A rainbow on the horizon for Gaviria


The 110th edition of Paris-Tours looked very promising at the start of the race in Dreux. The "classic of the fallen leaves", a dress rehearsal for next week's World Championships, was drawn for a sprinter, and while a fast man did prevail at the end of the 252.5 km race, few could have foreseen the way it unfolded. Indeed, today a sprinter foiled the sprinters. Etixx-Quick-Step's Colombian phenomenon Fernando Gaviria exploited a fleeting deceleration in the peloton to sneak away and grab victory on the Avenue de Grammont in Tours. Frenchman Arnaud Démare took second place ahead of Belgian Jonas Van Genechten.

Great fanfare for the start in Dreux
The 188-strong peloton of the 110th Paris–Tours rolled out under the sunny autumn sky. The world's top sprinters congregated near the Royal Chapel in Dreux, host to the start of the "classic of the falling leaves" for the first time, for one final confrontation before next week's World Championships in Qatar. French sprinters, playing at home today, bathed in the adoration of the numerous fans who came out to cheer them. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits) and Arnaud Démare (FDJ), who will be French national team's ace cards next week, were particularly sought after, but even they had to share the limelight with other big names of world cycling, including Mark Cavendish. The Briton was "glad to be back in France" after racking up four stage wins in July. A timid breeze awaited today's heroes on their 252.5 km ride to Tours' legendary Avenue de Grammont.
Seven brave men and a wary peloton
The pancake-flat course failed to deter attacks from the drop of the flag, with lots of riders eager to show themselves at the front of a race celebrating its 120th anniversary. The hectic pace of the first few minutes strung out the peloton and, at times, caused splits. A seven-man group went off the front after about 20 km, with Arnaud Gérard (Fortuneo–Vital Concept) dragging Floris Gerts (BMC Racing Team), Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling), Biran van Goethem (Roompot Oranje Peloton), Kévin Lebreton (Armée de Terre), Maarten Wynants (Team Lotto - Jumbo) and French climber Warren Barguil (Team Giant – Alpecin)  along in his third Paris–Tours breakaway. The 2′20″ gap at km 37 sparked a swift reaction in the peloton, with Tom Boonen and Fernando Gaviria's Etixx–Quick-Step teammates leading the chase. Cofidis, Solutions Crédits, FDJ, Lotto–Soudal and Sky worked together to ensure the difference never exceeded 4′20″. Warren Barguil had no trouble rejoining the breakaway after a mechanical, but back in the main group the heightened pace set by the sprinters' teams spooked the peloton and caused many snags. The leader of Roompot–Oranje Peloton, Dutchman Maurits Lammertink, was among those who hit the deck. The odds on a mass sprint shortened dramatically as the gap dwindled to just 40 seconds with 27 km to go.
Gaviria, the wily young fox
The breakaway started to fracture under the pressure of the bunch, with Kevin Lebreton the first to crack after a strenuous effort. Team Katusha's Sergey Lagutin and Giant–Alpecin's Bert De Backer launched a counterattack when the early breakaway was caught with 14 km to go, but their 10-second gap with 9 km to go only bought them four more kilometres. A mass sprint seemed inevitable, but Etixx–Quick-Step's Fernando Gaviria had other plans. The Colombian exploited a fleeting deceleration at the front of the bunch to open up the gas at the very start of the Avenue de Grammont, 800 metres from the line. His opponents left it for too late and could only watch as Gaviria powered away with his hands on the handlebar hoods to claim the first Paris–Tours victory by an American rider. Arnaud Démare was the best of the rest, while Belgian Jonas Van Genechten marked IAM Cycling's final race with a nice podium spot. The wily young fox, Gaviria, was all smiles after his stunning coup ahead of the Worlds in Qatar. The sprint prodigy showed that talent knows no age… Even the winner of Paris–Tours Espoirs, Dutchman Arvid de Kleijn, is older!

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