whose third leg, Sunday's Circuit de la Nive
Elite Nationale event, was running around the town of Cambo-les-Bains. If Charles Guilbert took the spoils in the weekend-opener, Saturday's runner-up David Le Lay
replied Sunday by moving up one place into first, ahead of Giovanni Carini - once more having a great performance but losing to his mighty rivals from Brittany - and Andrey Klyuev, who finally got the Russian National Team onto the podium. Le Lay had a legendary ride, as he rolled off the field halfway through the race and closed a two-minute gap on the breakaway group of fifteen all by himself
. And as if such achievement wasn't enough, the man sped off on his own later ... Britain's Andrew Jackson finished in 22nd, about three minutes behind the winner.
Circuit de la Nive: Top 10 Places
1. David Le Lay (FRA - Bretagne-Armor Lux) - 03h02'49"
2. Giovanni Carini (ITA - Pagnoncelli) - at 19"
3. Andrey Kluyev (RUS - Russian National Team) - s.t.
4. Jean-Luc Delpech (FRA - Bretagne-Armor Lux) - s.t.
5. Stéphane Pétilleau (FRA - Bretagne-Armor Lux) - s.t.
6. Alexandre Blain (FRA - AVC Aix-en-Provence) - at 01'50"
7. Gabriele Orizzonte (ITA - Pagnoncelli) - s.t.
8. Iozu Gonzalez (SPA - Azpiru-Ugarte) - s.t.
9. Damien Branaa (FRA - Entente Sud Gascogne) - s.t.
10. Valerey Valynin (RUS - Russian National Team) - s.t
The quest for the "king of the weekend" title has got another serious contender anyway: Mathieu Drujon (Auber 93)
, winner of Saturday's opening event of the Circuit des Plages Vendéennes
series, but also Sunday's second race, held at Luçon
and coming down to a field sprint regardless of all the skirmishes that featured most of the race (but no attackers, not even the always active Sébastien Turgot, could take above a minute on the pack). Drujon's first victims across the line were fellow frenchman Kevin Cherruault (Team U Nantes) and Saturday's "silver medallist" Jonas De Couttere (Bel - CT Lombarden), while Turgot got a top five finish as (little) reward for his fighting attitude ... just what he needed after taking second
at Boucles Catalanes, third
at Circuit Méditerranéen and fourth
at the Plages Vendeennes opener!! Chris Barton from California, but racing with the Vendée U-Pays de la Loire outfit, finished in 44th.
Circuit des Plages Vendéennes #2 (Luçon, 132.1 km) Top 10 Places
1. Mathieu Drujon (FRA - Auber 93) - 02h58'37" (44.374 km/h)
2. Kevin Cherruault (FRA - U Nantes-Atlantique) - s.t.
3. Jonas De Couttere (BEL - Cycling Team Lombarden) - s.t.
4. Jérémie Galland (FRA - Auber 93) - s.t.
5. Sébastien Turgot (FRA - Vendée U-Pays de la Loire) - s.t.
6. Tom Huybaert (BEL - Cycling Team Lombarden) - s.t.
7. Julien Gonnet (FRA - SuperSport 35-ACNC) - s.t.
8. Mathieu Bernaudeau (FRA - Vendée U-Pays de la Loire) - s.t.
9. Antoine Lecuyer (FRA - CC Castelbriantais) - s.t.
10. Franck Bisiaux (FRA - ESEG Douai) - s.t.
This past Sunday The Elite-2 and Under-23 circus was back to southeastern France too, with the Côte d'Azur hosting an Elite Nationale challenge, the Grand Prix de Peymeinade
, an effort of about 130 kilometres over an undulating parcours. Close to 160 riders attended the race, and seventeen of them put in the "breakaway of the day": Julien Antomarchi, Jonathan Balbuena and Ruslan Sambris (VC La Pomme Marseille), Mathieu Beaumais, Emmanuel Bruand and Julien Mesnil (VC Evreux), Morgan Chedhomme (CM Aubervilliers), Laurent Denonfoux, Marc Denonfoux and Loïc Herbreteau (CR4C Roanne), Marc Faure (OCCV Draguignan), Arnaud Godet (CA Mantes-la-Ville), Philippe Larouzière (VS Hyérois), Pierre Lebreton (US Domont), Colin Menc-Molina (AVC Aix-en-Provence), Frederic Lubach and Yvan Sartis (France Police) broke clear early and put enough time into the chasing (????) field. But Julien Antomarchi
attacked the front group about 35k from the line and soloed in for the win, with Herbreteau taking the runner-up spot and Moldova's Sambris keeping the French from taking over the whole podium.
Grand Prix de Peymeinade (130 km) Top 5 Places
1. Julien Antomarchi (FRA - VC La Pomme Marseille)
2. Loïc Herbreteau (FRA - CR4C Roanne)
3. Ruslan Sambris (MOL - VC La Pomme Marseille)
4. Arnaud Godet (FRA - CA Mantes-la-Ville)
5. Marc Faure (FRA - OCCV Draguignan)
It's not about the French only: the past weekend saw the young guns in the saddle back into action also in Spanish territory. 'Twas the southwestern region of Extremadura which kicked-off the season with the 41st Circuito Guadiana
, whose Elite2/U23 contest (there was a junior race too), opening round of the "Spanish Cup", was held over a course of 156.4 km. - four laps of the same circuit of under 39 kms crossing the towns of Don Benito, La Haba and Magacela - and won by Pedro José Vera (Hierros Agüera)
, who showed some great legs since the early kilometres, and made a late move along with José Ángel Rodríguez (Caja Castilla La Mancha) and Sergio Casanova (Comunidad Valenciana). The move paid off, and eventually Vera proved the toughest in the three-man sprint. Despite some windy weather conditions, José Canovas (Soctec-Huevas Aljarafe) had a great ride on the Magacela climb and took the Mountains prize, while Miguel Álvarez (Ávila Rojas) was crowned ... King of the Metas Volantes, and Andalucía-Caja Sur was the best squad. Last and perhaps least, Abel Fragua of the Fuenlabrada cycling team won the prize for the top local finisher.
41st Circuito del Guadiana (156.4 km) Top 3 Places
1. Pedro José Vera (SPA - Hierros Agüera)
2. José Ángel Rodríguez (SPA - Caja Castilla La Mancha)
3. Sergio Casanova (SPA - Comunidad Valenciana)