The GP Ouest France-Plouay is a hidden gem, a sparkling course too often obscured by the ongoing Vuelta a España and inevitable late-season race weariness among fans. The 27km circuit that is navigated nine times is constantly rolling and has three shorter climbs that, over the course of 243km, wear down on riders. The steepest is the last and comes some four kilometers from the finish, as sure a way to make a race animated as one could devise.
The beauty of the course is how balanced it is, favoring both punchy breakaway riders whose chances to shine throughout the season and the heartier of sprinters. The list of recent winners is hard not to love, ranging from Vincenzo Nibali, Thomas Voeckler, and Pierrick Fedrigo to Matthew Goss, Tyler Farrar, and Edvald Boassan Hagan. The final kilometers are always a drag race between a solo rider or small group and a chasing pack of over fifty riders. There is guaranteed tension down to the line.
Today did not disappoint, and at the end it was seemingly rejuvenated Filipo Pozzato emerging from the scrum in the last 200 meters to take a victory over Radioshack's young Giacomo Nizzolo and AG2R's Samuel Dumoulin. But before the hectic sprint, spread all over the road, the attacks were numerous and brought an ever-changing group of riders to the front of the action.
With 20 kilometers to the finish, Dries Devenyns was off the front and Tom Dumoulin had emptied his tank trying desperately to join him. The two were joined with two thirds of a circuit remaining, but a gassed Dumoulin either could not or would not pull through and the duo were brought back into the fold a few minutes later. The inevitable counter-attack was led by Giovanni Visconti, a perfect rider for this sort of course, though perhaps he was showing his hand too soon with over 10 kilometers remaining. Though he had two others for company, their cooperation came in spurts, the winner of two stages of this year's Giro d'Italia repeatedly gapping his companions before realizing his mistake.
As the once again intact peloton hit the impossibly narrow Côte de Ty Merrec a flurry of attacks disintegrated the front end of the bunch and out of the scrum emerged BMC's Greg Van Avermaet, recent winner of the Tour of Wallonie and a stage of the Tour of Utah in a similar last-minute attack. The execution of BMC's plan seemed perfect with a strong, attacking rider with a decent gap and Thor Hushovd sitting just behind those chasing his teammate. The final kilometer is cruel, though, a slight downhill that lends itself to pursuers and Van Avermaet was caught with 500 meters to go. The sprint opened up and it appeared Hushovd had the best position, but he was first swamped and then boxed in as the sprint spread all across the road. Instead, it was Pozzato, emerging from some twenty riders back, who powered through the middle and barely nicked Nizzolo at the line.
- Filippo Pozzato (Lampre - Merida)
- Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack Leopard)
- Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R)
- Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol)
- Daniele Bennati (Saxo - Tinkoff)
- Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing Team)
- Elia Viviani (Cannondale Pro Cycling)
- Francisco Ventoso (Movistar)
- Borut Bozic (Astana Pro Team)
- John Degenkolb (Team Argos-Shimano)