With eight French riders in the top 10, it was no surprise that a national rider won the French opener to the 2009 European calendar in Sunday’s GP La Marseillaise.
Rémi Pauriol gave his Cofidis team bragging rights for the first win of the 2009 season by staying clear of the chasing Bouygues Telecom duo of Thomas Voeckler and Yury Trofimov.
Pauriol survived a series of decisive attacks in the opening hour of racing in the 136.8km route around the hills near Marseille.
Pauriol joined a group of six that pulled clear at Belcodne at 42km, following Matthieu Ladagnous and Christophe Lemevel (FDJeux), Geert Steurs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), Cyril Gautier (Bouygues) and Jussi Veikkanen (FDJeux).
Pauriol and Ladagnous dropped everyone out of the group while Voeckler and Trofimov opened up the chase. Ladagnous faded under the pressure, but Pauriol held tough to bring home the victory 27 seconds ahead of Voeckler and Trofimov.
The 26-year-old Pauriol turned pro in 2006 with the now-defunct Crédit Agricole. His career highlights include victory in the Route Adélie in 2007 and third overall last year at the Volta a Catalunya.
Early season French racing continues with the Etoile de Bessèges (Feb. 4-8) and the Tour Mediteranéen (Feb. 11-15).
GP La Marseillaise, 136.8km
1. Rémi Pauriol (Fra), Cofidis 3:29:12
2. Thomas Voeckler (Fra), Bouygues Telecom at 27sec
3. Yury Trofimov (Rus), Bouygues s.t.
4. Jean-Eudes Demaret (Fra) at 1:07
5. Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) s.t.