A week after an epic battle on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, the riders of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux had to deal with the unpaved roads through the vineyards of Paris-Tours (1.Pro, 10/10) this Sunday. Introduced in 2018, the nine sectors of dirt were accompanied by seven short climbs, all spread over the last 50 kilometers of the race.
If the crossing from Chartres to the first gravel sector seemed relatively gentle on paper, the wind prompted the creation of echelons 100 kilometers from the finish. A group of 35 riders broke away from the bunch, catching the early breakaway of three riders some ten kilometers later. Among the riders in the first echelon of the race were sprinter Danny van Poppel, winner of Binche-Chimay-Binche last Tuesday, accompanied by Belgian Loïc Vliegen.
A new leading trio formed at the start of the vineyard sectors, while the pursuit group was reinforced by around twenty riders from the initial peloton. Alongside van Poppel and Vliegen, Belgian Tom Devriendt and Italian Andrea Pasqualon maintained their place in the second stage of the race before the decision was made in the penultimate vineyard sector of Peu Morier (1.6 km), also the longest of the event.
The ten kilometers which separated the last obstacle from the finish line saw an intense pursuit of four riders, from which emanated van Poppel and Pasqualon: the two fast men of the selection led by Hilaire Van der Schueren rallied Tours in 5th and 8th positions respectively. The Dutchman concludes his impressive season with his seventeenth top 5 in 2021.