Wallays, five years after!
October 13 th 2019 - 18:15
Winner of Paris-Tours back in 2014, Jelle Wallays (LTS) managed to conquer yet another victory on the French classic but on a course far different to the one of his first triumph. The Belgian took off with over fifty kilometres to go on the first of nine “vine tracks” on the menu. He then managed to stay clear of the group of favourites before winning with a comfortable lead over Niki Terpstra (TDE) et Oliver Naesen (ALM).
For the final road race on French territory of the cycling season, 151 riders gathered in the pretty city of Chartres, under a bright sunshine for the 113th edition of Paris-Tours. Taking off just before noon, six riders gave it a go in the early moments of the race but the strong headwind condemned their attempt rapidly. Ten kilometres later, three riders, Dowsett (TKA), Nielsen (RIW) and De Vos (RLY) tried their luck enjoying a decent advantage.
THREE AND THEN SEVEN IN THE LEAD
While going through Bonneval (km 30) the situation changed considerably. Dowsett stopped his efforts and five other riders managed to power away from the pack and bridged the gap on the escapees. Seven riders led the way: Molly, Paaschens (WVA), Nielsen (RIW), De Vos (RLY), Hurel (AUB), Dernies and Leroux (NRL).
The situation remained the same and the front riders enjoyed a maximum 4’15’’ lead at km 45. As the riders entered Vendôme, the peloton broke into several groups under the influence of teams Groupama-FDJ, Total Direct Energie and Vital Concept BnB Hotels. The gap dropped down dramatically and the breakaway was finally caught by a group of around forty riders at km 106. A first selection of title contenders had been done. While riders such as Cavendish or Van Asbroeck were dropped, all the main favourites including title holder Soren Kragh Andersen (SUN) but also Démare (GFC), Naesen (AGR) and Terpstra (TDD) remained in the leading group.
OFF GOES THE TITLE HOLDER
At km 146, the winner of the 2018 edition decided to take off on his own. Kragh Andersen was soon to be caught by Boy Van Poppel (ROC) just ten kilometres before the first gravel track as both men enjoyed a 40” advantage. On the climb up the Côte de Goguenne, Van Poppel failed to keep up with his breakaway companion and Jelle Wallays (LTS) winner of the race in 2014 counter-attacked. At the exit of “vine path” n°8, the leading rider had a 35’’ gap over Wallays and 50” over a slim peloton.
WALLAYS ALONE IN THE LEAD
On the following track, bad luck hit Kragh Andersen who suffered a puncture. The Sunweb leader was caught and rapidly dropped by the main group of favourites at km 179 while Wallays saw his lead grow to 1’25” after sector n°6. Despite the many attacks in the chasing group, the Belgian maintained a consistent gap. With 15kms to go it reached 1’30”.
On the final climb of the day, the Côte de Rochecorbon (10kms from the finish), Wallays hadn’t lost any time on the chasing 11 men. Two men then decided to take off on a final counter-attack: Naesen (ALM) and Terpstra (TDE). But with 5kms to go Wallays could still count on a promising 55” lead. The Belgian stayed clear of the chasing duo and victoriously crossed the finish line with close to 40” on Terpstra and Naesen, second and third. Five years after what was then his greatest victory, Wallays triumphs again.