Monday, February 22, 2016

French Weekend Update

It is here, it is here. The season, at least for many, is finally upon us. Both the Copa España and the Division 1 Coupe de France got kicked off and some U23s got shots across Europe, Asia and elsewhere. For now, we will start with France and go from there. Let's get to it, shall we?

Coupe de France: Corbel takes opening round

What happens when you lose your professional contract and you are French? Well, you get a ride on a top flight amateur team and plunder the Coupe de France calendar. Example being Erwann Corbel of VC Pays de Loudéac. Corbel had a neo-pro contract with Bretagne - Séché Environment and actually wasn't too bad by most standards by getting a few small wins and some results like a 4th at Le Samyn, 10th at Tro Bro Leon as well as a lot of other finishes in races. He wasn't renewed and thus pushed back into the overcrowded kiddie pool of the French amateur scene, where there is a new revelation every other week. Corbel actually fell further than some back to the Division 2 level with his Pays de Loudéac team, which is located in the heart of Bretagne. His 2015 season was a good rebound with 5 wins including the Championship of Bretagne, which helped propel Loudéac up to the DN1 circuit for this season. More specifically, they were the last team promoted to the top flight.

A day before the GP Pays d'Aix, Pays de Loudéac boss Yves Bonnamour (father of Fortuneo-Vital Concept rider Franck Bonnamour) seemed hopeful after a couple of early season wins with old hand Cyrille Patoux and Fortuneo-Vital Concept bound Elie Gesbert. An early season results grab would be vital to getting invites to UCI races down the road but I doubt Bonnamour would expect what happened down on the coast outside of Marseille.

The race, only 138 kilometers, was marked by a breakaway that got nearly 4 minutes. The breakaway included both Mathieu and Maxime Le Lavandier, Benoit Cosnefroy, Gaillard from Vendée U and Le Court De Billot (GSC Blagnac). The gap came down but it wasn't until 25 kilometers to go that everything came back together. A split happened in the late stages of the race due to multiple attacks with the final one being brought back with 500 meters to go and a group of 23 came to the line together. Loudéac came in with 4 riders and Patoux was the protected rider for the sprint but found himself in bad position coming into the finale. After relative non-sprinter Leo Vincent launched the sprint, it was Corbel that found a seam and stormed past the climber to take the win while Patoux hung on for 3rd.

VC Pays de Loudéac enjoying the spoils (via DirectVelo)
With the top 30 scoring points for the team classification and a team getting a maximum of three scoring riders, Pays de Loudéac came up with a massive 175 points with 1st, 3rd and 14th ahead of CC Etupes with 100 points and VC Rouen with 95 points. Vendée U, who came into the race as one of the hottest in France after their demolition on the Vendée beaches, had an alright race with U23 Simon Sellier finishing 6th. Some U23s that finishes well were Corentin Ermenault (5th), Valentin Madouas (7th) and Aurelien Paret-Peintre (11th).

Elsewhere in France...

-At the Circuit des Plages Vendéennes, Kevin Le Cunff (CM Aubervillers 93) took two out of the last three races in the series to finish 2nd overall for the 5 race series. It was Vendée U's young 19 year old Charles Herbert that won the race series overall after finishing in the top 10 4 times and 15th on the final day.

-At the GP Souvenir Jean-Masse, former U23 World TT medalist Yoann Paillot was well on his way to a fine solo victory for his Océane Top 16 team. Except for the part where a course official sent him the wrong way, making him cut the course and seeing Paillot ejected from the race due to no fault of his own. It was the much less known Bastien Duculty taking the win once the judges had their say.

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