Andy Flickinger (AG2R) celebrated “the most beautiful day” of his cycling career, after sprinting to victory at the Grand Prix Plouay on Sunday.
The 24-year-old Grenoble resident took a hard-fought win against Anthony Geslin (Brioches) and Nicolas Jalabert (CSC) at the end of the 198-kilometer race around Plouay.
The day started out fast, with the field covering the first lap on a difficult14.4km circuit at nearly 45kph. Early on, a group of 40 riders managed to build a nearly two-minute lead on the field before being reeled in.
Flickinger, however, timed his move correctly when he followed what turned out to be the day’s winning break. Flickinger joined Ag2R teammate Mark Scanlon, Geslin, Jalabert, Joseba Albizu (Mercatone Uno) and Christophe Mengin (fdjeux.com) at the 42-kilometer mark – just three laps into the 14-lap event. The group was soon joined by Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) and Kurt-Asle Arvesen (fakta).
Entering the final lap, the group’s one-minute lead appeared to be enough of a buffer so that the escapees began to attack one another instead of worrying about the chase. Mengin was the first to try his luck, but his seven companions reacted quickly and soon neutralized his move.
Flickinger then attacked with less than 10km remaining and appeared to be on his way to victory when he was caught by Jalabert with 4km remaining. At the 3km mark, the duo was joined by Mengin.Flickinger’s luck seemed almost to have run out in the final kilometer as Geslin, Arvesen, Albizu and Scanlon then joined up with the three leaders. But Flickinger took advantage of the momentary rest the now-larger group offered and, again, timed his move to perfection, charging with 200 meters to go and Geslin and Jalabert in the final sprint to the line.Grand Prix des Plouay, Plouay, France
1. Andy Flickinger (F), AG2R, 198km in 4:34:22
2. Anthony Geslin (F), Brioches
3. Nicolas Jalabert (F), CSC
4. Christophe Mengin (F), FDJeux.com
5. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (N), Fakta
6. Mark Scanlon (Irl), AG2R, all s.t.
7. Joseba Albizu (Sp), Mercatone Uno, at 0:03
8. Patrice Halgand (F), Jean Delatour, at 0:25
9. Cedric Vasseur (F), Cofidis, at 1:38
10. Thor Hushovd (N), Credit Agricole, at 1:48
Telekom reshuffles, Julich, Hondo and others out for ‘04
Germany’s Telekom team will not renew the contracts of seven riders, including American Bobby Julich and German Danilo Hondo, team manager Walter Godefroot announced Sunday. Julich, who finished third in the 1998 Tour de France, will not be offered a contract for 2004, Godefroot said. The 31-year-old Julich turned pro in 1994 and has ridden in Europe for Motorola, Cofidis and Credit Agricole before signing with Telekom at the end of 2001.
Julich was part of Credit Agricole when the squad won the team time trial stage at the Tour de France in 2001. Telekom signed the American the following year, pegging him as one of the squad’s grand tour contenders. Julich, however, has performed inconsistently since joining the team and was not among the riders picked for the Tour de France this year. Before that, Julich had started the Tour every year since 1997.
Godefroot said that Telekom will also not renew the contracts of Hondo, lead-out man Gian-Matteo Fagnini, Kai Hundertmarck, David Kopp, Dirk Reichl and Stefan Schumacher.
The 29-year-old Hondo has already agreed to terms with Germany’s Gerolsteiner squad. He is now scheduled to ride for Gerolsteiner at the Vuelta a España this September. Hondo was long credited for his tireless support of Jan Ullrich during his seven-year tenure on the squad. Ullrich left the team last year.
Godefroot said that Telekom has already recruited Russian Serguei Ivanov, Czech Tomas Konecny and Dutchman Brams Schmitz for the 2004 season.
“We are likely to add more riders,” noted team spokesman Olaf Ludwig, “but the team will definitely be smaller than the 25 we have this year.”
The team’s title sponsor, the German telecommunications giant Telekom, has extended its contract with the squad through 2006. The team will, however, operate under the banner of the company’s subsidiary T-mobile, a world-wide cellular phone company that already sponsors a mountain-bike team and the U.S. national women’s program.
Hiekmann takes Black Forest GP
Telekom’s Torsten Hiekmann won a sprint finish against three other riders who joined him in an early break at the Black Forest Grand Prix in Triberg, Germany, on Sunday.
The win marks the first professional win for the 23-year-old Hiekmann, who won the world junior road championship in 1997.Black Forest GP – Results
1. Torsten Hiekmann (G), Telekom, 191.9km in 4:56:54
2. Bjoern Glasner (G)
3. Leonardo Bertagnoli (I)
4. Christian Werner (G)all s.t.
5. Jure Golcer (Slo), at 4:18