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Paris Tours - time for Degenkolb?
Sept 26th, 12. The sprinters will battle the opportunists at next weekend's Paris Tours - can John Degenkolb add a classic's win to his growing palmares?
And the battle continues.
The sprinters come face to face on several occasions throughout the season, which all offer opportunities for revenge or serve as confirmation.
At Paris-Tours, the heavyweights on the final stretch are often ambushed by would-be assailants either close-up or from further away. They have paid the price for this, for example in 2011 with the noteworthy initiative of Greg Van Avermaet.
The Belgian rider now has his title at stake and will have to be even more audacious to prevent a mass sprint on the avenue de Grammont, this coming Sunday 7 October, 235 kilometres after having left Châteauneuf-en-Thymerais (Eure-et-Loir).
Among the registered candidates, promising newcomer to the discipline John Degenkolb is showing sufficient signs of success to aim at sealing a first victory in a great classic.
The year has already got off to a good start for the speedster of the Argos-Shimano team with success at the Four Days of Dunkirk and the Tour de Picardie. This continued with a veritable festival on the Vuelta where he won 5 stages before taking fourth place at the World Championship in Valkenburg.
Degenkolb could, nevertheless, be thwarted by the French clan where talk of the sprint is intensifying. On the shoulders of Nacer Bouhanni, the tricolour French National Champion's jersey was firmly embedded in the top 5 of 5 stages on the Vuelta and he is once again expected to find himself at the forefront of the photo finish.
It may transpire that Adrien Petit, another of the discipline's great hopes, manages to get a place too. But the experienced Jimmy Casper will certainly have a role to play. All regulars in this domain, the Belgian riders will have a say in it, with several generations being represented: Gert Steegmans will have to keep close tabs on his younger compatriots Sep VanMarcke and Gianni Meersman who performed very well on the roads of Spain.
25 TEAMS: THE MAIN COMPETITORS (on 25/09)
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