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GP de Denain

Adrien Petit (3rd) rewards a superb team effort

This Thursday, the Belgian World Team raced on the roads of the Grand Prix de Denain (1.Pro, 17/03), a classic of exactly 200 kilometer in the Porte du Hainaut region with twelve cobble sections in the second race half. 

Behind the breakaway of five riders which escaped in the first race hour, Hugo Page launched a solo counterattack in the third cobble section Maing-Querenaing, the longest one of the race (2500 meter). The 20 year old Frenchman caught the dropped riders from the breakaway and managed to continue his effort until the seventh section, with 46 kilometer to go.

Immediately afterwards, Page joined his teammates who had taken control of the peloton and forced a merger of all escapees and the bunch on the beginning of the eighth cobble section. The whole team under the direction of Steven De Neef and Hilaire Van der Schueren then chased a new breakaway of five riders on the section of Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon – Maing. 

The final 25 kilometer showed an intense chase behind the five riders. The gap was maintained at 25 seconds thanks to the Belgian team, the best represented in the reduced peloton despite the crash of Taco van der Hoorn. The pulls of Kévin Van Melsen, Hugo Page, Julius Johansen and Dimitri Claeys resulted in a merger with the breakaway under the red flag.

Adrien Petit was the first one to launch his effort with 300 meter to go. After a powerful sprint, the rider from Arras finished third, his best result in eight participations. In this way, Petit took the second podium for the Belgian World Team. His compatriot Page finished in the top fifteen despite his numerous efforts.

« When we realized that the cobble sections didn't provoke an important selection and that the wind didn't blow in the right direction, we chose to play my card. My teammates did a great job to reduce the gap with the five leaders in the final, I didn't want to disappoint them. In the final hectometers I came from the back and used my speed to launch my sprint. I probably started my effort too early because I think I had the legs to win, but I'am happy that I could reward the team with this podium. I lost the habit of focusing on a result for myself as I really love my job as a lead out rider. Last winter, we thoroughly reflected on whether it was preferable to add this GP de Denain to my programme in view of Paris-Roubaix or to accompany Alexander Kristoff in the Italian classics. In the end, I'm happy that all of this resulted in such a nice result, in front of my home crowd! »

« It was a fantastic day racing with this solid and cohesive team, the podium of Adrien Petit was the cherry on the cake! Personally, I’m satisfied about my contribution to the team work, especially because I wasn’t feeling 100% until a couple of days ago. My counterattack was the fruit of a hazard, I had a gap on a cobble section and continued my effort to anticipate. We were strongly represented in the final and that’s why we were confident in the hypothesis of a group sprint. Our team had the capabilities to win today and I’m proud about that. My next races are the Classic Loire-Atlantique and Cholet Pays de la Loire with the national team this weekend. It will be a nice opportunity to race for myself, I’m looking forward to it! »

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