They believed in it until the end. The Cofidis riders showed this Sunday afternoon on the circuit of Cholet how strong a team they are and how strong the links between them are. On the podium in the morning, all the riders of the northern team were holding each other by the shoulders. United for the photo and united on the road. Until the end, Cofidis showed a great collective strategy and only let the victory slip away for a few centimeters. Here is a look back at a race in which they gave their all.
Actors from start to finish
Before the final, they had to resist to the 12 laps in the streets of Cholet, the 240 km to be covered and to know how to anticipate the moves collectively. And this is what the Cofidis team did throughout the race. From the first kilometres, Alexandre Delettre was part of the breakaway group that had a lead of up to 2 min 30 seconds.
With around 50 km to go, the team tightened the race and reduced the lead of the frontrunners. Rémy Rochas, Thomas Champion, Hugo Toumire, Eddy Finé and Victor Lafay took turns to lead the peloton. Then, it was Anthony Pérez who answered an attack. The breakaway was caught again with 30 km to go, in the penultimate lap and the race started to come alive.
When Benjamin Thomas leads Axel Zingle
The Cofidis team remained well placed at the front of the peloton with six riders including Eddy Finé, Bryan Coquard, François Bidard and Guillaume Martin. Then, with 11 km to go, Anthony Pérez accelerates again before being followed by Benjamin Thomas. For a long time, the rider from Tarn holds on to the lead with Florian Sénéchal.
In the last 3 kilometres, they are joined by a trio including Axel Zingle. Finally, Benjamin led Axel who started his sprint in the last 200 meters before being overtaken on the line. Despite the disappointment of not having won the race, the team can be proud of its collective performance, while waiting for the start of the Tour de France next Friday in Copenhagen.
Axel Zingle (3rd): "We said at the briefing yesterday that our ambition was to win. I'm really disappointed and I apologise for the team: I was in an ideal position with Benjamin (Thomas) in front. Unfortunately, I never managed to recover even when I was in his wheels. Maybe I was presumptuous to start the sprint with 200 meters to go. I didn't have the legs to hold on. The disappointment is for me but especially for the whole team who worked hard all day. We were up against experienced and very strong riders. But when you look at our day, you can't have any regrets".
Benjamin Thomas (5th): "I was really good in the final. We were ideally placed by Anthony (Pérez), Bryan (Coquard) and Axel (Zingle) were also there. I attacked with Florian Sénéchal but I was a bit short in the last 5km. He was really strong today. Then I tried to launch Axel but he lacked legs in the pack. After that, it's still a sprint after 240 km and we know Florian's qualities. On our side, we tried, we animated the race and we have no regrets. Axel is only 23 years old, these are only his first races over such long distances. He will learn and we will come back stronger!
Christian Guiberteau, team manager: "We were there to play for the title and the team gave everything to achieve it. There is inevitably some disappointment because we believed in it. We knew this year that we had some good cards to play for victory. Physically and strategically, the team rose to the challenge. It's a circuit where you have to play by ear. If the victory had been at the end, we would have praised the collective performance of Cofidis. Now we will analyse the race and look forward to the next races.