As is often the case, a prologue opened the Boucles de la Mayenne on Thursday in Laval. To launch this 2024 edition, all the riders had to cover 5.4 kilometers in the early evening. In the end, Sam Watson took third place in the race against the clock, less than three seconds behind winner Benoît Cosnefroy. The British rider is already in the mix in the general classification, but a sprint will first be on the menu on Friday.

A different route to that of last year made up the prologue of the Boucles de la Mayenne on Thursday. Although the start and finish remained at “Espace Mayenne” in Laval, the route was extended by 1,300 metres for a total length of 5.4 kilometres. “The course was reasonably technical, it had quite a few corners,” explained William Green, the team’s sports director. “It also had a climb in the middle of the course then a difficult finish.” Sam Watson was the first rider from Groupama-FDJ to take on the circuit, shortly after 6:30 p.m., and he also set the team’s best time after the two hours of racing were over. “It was a really strong performance from Sam,” said William. “We knew his form was good after Dunkirk, and he displayed that straight away today. He held the second fastest time for a while behind Oliveira. Only Cosnefroy, towards the end, put him into third. It’s a solid performance, which sets us off well for the week.”

“I can be satisfied with the ride I did”, Sam Watson

Thanks to a mark of 6’51, the 22-year-old Englishman scored his second podium of the season – the first was already a prologue, on the Tour de la Provence -. “It’s a good result, only three seconds off the win,” said Sam. “I can be satisfied with the ride I did today. Because everyone is close in GC now, everyone wants to win, so I think the racing will be aggressive. The bonus seconds will also be important, but the second road stage is the hardest one on paper. It could potentially be the deciding day, and I’m looking forward to it.” “For sure, he is in a good position for GC,” William confirmed. “Stage 2 is in his favor this year with a lot more climbing than normal. We have a nice team to support him, and we also have Paul here, who is here for stage opportunities. We’re looking forward to the week.” A week like no other, including for William Green: “Marc is the one who gave me an opportunity on the team and now I am directing at his home race. It’s special and I hope to get a win for him (smiles).”

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