Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier gave France another gold medal and another rainbow jersey in the junior men’s road race after sprinting away from the remnants of a successful break to beat Belgium’s Martijn Degreve and the Netherlands’s Steven Lammertink into second and third respectively.
Lecuisinier punched clear in the final 150 metres of the 126km event in which the French squad dominated the race with their superior numbers and better tactics, proving it is possible for a break to succeed on the flat course.
“It’s a really great day, I’m so happy,” said an ecstatic Lecuisinier at the finish in Rudersdal, just north of Copenhagen. “I want to thank all the French team today – they did a very good job for me to win.”
After leading out Lecuisinier, France’s Florian Senechal claimed fourth, with Erik Zabel’s son, Rick, rounding out the top five.
Second-placed Degreve said: “We didn’t have any real communication with the other riders in the break. I just talked to Rob Leemans and he attacked inside the last 2km, which was really good for me, but Pierre-Henri was too strong.”
As to be expected with junior riders, the racing was aggressive from the start and the French immediately made their mark, getting four riders into a 13-man group. Although the break didn’t last a lap it was a springboard for Alexis Gougeard (France) and Daan Myngheer (Belgium) to jump clear. Their lead barely grew passed the 40 second mark as a continuous flurry of attacks kept the duo’s lead pegged back. However their effort held out until the seventh lap when they were finally reclaimed by the peloton.
Another flurry of attacks from a number of riders including British rider Matthew Holmes and Australian Calvin Watson followed and a large group of about 25 riders broke clear. In the penultimate lap of a race, however, a break of six, with two riders apiece from France, Belgium and the Netherlands created a 20 second cushion and this proved to be the attack of the race thanks to the presence of several big nations.
Despite the efforts of the Italian squad, led by European junior time trial champion Alberto Bettiol, and several hard turns by Great Britain, the move stayed away. The margin was also aided on the final lap after a bad-looking crash at the front of the peloton when a German rider misjudged the apex and brought down about 15 others.
Up ahead, on the last significant incline of the course, Slik faded off the back and re-joined the peloton, leaving the remaining five to press on alone.
Leemans surged away in the finale, got a gap and seemed set to win, even insight of the line. However the slight gradient up to the finish hurt his speed and the other riders started their sprint early to avoid being caught by the rapidly approaching peloton.
Lammertink went first but then eased. Lecuisinier then made his own, more decisive move and quickly got a gap than gave him the time to understand and celebrate the significance of his victory.
Lecuisinier’s success means France has now claimed two gold medals in this year’s road events.
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.