By VeloNews Interactive wire services
The final day of the Tour de l’Avenir in France belonged to a Russian and an Australian, who dashed French hopes at the world’s premier stage race for riders 25 years and younger. iBanesto.com’s Denis Menchov snuck away for the overall victory, snatching the race lead from Frenchman Florent Brard (Festina), while Mercury’s Baden Cooke took his second stage win of the race and the green points jersey.
Cooke and Menchov escaped the peloton on the last of five climbs up the Cat. 1 Côte du Chauffaud, escaping 4km from the summit of the climb. They crested the climb with 28 seconds on the chase group, led by Brard, but Menchov needed 47 seconds to take the yellow jersey.
The chase was on in the closing kilometers, but Menchov and Cooke continued to gain ground on the descent, and at the finish, Cooke took the win, but Menchov had the needed time to take the overall title by one second.
1. Baden Cooke (Aus), Mercury, 135km in 3:30:50; 2. Denis Menchov (Rus), iBanesto.com, s.t.; 3. Inaki Flores (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:47; 4. Florent Brard (F), Festina; 5. Gorka Gonzalez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi; 6. Juan-Miguel Cuenca (Sp), Kelme-Costa Blanca; 7. Pablo Lastras Garcia (Sp), iBanesto.com; 8. Jesus Manzano (Sp), Kelme-Costa Blanca; 9. Jesus Manzano (Sp), Kelme-Costa Blanca; 10. Christophe Edaleine (F), Jean Delatour, all s.t.;
1. Menchov; 2. Brard, at 0:01; 3. Sylvain Chavanel (F), Bonjour, at 0:09; 4. Cuenca, at 0:28; 5. Manzano, at 0:33; 6. Cooke, at 0:42; 7. Evgeni Petrov (Rus), Mapei-Quick Step, at 1:00; 8. Flores, at 1:59; 9. Lastras Garcia, at 2:04; 10. Benoit Poilvet (F), Credit Agricole, at 2:34.