A top-10 spot officially launched the Groupama-FDJ’s 2020 season this Tuesday morning in Australia. Marc Sarreau took eighth in a chaotic sprint in Tanunda on the opening stage of the Tour Down Under, won by the Irishman Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step).
Today’s breakaway was formed after fifteen kilometers and included three Australians riders, Dylan Sunderland (NTT), Michael Storer (Sunweb) and Jarrad Drizners (UniSA-Australia), as well as the American Joey Rosskopf (CCC). “There were time bonuses in the beginning of the stage, explains Jussi Veikkanen. Mitchelton-Scott wants to go for the general classification and they showed it already. So they made sure of keeping things together and Impey got his time bonus. Then the morning breakaway could go. It went pretty much as we expected although the breakaway was reeled in earlier than what we thought, with more than thirty kilometers to go.”
“We need to find the right set-up” J. Veikkanen
Last man on the attack, Rosskopf then let the sprinter teams’ battle take place in the final. Groupama-FDJ’s lead-out train waited until the last three kilometers to move up Marc Sarreau in the front, in the wake of Mickaël Delage. But as the battle for positions went chaotic, the door closed on Sarreau in the last hundred meters. “We were up there, says Jussi. There was a lot of motivation from the guys but they haven’t race much together, with Jacopo Guarnieri being added this time and Fabian Lienhard being new in the team. Everyone has done a good job today but we still need to find the right set-up and that only comes with racing. We weren’t able to work on it on Sunday and we could testify today. Still, the motivation is high!”
Although he couldn’t properly express himself today, Marc Sarreau was reassured on his shape and “was not bothered” from his crash that happened in Sunday’s criterium. As the rest of the team, he is now looking at the Stirling stage and its slight uphill finish tomorrow. “We did a recon of the whole stage, said Jussi. It’s a well-known course on the Tour Down Under. The last time we did it, two years ago, Caleb Ewan won. Four years ago, Jay McCarthy won. It’s not an easy course and the outcome will depend on the willingness of some teams to get rid of the pure sprinters. Our goal remains to bring Marc as far as possible.”