Bunch Kick Opens Tour du Poitou Charentes

Tue 27 Aug 2013

With Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn amongst the team’s seven starters, ORICA-GreenEDGE lined up for the first stage of the Tour du Poitou Charentes with an interest in bunch sprint despite losing Aidis Kruopis to illness before the French Tour. Durbridge, the defending champion of the four day, five stage race, and Hepburn aim to start the stage three time trial in contention for the overall victory.

“Our goal with these first two stages is to keep Durbo and Heppy out of trouble,” explained Brett Lancaster. “They’re ready to give the time trial a really good shot, and we want to keep the race together for them so they don’t lose time before the time trial on Thursday.”

A three rider breakaway slipped away from the bunch in the opening kilometres. By the end of the first hour of racing, the trio had more than 11 minutes on the field. Vini Fantini and ORICA-GreenEDGE were the first teams to inject effort into the chase.

“Albasini did a little on the front early basically to open up his legs,” explained Lancaster. “Jens Mouris, Heppy, Albasini and I have all just come from Hamburg. We didn’t have the best travel schedule, and we’re all a little bit tired. We needed the early part of the race to get our legs going again.” assumed control for the pace-making in the second half of the race. They slowly but steadily reeled in the escape. Forty kilometres from the finish, Thomas Vaubourzeix (La Pomme Marseille) had dropped his breakmates and forged ahead alone.

“FDJ worked during the last 100km,” noted Lancaster. “They actually did a really good job, but the leader was still away with 55” at 8km. That’s around the time I decided to bring Luke up to the front. I did a turn from 4km to 3km and then Jens Mouris did a big turn after that. It was back together at 2km, and Durbo was in a really good position. He didn’t lose any time or crash.”

“We’ve done a lot of big races this year,” Lancaster continued. “Coming into a race with smaller teams that are eager to show themselves can get pretty dangerous. Taking Luke up at the end was hairy.

Nacer Bouhanni ( outsprinted Benjamin Giraud (La Pomme Marseille) and Maxime Daniel (Sojasun) for the stage win. Fumy Beppu was the best-placed ORICA-GreenEDGE rider in 21st place on the same time as Bouhanni. Durbridge, Hepburn and Albasini also finished on bunch time.

“We’re not the only team with an eye on the time trial,” Lancaster said. “Thomas Löfkvist (IAM) and Gustav Larsson (IAM) could also have really good rides, so IAM was another team with general classification aspirations that was ready to work with the sprint teams.”

“It’s a shame that Aidis is sick,” added Lancaster. “It was a good stage for him, and we definitely could have helped him out today.”