- It was a great race again, we tried to put full pressure on the other teams until the end. It was a fast start, a lot of teams had plans for an attack. We had Tanel Kangert in the front, that was good for us. There was a lot of stress and fighting for the right position. A big thank you to the team as they protected me along the way. When we hit the local circuit the fun began, I attacked but got caught. But in the final kilometer I tried it again on the small hill, but with 500 meter to go I got caught again. We wanted to win the team classification, so I think we can leave the race proud. We had a strong ride here. A great team and a great week, I’m happy with this result. - Hugo Houle.
The fifth and final stage of the Tour Poitou-Charentes en Nouvelle Aquitaine started in Brioux-sur-Boutonne and finished in Poitiers after 156.6 kilometer of racing. Right from the start, a group of seven riders including Tane Kangert, took off to form the day’s breakaway. This group gained a maximum advantage of around five minutes on the pack. Going into the local circuit, Hugo Houle attacked to fight for a GC podium, but he got caught not much later by the controlling team of race leader Arnaud Demare.
In today’s final, the breakaway including Kangert got caught by the peloton just at the start of the final hill before the finish line. The best young rider of the race attacked there, and Hugo Houle bridged the gap shortly after. They tried to stay clear from the bunch sprint, but with only 500 meters to go, they got caught by the chasing peloton. Arnaud Demare sprinted to his fifth victory in four days, winning the general classification. Hugo Houle claimed his fourth place overall, Sergei Chernetskii climbed one place finishing eighth overall. After being second in the Team Classification after stage 4, the riders of Astana Pro Team took back the lead and the final victory after today’s final stage.
- I think we fulfilled our ambitions for this race. We were looking for a top 5 in the GC. Hugo Houle was a surprise with his performance, he improved a lot and showed that he was a good leader in this race. He did a great time trial and tried it again today to win a stage. And winning the Team Classification proves we have a great team here. Besides Houle, Sergei Chernetskii and Tanel Kangert also showed themselves and the other riders did their job protecting them. So I can say, we did a good job here. – Lars Michaelsen.
Photo credit: Bettiniphoto