The three-time World Cyclo-Cross Champion felt at home on the hilly and rain-soaked parcours of the French race.
Quick-Step Floors extended their advantage at the top of the World Tour team classification, which our squad will lead for the 23rd consecutive week, thanks to Zdenek Stybar and Fabio Jakobsen, who both finished in the top 10 of the 256.9km-long Bretagne Classic, a race that saw the peloton take on several dirt roads sectors and a plethora of hills, including the Côte de Ty Marrec, the decisive climb at the last World Road Championships held in France, nearly two decades ago.
Despite a seven-man breakaway taking off early in the race, it was with 60 kilometers to go that the race got properly ignited, when a 14-man group took off, just as the peloton was preparing to overhaul the long-day escapees. Winner of the points jersey at the BinckBank Tour, Zdenek Stybar got infiltrated in the move that in the blink of an eye put more than a minute between them and the bunch, whose hopes of bringing them back were deterred by the pouring rain and cold temperatures of Bretagne, which impacted on the race more than expected.
Some 15 kilometers from the finish, three men extricated themselves from the lead group which by that point had been reduced to just six riders and went on to fight for the win, Oliver Naesen (AG2R) being the one who prevailed in the end. Stybar managed to hold off the pack, coming across the line in sixth, while just a handful of seconds later, Fabio Jakobsen won the peloton's sprint, notching up his second top 10 result in the space of just three days, after taking sixth in the Great War Remembrance Race.
"It was another tough and long race. Our team was always near the front and moved to the fore with Tim and Eros, who rode full gas before hitting the dirt roads, where the bunch split. I immediately jumped and went into the break, where I was joined by quite a large number of riders. We kept a high pace before some of the guys attacked on the final lap", Zdenek Stybar said after the finish in Plouay. "Unfortunately, I hesitated a bit when the trio went away and that cost me in the end. It's disappointing, because I felt good and could have won for victory, but there's nothing to be done now."
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