Circuit de la Sarthe (day two)
Alex Dowsett claims second victory over 6.8km La Sarthe time trial course, leads GC as Blues (15 wins in 2017) take one-two with Castroviejo, Bennati also strong in 4th place
The Movistar Team’s strength against the clock was evident again on Wednesday as the Blues owned the 6.8km ITT in Angers, France, closing day two of the Circuit Cycliste de la Sarthe, held through Friday. Three of the riders directed by José Luis Laguía made the first four places in the afternoon’s racing, as Briton Alex Dowsett won by 8” against team-mate Jonathan Castroviejo (2nd) and put 10” on Arthur Vichot (FDJ, 3rd), tied with a remarkable Daniele Bennati (4th).
The telephone squad’s brilliant performance -which takes them up to 15 victories in 2017, by six different riders- comes with a yellow jersey for Dowsett, who will have a very short gap to defend -2” against Vichot; ‘Castro’ and ‘Benna’ sit third and fourth- and a tough course to tackle on Thusday. The six climbs to Avaloirs at Pré-en-Pail’s closing circuit (190km) will surely decide the GC outcome; the race, though -and just like in 2014 (Dowsett win) and 2015 (Malori-Dowsett 1-2)-, looks as Blue as usual recently.
Alex Dowsett: “They moved the start some meters further up the road, and that was basically the difference in time compared to three years ago, but I definitely was faster than back in the time. Expecting such a victory? Well, I felt OK over the last couple of days, but it’s always difficult on a double day, as you’re getting tired in the morning and then, in the afternoon, you have to manage your energy well. The FDJ riders had been doing well in the past, but I knew Castro would be the main competitor. He usually beats me at time trials, but when it’s shorter I stand a better chance. It’s a circuit that suits me. I’ve done it three times now, I’ve won it twice and came second to Malori in 2015. It brings me joy to keep constant form over the early season, after all the problems I had to go through with shoulder injury last year. I did good job at Tirreno and Milan-San Remo, and I could profit from that opportunity today as well.
"It’s obviously great to have both of us 1-2, and Bennati almost making it third. It’s a good sign for tomorrow. I'll fight as hard as I can to keep the yellow jersey. We’ve got a good team to support us tomorrow, not only Castro and myself, also Bennati, who’s got lots of experience and does well at short climbs, plus Arcas, Betancur and Barbero, who are going strong all week. FDJ should be our biggest competition, especially Vichot, who will be super motivated. It won’t be easy, but we will do the best we can. This victory could only go to Malori. He won two years ago and couldn’t forget about him. We always think about his recovery and we hope things to keep going well for him.”
Picture ©: Circuit de la Sarthe