Sunday, August 27, 2006

GP Ouest France-Plouay

They were also racing in Brittany today at the ProTour GP Ouest France-Plouay. Last year saw a photo finish with George Hincapie taking the honors over Vincenzio Nibali. This year, to avoid another too-close decision, the race introduced another hill to the circuit that winds around and finishes in Plouay.

The race was a classic. With about 10k to go, Frank Schleck touched a wheel at the sharp end of the peloton and his crash split the group but good. Popovych (Disco), Fletcher (RAB), Nibali (LIQ) and Mori (SDP) led several small groups to the line. Fletcher and Nibali pulled a gap on the other two with about 4k to go but, after messing around a bit in the last k, Popo and Mori caught up. Popo was out front going to the finish but clearly gassed from the brief chase. Fletcher dived to the left leading out the sprint; Nibali effortlessly took his wheel. About 50 meters out, Nibali turned on the power. Fletcher could not respond and the 21 year-old grabbed the win (photo credit: AFP). Nibali is rapidly becoming something of a sensation and should be great fun to watch over the coming years. With a win in Plouay and a third in Cordoba, it was a good day all around for the Liquigas crew.

Of other Note: Today was Viatchslav Ekimov's last race (photo credit: JF Quenet). The peloton will surely miss the old man as he transitions to the role of Sport Director with Discovery. As for me, I still think Eki's got one more Tour in his legs and I wouldn't be surprised to see him contest the London prologue next July. Wishful thinking? Probably.