21 September 2015
Anyone who thinks that the north of France is flat and lacking any difficulties at all should come see the Grand Prix dIsbergues to understand just how wrong they are. Over a hilly course today, the riders struggled to remain in the main peloton when the climbs were attacked at a frantic pace. But in spite of the stiff speed up the ascents and the 204 kilometer distance, Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) was more than a match. The French sprinting ace overcame any opposition in the bunch sprint where only the most determined had a chance to win. And in this contest, IAM Cyclings Belgian sprinter Jonas Van Genechten came through with a convincing sixth place. Having started this race with multiple cards to play in case of a sprint finish, the Swiss professional team racked up its 238th Top-10.
Though Jonas Van Genechten didnt grab the victors bouquet Sunday night, he did take away armfuls of confidence ahead of his next goal, the Eurométropole Tour taking place in his home country. I actually felt excellent at this race, the Belgian rider confided. Its been quite some time since I have felt that competitive. And especially here in Isbergues, I felt that I had that little something extra. But of course, since I felt so good throughout the race, I am disappointed only to come away with a sixth place. I thought I had the legs to compete with Nacer Bouhanni until the last meters. But if I did not pull it off this time, I have no one but myself to blame. The team did an excellent job all day. From the beginning we took control of the race along with Cofidis, and we never budged from that position. In the end, I was a bit alone, but thats understandable since everyone had worked so hard all day long. I just missed that little bit of luck that is so essential to being able to convert good work into a victory. But I am still confident and calm. My next races will be the Eurométropole Tour and then Binche-Chimay-Binche. And I really think that this race will help my chances at those events.
After the race, Eddy Seigneur, directeur sportif for the team at Isbergues, developed a mixed picture of the teams race. Initially, we were going in with a view of protecting and working for Matteo Pelucchi in the final sprint, Seigneur explained. Thats because we believed he had at least as good of a chance at the victory as Bouhanni had. Unfortunately, Matteo was missing a bit of form, since he hasnt really raced since the Tour of Poland, considering he crashed out of the Vuelta early in the second stage. In other words, his chances for victory had already been somewhat compromised, especially considering the relatively hard climbs they would face today. So we had to change our strategy a little, and decided to stake everything on Jonas Van Genechten. I am satisfied because he did get a very nice sixth place for the day. And we have to consider that it was not easy for him to get such a good result over this challenging course. The sort of climbs we had today required a lot of manpower to support him, so in the final meters he was a bit on his own, given that his teammates had worked so hard for him beforehand. So under these circumstances, this is a very encouraging result.