Don Juan gives Saxo Bank some welcome good news with a photo finish sprint victory in the Loire.
Saxo Bank's Argentinean sprinter Juan José Haedo has won the 32nd edition of the Cholet-Pays de Loire. In a bunch sprint finish, the 26 year old edged in-form Jimmy Casper (Besson Chaussures-Sojasun) in a photo finish, with Alexandre Pichot (BBox Bouygues Telecom) rounding out the podium. Doubling up as the opening round of the new-and-reduced Coupe de France, there were several dangerous breakaways in this rolling 205-kilometer event. Pierre Rolland, Christophe Moreau, Nicolas Vogondy and Pierre Cazaux were among the men in the thick of things. However, Saxo Bank did their utmost to bring things back together after the last of the ten climbs, before delivering fast man Haedo to his second win of the year. His previous victory was a stage at the Tour of San Luis in January.
Post-race, a happy Haedo commented: "I am pleased to offer this victory to the team after a strong effort from my teammates. I had to wait until the very last second to go past and throw the bike across the line in front of Casper."
His directeur sportif, Kim Andersen, who coincidentally won this very same race 19 years ago, was similarly content with the day's events: "It was a fantastic race where we were ahead of things and were in several breakaways throughout the race. The race was done at a really high pace and on the last laps in Cholet, we tried to keep the peloton in one group, so JJ was able to sprint to victory".
This will come as some very welcome good news for Saxo Bank-IT Factory, whose big-name riders been on the receiving end of some bad luck of late. First, star Classics turn Fabian Cancellara had to take two weeks out after crashing on an icy road. Then, after a promising second place in Paris-Nice, Frank Schleck hit the deck on Thursday, fortunately escaping a break or fracture. However, it took him out of the reckoning for Milano-San Remo. Most recently, Stuart O'Grady barely made it out of the Milan ring-road at "La Primavera", crashing inside the opening 50 kilometres. His Classics hopes are now shattered, having sustained a broken collar-bone and a fractured rib.
32nd GP Cholet-Pays de Loire (Cholet - Cholet), UCI 1.1, 205km, Top 20 Results
1. Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank-IT Factory, Arg) 4h 47m 31s
2. Jimmy Casper (Besson Chaussures-Sojasun, Fra)
3. Alexandre Pichot (BBox Bouygues Telecom, Fra)
4. Kevyn Ista (Agritubel, Bel)
5. Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team, Ita)
6. Julien Mazet (Auber 93, Fra)
7. Steven Tronet (Roubaix - Lille Metropole, Fra)
8. David Lopez Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne, Spa)
9. Romain Feillu (Agritubel, Fra)
10. Jure Kocjan (Carmiroo - A-Style, Slo)
11. Jean-Eudes Demaret (Cofidis, le Crédit en Ligne, Fra)
12. Michel Kreder (Rabobank CT, Ned)
13. Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank CT, Ned)
14. Arnaud Gerard (Francaise des Jeux, Fra)
15. Olivier Bonnaire (BBox Bouygues Telecom, Fra)
16. Guillaume Levarlet (Francaise des Jeux, Fra)
17. Jan Bakelants (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator, Bel)
18. Lilian Jégou (Besson Chaussures-Sojasun, Fra)
19. Julien Simon (Besson Chaussures-Sojasun, Fra)
20. Cédric Pineau (AG2R-La Mondiale, Fra) all same time