In front of his crowd, Valentin Madouas was obviously verymotivated this Sunday for the Bretagne Classic. The French puncher did give it a go into Plouay, after an aggressive race in which Groupama-FDJ played its part. However, his attack on the final climb did not prove enough to make a difference. A group of about twenty men fought for the win in the sprint, and Madouas took fifteenth.

A long day in the office was on the riders’ menu this Sunday around Plouay. No less than 255 kilometres were to be covered for the 86th edition of the Bretagne Classic, but the course did not include the two gravel sectors initially planned, as they were considered too dangerous by certain teams and the UCI. However, the obstacles were still many, since about fifteen hills featured in the second part of the race. Before entering it, they had to complete some 150 kilometres andLuke Rowe (Ineos Grenadiers), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM), Yevgeniy Gidich (Astana-Qazaqstan Team), Chris Hamilton (DSM), Johan Meens (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces-WB) and Martin Urianstad (Uno-X) led the way from the breakaway. Always in control, the peloton only really paced up with seventy kilometres to go while Michael Storer and Lewis Askey perfectly kept their leaders at the front. A few minutes later, the first attacks occurred, and Kevin Geniets entered a six-man chasing group. “80from the finish, we got on small roads and we needed to anticipate, explained Benoît Vaugrenard. “Van Aert was definitely the man to beat, so the goal was to be one step ahead.” “The objective was to ride an aggressive race, because on such a circuit, it is always better to be one step ahead than one step behind,” confirmed Valentin Madouas. If you find yourself in the wrong timingyou can lose the race quickly”.

“I lacked a little something”, Valentin Madouas

Behind the rider from Luxembourg, Stefan Küng also tried to go away, but only Kevin Geniets eventually bridged across to the breakaway 45 kilometres from the line, with nine otherriders. The group enjoyed a minute lead at best, but following a flatter portion of the race, it all exploded again in the Marta climb, just over twenty-five kilometres from the finish. Geniets was distanced at the front, while Van Aert attacked in the back. Valentin Madouas followed this first move, but it was then his teammate David Gaudu who tried to take a step ahead in the downhill. The attempt proved unsuccessful, and the peloton was really reduced when crossing the finish linefor a first time, with thirteen kilometres to go. A few men were still leading the way while Valentin Madouas was very attentive in the favourites’ group. “He was a little isolated,confessed Benoît. Stefan was caught behind a crash and found himself last of the peloton, then it was complicated. He also probably did not recover fully from the Tour du Poitou-Charentes. As for Arnaud, he came a bit short physically. Always reactive to Van Aert’s moves, Valentin Madouas followed the main attacks. But when the last fugitive was caught in the climb of Lézot, the Frenchman even tried to counterattack. He managed to open a gap with Oliver Naesenand Wout Van Aert, but the rest of the “peloton” caught them a few hundred metres further.

“I think I was good physically, but I lacked a little something to be able to really go away in the final, explained Valentin. “We went all in on the last climb, but they were very strong behind”. The victory was therefore decided in a sprint, among some twenty riders, and Van Aert got the win on the line. Valentin Madouas placed fifteenth. “I wanted to wait until the last moment, but I was way too far at 500 meters, and I found myself stuck in the wheels,” he added. “Howeverwe approached the race as we should, we gave the maximum, we have no regrets. We would have liked to do a better performance, but that’s the way it is. “We are obviously disappointed because we came here with other ambitions, and we did not play the role we wanted to play, but that’s part of the race”, concluded Benoît.