Christophe Le Mevel clung onto the slopes of Montauroux to snatch overall victory away from Italian Rinaldo Nocentini in the second and final stage of the Tour du Haut Var.
The Francaise des Jeux rider attacked at the foot of the steep and narrow ascent into the finishing town and looked to have blown it as BBox’s Pierrick Fedrigo and Bert de Waele of Landbouwkrediet closed in, but rounded the final bend in pole position to win the three-way sprint.
Overnight leader Rinaldo Nocentini, meanwhile, cracked spectacularly to finish over three minutes down after a day of tireless chasing from his Ag2r team during the 200km stage.
Best British finisher was Chris Froome (Sky) in eight position, giving him ninth in the overall classification.
FRENCH SHINE ON HOME SOIL
The day’s racing was again dominated by the home teams, with Cofidis, BBox, Francaise des Jeux and new outfit Saur-Sojasun all taking a part in the proceedings to grab the yellow jersey from Ag2r and Nocentini. It was BBox Bouygues Telecom who got the ball rolling.
A roar from the small crowd gathered lower down the slopes of the climb into the appropriately-named village off Tourtour could only mean one thing: Thomas Voeckler. Sure enough, the defending champion crested the hill with a small lead over the peloton.
Team Sky’s Nicholas Portal was in hot pursuit and made contact along with four riders to quickly build a 1’30” lead. Ag2R massed at the front of the bunch and remained there for the rest of the five-hour stage, bringing back all attempts at escape.
BBOX PLAY ONE-TWO
BBox played their other card with around 15kms remaining when former French champion and Tour stage winner Pierrick Fedrigo clipped off the front alone. With Ag2r struggling, it was now FdJ and Cofidis making the running. With Fedrigo caught and just 5kms remaining, FdJ kept on the pressure and enabled Le Mevel to launch his attack on the savage climb into Montauraux.
Fedrigo’s recovery to challenge for the line was remarkable, but it was Le Mevel who took the stage and, with overnight leader Nocentini nowhere to be seen, the 2010 Haut Var.
Tour du Haut Var 2010: Stage 2
1. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) FdJ in 5-03-47
2. Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBox Bouyges Telecom at same time
3. Bert de Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
4. Cedric Pineau (Fra) Roubaix at 2secs
5. Julien el Fares (Fra) Cofidis at same time
6. Chris Sorensen (Den) Saxo Bank at 9secs
7. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 15secs
8. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 16secs
9. Yury Trofimov (Rus) Bbox at same time
10. Florian Guillou (Fra) Bretagne Schuller
Final overall classification
1. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) FdJ in 9-02-43
2. Bert de Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet at same time
3. Julien el Fares (Fra) Cofidis at 5secs
4. Cedric Pineau (Fra) Roubaix at same time
5. Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBox Bouyges Telecom at 10secs
6. Chris Sorensen (Den) Saxo Bank at 17secs
7. Florian Guillou (Fra) Bretagne Schuller at 19secs
8. Aitor Guitierrez Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel at 22secs
9. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 26secs
10. Yury Trofimov (Rus) Bbox at same time
90. Rob Partridge (GB) Endura at 19-00
93. Ben Swift (GB) Sky at 19-28
106. Ian Wilkinson (GB) Endura at 33-03
108. Evan Oliphant (GB) Endura at 47-10
Team Sky’s Sylvain Calzati leads first time into Montauroux
Ag2r lead the chase
The bunch prepare to climb…again
It’s Le Mevel from Fedrigo and De Waele
Endura: Blain, Wilkinson and Partridge stick together