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Four years after triumphing in the Under 23 class, Jelle Wallays captured the big one, claiming Paris Tours in fine fashion.
Part of a seven-man breakaway group, the Belgian was with Thomas Voeckler, the last to stay clear of the pack. He then went on to show that youth could pay off against the experience of his French rival. Already a winner of stage 1 of the 2013 World Ports Classic, Wallays captures the most prestigious victory of his career.
5 and then 7 in the breakaway
Under a cloudy sky, the 159 riders of Paris-Tours took off from the charming common of Bonneval for a long and demanding day on the 237.5kms of the course. After 4 kilometers five men managed to break away: Voeckler (EUR), Wallays (TSV), Van Melsen (WGG), Benedetti (TNE) and Paillot (LPM). Their lead grew rapidly and reached 4’25 at km 7 while two riders were fighting their way to the front: Gouault (BIG) and Duval (RLM). After enjoying a maximum lead of 7’ at km 14, the leading group slowed down to wait for the two counter-attackers. Eventually seven men gathered together at the front at km 20.
FDJ and Giant-Shimano chasing
Under the influence of teams FDJ.fr and Giant-Shimano the gap started dropping. At km 54, the leaders however still had a 5’35 advantage. That gap dropped down as the peloton marched on helped out by a fairly strong tailwind. At the feeding zone (km 117), it had gone down to 3’30 and then 2’25 at km 166. At km 175, two riders gave it a go on a counter-attack:Ligthart (LTB) and Tjallinghi (BEL). While the pack remained 2’30 adrift, they moved slightly closer, at 1’45, never however managing to catch up with the escapees. They were eventually caught shortly later. At km 204, two other men tried their luck, taking off from the pack:Koretzky (BSE) and Engoulvent (EUR) but their efforts also proved to be vain. While Benedetti had been dropped due to a puncture, six riders remained in the lead, enjoying a 1’40 advantage with 25 kms to go.
A first decisive move occurred just a kilometer later when Voeckler, Wallays and Van Melsenpowered away. The three leaders could still count on a interesting 1’20 gap with 20kms to go, and then 1’10, 15kms from the line on a group of favorites including Degenkolb (GIA), VanAvermaet (BMC) and Vanmarcke (BEL).
The final 10k
With 10 kilometers to go, Wallays and Voeckler made the best of the climb up the Côte de Beau Soleil to drop Van Melsen. While the pack bunched up together again behind them, the duo kept a decent 42’’ lead with 4kms to go. Enough to start considering the win. And indeed they would never be caught. Despite his experience in major events, Voeckler couldn’t do much in the closing moments against Wallays. The Belgian captured his most prestigious victory, outsprinting Voeckler while another Belgian, Debusschere (LTB) fastest of the pack, clinched third spot.