Jonas Koch and Kamil Gradek made their presence known in French Cup, Grand Prix de Denain – Porte du Hainaut, by riding aggressively in the breaks.
Info: March 18th, Deinain – Denain, 170km
Course: flat, cobbled
Due to extreme weather conditions – low temperatures, frozen and slippery roads – the organizers decided to modify the course, by skipping 9 out of 12 cobblestone sectors and shortening the distance to 170 kilometers.
Kamil Gradek was one of the early attackers, as he pulled away with 9 other riders. They opened up a 30-second gap, before peloton started fierce chase to catch this dangerous move. Gradek’s attempt was neutralized with 110km to go.
On first cobblestone sector, with around 55km remaining, the peloton split into several pieces and 3-man group emerged in the front. Jonas Koch managed to make that escape, alongside Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise) and Nikolay Trusov (Gazprom-Rusvelo). Later they were also joined by Sylvain Chavanel (Direc Energie) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty – Groupe Gobert). Their advantage never exceeded 1 minute, while Paweł Franczak, Frantisek Sisr, Michał Paluta and Kamil Gradek were riding safely in the reduced peloton.
With 30km to go another 4 riders bridged to the front, making it a 9-man leading group. They maintained around 30s gap, but with 20km to go Direct Energie put the hammer down and three of their riders closed that gap in no time. By that move they both shattered the bunch and the escape. Koch couldn’t keep up with them and got dropped, while the French squad continued fierce push towards the line.
Adrien Petit (Direct Energie) didn’t want to wait for the sprint and pulled away solo from the leaders. His brave attempt was not successful though, as he was pulled back in with just 2km to go. In the end Kenny Dehaes launched a long one, created a small gap and just before the line finished it off with a sprint. He claimed the win ahead of Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits) and Julien Duval (AG2R La Mondiale).
Paweł Franczak was CCC Sprandi Polkowice top finisher, coming in in 53rd (3:49 back).