Second of last year’s edition of Paris-Tours behind Greg Van Avermaet, Italian Marco Marcato powered to the biggest victory of his career on the famous Avenue de Grammont.
The Vacansoleil rider proved to be the fastest of a three-man group that had broken away in the decisive last hills of the course. Marcato beat De Vreese and Terpstra to the line, claiming the 106th edition of the legendary race.
Chavanel, first attacker
Under a cloudy sky, the 190 riders (one non-starter: Meier-OGE) of the 106th edition took of at 10:38 from the city of Châteauneuf-en-Thymerais (Eure-et-Loir). As soon as kilometre 2, Sylvain Chavanel (OPQ) was the first to give it a go. The French time-trial champion was to be rapidly caught by 10 other escapees: Kroon, Morkov (STB), Pineau (OPQ), Smukulis (KAT), Bodrogi (TT1), Gerard (FDJ), De Kort (ARG), Talabardon (SAU) and Hepburn (OGE).
Fast pace through the Beauce area
This first attempt proved to be the good one. Indeed the 11 breakaway riders saw their gap over the pack grow rapidly. They could enjoy a 4’50 advantage after a very fast first hour of racing (50.6 kilometres covered). Behind, the chase was being organised by teams AG2R, Vacansoleil and Garmin, failing to have riders in the breakaway and the gap started dropping. At Amboise, the front group broke up and seven men remained in the lead (Pineau, Bodrogi, Kelderman and Hepburn dropped behind). The pack however moved closer, 2’ adrift. One of the main actors of the first week at this year’s Tour de France, Michael Morkov, decided to take off on his own with under 40 kilometres to go while all his former breakaway companions were caught up by the chasing pack at km 201.
Final explanation in the hills around Tours
Eventually a group of 7 counter-attackers: Marcato (VCD), Terpstra (OPQ), Curvers (ARG), Berard (ALM), De Vreese (TSV), Turgot (EUR) and Pichon (BSC) managed to pull away in the last hills of the course and caught up with the leader. A second decisive move occurred in the final 10kms when Marcato pulled away, taking with him De Vreese and Terpstra. While a group of favourites including title-holder Van Avermaet (BMC), Degenkolb (ARG), Leukemans (VCD) and Fuglsang (RNT) managed to take off from the pack in the last hill (Cote de l’Epan, km 7), it was looking good for the front three, enjoying a 15” advantage with five kilometres to go. Despite the efforts of the chasers, the leaders had a good enough lead to battle it out between each-other on the final Avenue de Grammont straight.
Revenge for Marcato
After a powerful sprint, Italy’s Marco Marcato crossed the line in victorious fashion, only just beating De Vreese and Terpstra. Second of Paris-Tours last year, the Vacansoleil rider captures the biggest win of his career, so far.