Vakoc makes the double in France
After winning Classic Sud-Ardèche on Saturday, the 23-year-old came out on top also in Drôme Classic.
Petr Vakoč put an end to his February campaign in a fantastic way, by becoming the first rider to take the victory in both Classic Sud-Ardèche and Drôme Classic, two hilly races that were very much to the Czech champion's liking. Once again, he delivered at the finish, after another excellent day of the team, which had our riders stay at the head of the peloton, controlling the gap of the four escapees: Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R), Jérémy Cornu (Direct Energie), Guillaume Levarlet (HP-BTP Auber 93) and Anthony Perez (Cofidis).
In the final 30 kilometers of the Drôme Classic (Livron – Livron, 203.8 km), the break was reabsorbed, and as soon as that happened, David De La Cruz accelerated from the pack and got a small gap together with Arnold Jeannesson (Cofidis) and Pierre-Roger Latour (AG2R). Unfortunately for David, it was to no avail, because they were caught on a climb by the chasing group, which included Gianluca Brambilla. The latter was also in the mix, reacting to an attack of Romain Bardet (AG2R) on the last hill, but they too were joined by others.
From the second group, Jan Bakelants (AG2R) used the final climb of the race as springboard and was quickly followed by Petr Vakoč. The two worked hard and caught the riders at the front, then passed right by them and fought for the victory in a two-man sprint, which saw Petr come out on top, taking back-to-back wins for the first time in his career. Arthur Vichot (FDJ) rounded out the podium, while another Etixx – Quick-Step rider, Pieter Serry, finished 5th.
“I am extremely happy to score another victory, 24 hours after the one in Classic Sud-Ardèche. It’s really incredible. Once again, the race was hard, with narrow roads, which forced us to be at all times at the front, fighting for a good position. When Bakelants attacked, I jumped immediately into his wheel and we managed to catch the group at the front and leave those riders behind. I knew the finale and it was very important to enter first in that last corner. Bakelants anticipated me and was the first to go into that corner, but I found the power to come back and outsprint him in the final 50 meters”, said Petr Vakoč before climbing to the podium.
The Czech rider, who is poised to make his Strade Bianche debut next week-end, continued: "If yesterday I was under pressure, today I was more relaxed. Everything went as planned and we were in the thick of the action during the whole race, with the likes of David, Pieter and Gianluca. The team was fantastic yet again. I'm very satisfied for becoming the first rider to do the Classic Sud-Ardèche – Drôme Classic double. These wins come after my hard training in the off-season. I worked relentlessly in order to be competitive in the first part of the season and I'm happy that it all paid off very early this year."
Photo credit: ©Etienne Garnier