Romain Grégoire was impressive last Saturday to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège Espoirs, just a few months after leaving the youth ranks. The bisontin won after a sprint of seven, after this strong group went out on the last difficulty of the day. But long before this happy ending, the Conti Groupama-FDJ had decided to set the gunpowder on fire. “The idea was to start the race earlier, in the sequence of Côte de Wanne, Stockeu, Côte de la Haute-Levée and even Rosier. This was the part we were able to recognize yesterday (Friday). We knew it was very hard, with no rest between climbs. We could blow it all up and that’s what we did.”explained the winner after the goal (read here). Romain Grégoire then left some 80 terminals from the finish line with his teammates Lenny Martinez and Reuben Thompson. Only Frenchman Alex Baudin (Swiss Racing Academy) managed, or wanted, to get behind the wheel.
The quartet spent a good hour leading the race, before being caught up by the peloton. “When we went out, I thought it would have been nice to do the hat-trick… In my head, the podium was practically assured”explains Lenny Martinez afterwards. “In the final, three against one, I think we would have managed to get rid of him. I really thought he would finish. The gap increased very fast, we pushed hard. I felt like he had the legs to hold on.”. And when DirectVelo asks him about the reasons for the failure of this escapade, he reveals important information: “We saw, then on Strava, that there was obviously a reference error before the Côte de la Redoute. We did a zigzag in the city that the peloton did not do. At the top of La Redoute, the difference had been reduced by 30 seconds compared to the previous score. We really didn’t understand why we had put it by force to force it, precisely… Maybe without that, the scenario would have been different “.
Indeed, the escape was at a disadvantage with the passage of Remouchamps. As the peloton skirted the River Amblève, the leading four riders took a detour, crossing the river before returning to the right hand side. The additional distance achieved by the escape is 250 meters, according to information collected by DirectVelo on Strava -see photos at the end of the article-. “It’s a shame because there was so much to do! She had ants on her legs, she almost wanted to attack from La Redoute but there were still 40 terminals left”S’amuse Lenny Martinez.
FROM LIÈJA-BASTOGNE-LIÈJA TO THE ALPS TOUR WITH THIBAUT PINOT
Reuben Thompson also mentions this reference error with regret. But the New Zealander enjoyed his teammates. “It was nice! The craziest thing for me is that initially I wasn’t even scheduled for this race. I found out on Tuesday night. I filled in for a sick rider.”. On paper, however, this event suited the Conti driver very well, who will evolve into the WorldTeam of the same name over the next two years. So why wasn’t it originally planned? “I am competing in the Tour of the Alps, with the professionals, starting this Monday. I really wanted to come to Liège but in January, when we set the calendar, we told ourselves that the sequence was going to be complicated so I had to choose one of the two”.
Beyond an incredible stage, the Franche-Comté collective has once again demonstrated its collective strength. “We had planned it, we wanted to do everything possible on these climbs to make a difference. We consider having the best climbers in the race but also one of the best sprinters in Sam (Watson). We had to try. Sam could stay on the rear wheels, it was Plan B if it fit.”Reuben Thompson reports. What other confirmation, as manager Jens Blatter recently announced, that the Conti Groupama-FDJ is currently the best reserve in the world? “I don’t really like to say that but it’s true that we win a lot and that we always respond. In the Triptych, for example, the guys went crazy with all the guys up front in a group of ten on a rim shot. Many riders win on the Conti, power! And it shows that everyone is capable of it.”rejoices Lenny Martinez. “The start of the season has been very good at the front of the sprinters. We wanted to show that we are also there. We wanted to be as good as them.”adds Reuben Thompson, not surprised that Romain Grégoire was able to complete the job. “He is so strong! And he had signed up for this race.”.
On Sunday morning, Lenny Martinez and Reuben Thompson flew to Italy. They will therefore compete in the Tour of the Alps, with the WorldTeam, accompanied in particular by Thibaut Pinot. the ” Kiwi » As a reminder, I had already participated in the event last year and had played the classification of the mountain by breakaways (read here). This time, it will be necessary to digest the efforts of Saturday, in Liège. “It may seem a bit short, but we’ll see how it goes. We will have various roles: team member and why not free spirit. Surely we can try something., rejoices Lenny Martínez, already present at the Laigueglia Trophy at the beginning of the year with the WorldTeam. Without a doubt, he will find in Italy a new opportunity to earn money and experience. The demonstration carried out in Belgium two days ago, on the other hand, will undoubtedly be much more difficult to repeat.