Sorensen Wins Grand Prix d'Ouverture La Marseillaise
Nicki Sorensen (CSC) has won the first race on the French calendar. The Dane took a 19-rider sprint to win the 128.3-km Grand Prix d?Ouverture La Marseillaise in 3:20:40. Teammate Vladimir Gusev finished second, and Daniele Masolino (LPR) took third.
A group of 20 riders took an early flyer. The escapees forged a 10-minute lead before Jens Voigt (CSC), Philippe Gilbert (La Francaise des Jeux), Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom), and Wim Van Huffel (Lotto) surged into the lead with 40 km left. With nine km remaining, Van Huffel and Gilbert attacked. Voigt, who had stomach cramps, could not follow.
With less than four km left, the two leaders had 0:30 on a five-rider chase group, and 15 other riders were not far behind the quintet. At a roundabout, however, the leaders were misdirected and went left instead of right. Nineteen riders fought out the finish, and Sorensen won.
The turn of events angered Lotto team director Marc Sergeant. ?The organization acts as if nothing happened,? Sergeant said, ?but Wim could have won today. Now he?s got nothing. It is necessary to ride this race at the start of the season, but the organization is poor.?
Sorensen stated that the finish was confusing, ?and it all got a bit hectic. There were two riders who attacked shortly before the end, and they would?ve probably made it if they hadn?t taken a wrong turn. The group I was in was led through the same roundabout twice, and it was all very chaotic. But I won, and that?s the main thing.? Indeed it is!
Many of these riders will face off in the Etoile de Besseges, the season?s first stage race. How will they fare? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!