GP Ouest France - Plouay: Young French Rider Alaphilippe 5th
GP Ouest France - Plouay, with a new 229.1 parcours in 2014, came down to a small group of mostly French riders on Sunday, and young OPQS rider Julian Alaphilippe was among them. The race featured a big 26.9km circuit of eight-laps, and a final small circuit of 13.9 kilometers.
A seven rider group barely held off the peloton, with Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) winning the sprint out of the small group that went away with about 2km to go, following the last steep climb of the day: Cote de Ty Marrec, which was 4km from the finish line. The race came back together on that climb. Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) was 2nd, and Arthur Vichot (FDJ.FR) was 3rd. OPQS French rider Alaphilippe was 5th.
Michal Kwiatkowski originally attacked and formed a different seven-rider group that was caught on the final steep climb of the day. That group did not collaborate well in the final 10 kilometers. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) was a member of both the Kwiatkowski group and the Alaphilippe group that decided the stage. He repeatedly attacked in both groups.
OPQS went to the front on the final climb once Kwiatkowski was swept up by the peloton, and the first seven-rider group was also caught. That is when Alaphilippe was able to get into the crucial move of the stage.
"I'm happy about my race even if in the last kilometers I didn't have great legs," Alaphilippe said. "When Wellens accelerated I jumped on his wheel and I tried to work with him, but I couldn't. I didn't have enough left in my legs. I still gave everything in the sprint and I finished 5th. To me, it's a great satisfaction, even if I could have done better than this with a little more left in the tank at the end. But Plouay is a long and nervous race, and in the final you have to be fresh. It's a matter of training and improving, and of course it's also a question of experience. I will work day-by-day to improve in these kind of races. Now, I will try to keep the condition and do well in the Canadian races."
"As a team we rode well," Sport Director Tom Steels said. "The guys were always present in the good actions of the race. The presence of Kwiatkowski in the 7 rider breakaway allowed the other guys to save energy for the final. At the end Julian was 5th, which is a great result for such a young rider in a demanding race. We know that he can do well in these races. Also, Gianni Meersman did a good sprint behind and he barely missed the top ten for 11th position. Considering everything it was a good race for us."