John Degenkolb (GER) has closed his season in style with a win in the 107th Paris-Tours Elite, his sixth victory of the season.
Four riders formed the break of the day: Julien Duval (Roubaix – Lille Métropole), Yannick Martinez (La Pomme Marseille), Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling) and Sebastian Lander (BMC). Their advantage grew to more than 11 minutes, but the gap came down quickly when the sprint teams started to chase. Saramotins tried to stay away on his own at the end, but with 10 km to go he was reeled back into the bunch.
Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil) attacked in the finale, taking Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) and Degenkolb with him. Then Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), Michael Morkov (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Jetse Bol (Belkin) connected at the head of the race. When this group was caught by the larger bunch, Bol took his chance and rode solo into the final kilometer. He was unable to stay away, however, as sprinters’ teams were in full chase.
It was Degenkolb who managed the chaotic sprint in his favor to take the win. Morkov (DEN) finished second and Demaré (FRA) completed the podium.
“It’s really nice to finish the season like this,” said coach Christian Guiberteau. “Last year John just missed out on the win, but today was superb. He raced a really classy race. He was the top favorite, and that’s not an easy position to be in, but he was always in control in the finale and no one could stop him in the end.
“We had to control the break during the race. The boys did a fantastic job, and in the finale the team was there again at the right moment to support John. It was a very strong team performance, and John was obviously strong as well to be able to take the sprint like he did. Tours must be good luck for us—Marcel also won a stage here during the Tour de France this year.”
“It was a fast and hectic race,” said Degenkolb. “The situation was always changing. We had a good plan and I think we rode a smart race. There was always someone from our team in the important groups, and there was always someone to take responsibility for the chase.
“When everything came together and it was clear that we were heading for a bunch sprint, there was one rider from Belkin still off the front, and it was up to our team to bring him back. It was not easy, but the guys were really strong, and we did it and were ready to sprint.
“This is a big highlight in my career and it means a lot to me. I showed again that I can handle the one-day classics very well, and this is now the next step after the win in the Vattenfall Cyclassics Hamburg.
“Thanks to the team for their excellent support today. This was my last race of the season, and I can’t think of a better way to end the season.”