Huge victory in Mantes-la-Jolie
Breton rider from Movistar Team claims surprise victory in against dominant FDJ with intelligent race, crowned with splendid solo attack at 5km before finish.
Aude Biannic (Movistar Team) offered this Saturday at Mantes-la-Jolie, venue of the women’s French road race championships for pros, elite and under-23 competitors -104km, five laps into a rolling circuit-, the best display of talent and powerful yet from one of the most solid rouleurs in the Telefónica-backed squad and the entire WorldTour peloton.
The Breton cyclist, riding alone into a peloton with 125 contenders and a dominant lineup from FDJ (eight members), always rode on the attack. Being able to stay into the selected, 25-woman selection after the third lap, Biannic played her cards intelligently by waiting for the final turn. She firstly went after a dangerous attack including Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (CSR) and Audrey Cordon-Ragot (WHT), winner of Thursday’s ITT champs (where Aude finished 4th). She then tried to go alone with 10km remaining, being caught by Anabelle Dreville (LTS) and the entire peloton afterwards. And finally, with 5k left, she went on a third, decisive attack, which the pace by FDJ couldn’t bring back.
Biannic’s victory is the 13th in 2018 for the Jorge Sanz-led squad, which had claimed impressive results over the National Championships held for the last two weeks in Europe: five titles in six races, with double titles in Poland (Jasinska) and Spain (Merino -RR- and García -TT-) to be added to Aude’s success, as much unexpected as brilliant. All of that, before the Blues’ biggest stagerace of the year: the Giro Rosa, starting next Friday.
REACTION / Aude Biannic:
“I’m so happy and full of emotions with this victory! I’m going to enjoy this so much, because such great feelings aren’t something you go through everyday. I had already been French champion as a junior ten years ago, but today’s victory is another completely different thing. Being able to wear this jersey for the next 12 months in the biggest races of the calendar will be a huge pride for me.
“I’m what you’d call a ‘domestique’, one who always works for a team-mate, and I’m neither a great climber nor a real sprinter; I’ve got some speed in my legs but I knew that I’d stand less of a chance into a sprint, and I needed to reach the finish alone. It wasn’t easy for me, either, because I was racing alone against the whole bunch, especially FDJ, which proved to be really strong. I played all cards I held, and I think this strategy paid off really well! (smiles)
“Ferrand-Prévot went strong on the attack and built a gap before the final lap, and I held some doubts about her being caught, but FDJ did a massive job at the front of the peloton to bring her back. It was a pretty flat course and that might have hurt her chances. I had chosen to save all energies for the final lap and left everything on the road into those attacks. I just didn’t want to leave the race with a feeling of not having done everything I could. I jumped again with five kilometers to go, into a technical section after getting caught from a previous attack, and even if FDJ pushed hard to lead Roxane Fournier out, I didn’t hesitate to continue pushing, gave it my all and was able to reach the finish solo.”
Picture (c): Thomas Maheux