The third round of the Coupe de France took place this Sunday, which is also Easter Day, for the 19th edition of La Roue Tourangelle (1.1, 04/04). The 204 kilometers through the Center-Val de Loire region included a total of 10 KOM, eight of which featured in the last hour of the race. At kilometer 173, the riders would even have to face the cobbled section of La Durandière, called the "golden kilometer", inaugurated in 2019 as a nod to the Flanders classics organized concomitantly.
Just like in Cholet-Pays de Loire the week before, the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux team decided to place Jasper De Plus at the front of the peloton to control the gap with the early morning breakaway, in view of a potential bunch sprint finish in Tours. Thanks to the work of the Belgian, supported later by Jérémy Bellicaud, Ludwig De Winter and Kévin Van Melsen, the advantage of the five fugitives never fluctuated beyond 2 minutes.
This classic racing scenario was disrupted for a while after a counter from Nans Peters (Ag2r), around 40 kilometers from the finish, and as the final eight short climbs were about to start. Once the attackers were caught by the peloton 25 kilometers from the finish, a new group of seven strongmen had created a small gap, but a regroup took place at the entrance of Tours, with eight kilometers remaining.
About thirty riders therefore competed for the victory of this year's Roue Tourangelle, and it was the French champion Arnaud Démare who won the sprint after more than five hours of racing. Andrea Pasqualon punctuated a solid collective performance by taking seventh place.
“We have changed our mindset this year, because we are a World Tour team and we have to take the race in hand. That's what we did today, with Jasper De Plus among others leading the pack, to play the sprint card with me and Riccardo Minali. We did an excellent teamwork to control the breakaways and communicate our feelings to each other. When Arnaud Démare accelerated on the last climb, Riccardo lost contact and I understood that it would be up to me to get a result. I did everything to resist and managed to hang on in the peloton to sprint. Unfortunately, I entered the home stretch in seventh place, which is not ideal, but I managed not to be overtaken. For about twenty days, I have had to deal with a persistent cough, and that is why I had to give up the idea of participating in the Tour of Flanders. It is impossible to challenge for the win today if you are not at 100%, I must therefore be satisfied with this top 10. But I fully intend to return to the top in May, where I hope to compete in the Giro, after a training camp with the team. "
La Roue Tourangelle :
66.Riccardo Minali +1:59
80.Jasper De Plus +3:34
105.Ludwig De Winter +8:11
DNF Kévin Van Melsen