Sunday, March 31, 2013

l'Artois: Ludvigsson storms to overall victory

While Tobias Ludvigsson is experiencing a breakthrough year with Argos-Shimano on the World Tour level, it remains to be seen if he is even the most talented rider in his family. Frederik Ludvigsson is only in his first year as a U23 but he has already impressed greatly with strong rides in the Tour de Normandie and now Boucles de l'Artois.

The day started early for riders as the first stage of the day was a 23 kilometer time trial. Young Felix English (Rapha-Condor), a rider best known for upsetting Chris Hoy on the track, held the provisional best time for a while before being overtaken by Atlas Personal-Jakroo's Nicolas Baldo, last year's An Post Ras overall winner. Baldo only held the hot seat for 15 minutes before being knocked off by former junior world TT medalist Jasha Sütterlin (Thüringer Energie), who took an 18 second chunk out of Baldo. Eamon Frank (USA) lowered Sütterlin's time by a further four seconds but the leader's from yesterday's stage were still to come.

As the stage wore on, the wind began to pick up and while this would affect rider's times for the stage, the 26 leading riders from yesterday's stage were fighting it out amongst themselves to determine the G.C. The 18-year old Swede Ludvigsson was on a mission and quickly caught the first rider ahead of him and then caught the rider that was ahead of him and kept plowing ahead. By the time that Ludvigsson crossed the line, he nearly caught the 3rd rider ahead of him and took an outstanding 19 seconds off Franck's time. According to his DS, Ludvigsson was nearly skidding through the turns in his biggest gear, which is incredible for a rider as young as he is. With Ludvigsson's dominate stage victory, the G.C. looked like this heading into the final stage.

  1. Frederik Ludvigsson (People4You-Unaas)
  2. Berden De Vries (Jo Plies) +26"
  3. André Steensen (CULT Energy) +29"
  4. Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-iHNed) +1'01"
  5. Sjors Roosen (Jo Plies) +1'16"

The final afternoon stage was flat and fast affair that saw lots of attacking but none that put Ludvigsson in much danger. A breakaway of six riders controlled much of the early racing on the 132.5km stage to  Mont Saint Eloi but with 25 km to go, the move was shut down as 18 riders, including race leader Ludvigsson, moved ahead of the peloton on the ascent of the Mont Saint ELoi but they were brought back by a CULT Energy-led peloton with 12km to go. A three man move of yesterday's stage winner Louis Verhelst (Etixx-iHNed) Leonardo Pinozzotto (Nippo) and Max Schachmann (Thüringer Energie) jumped ahead and took nearly 30 seconds on the peloton. With the finish lying on an uphill of   Mont Saint Eloi, the gap began to drop significantly as the group, with the trio having just 11 seconds as they hit the final uphill kilometer. Pinozzotto was the strongest and was able to stay solo and take the win ahead of a charging group at 3 seconds led by Florian Sénéchal (Etixx) which contained an ecstatic Ludvigsson.

Leonardo Pinozzoto holds on for the solo victory over the front group

  1. Leonardo Pinozzotto (Nippo)
  2. Florian Sénéchal (Etixx-iHNed) +3"
  3. Johan Coenen (Differdange) s.t.
  4. Anthony Colin  s.t.
  5. Frederik Ludvigsson (People4You) s.t.
As Ludvigsson benefitted from the uphill finish, he was able to put more time into nearly all of his rivals. 
  1. Frederik Ludvigsson (People4You-Unaas)
  2. Berden De Vries (Jo Plies) +26"
  3. André Steensen (CULT Energy) +54"
  4. Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-iHNed) +1'17"
  5. Clement Lhotellerie (Colba-Superano Ham) +1'21"
Ludvigsson will continue to smash more races this season as his combination of time trialling and solid climbing is lethal in most U23-oriented races. 

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