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Grand Prix de Denain: Max Walscheid wins with late sprint from reduced peloton

Fresh off a Paris-Nice win, Slovenian Primož Roglič used race as a preview for the cobbled stage waiting this summer at the Tour de France.

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Max Walscheid (Cofidis) won the 2022 Grand Prix de Denain, after a dangerous five-man break that included Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was brought back at the red kite.

The race nearly blew up when three Ineos Grenadiers riders, including American rookie Magnus Sheffield, powered off the front in the closing 30km. Roglič and another rider hitched a ride, and were only caught with about 1km to go.

“I am incredibly happy. We did the best performance possible and I am so happy to finish it off,” he said. “We took control in the beginning and the team put me in the last 500m, and then it was full-gas to the line. I knew it was a difficult situation [Roglič group] and I was a little bit scared that we did not catch them back. I am super happy for our team. Today we also scored a lot of points and my teammates have scored some victories and I hope we can keep this ball rolling.”

Roglič and Jumbo-Visma teammate Jonas Vingegaard were both at the start line at the relatively minor midweek semi-classic to get a taste of some cobbles. With a stage set to trace some pavé at the Tour de France this summer, the pair wanted a race-speed sampling of the bumpy stuff.

Cofidis and other teams piled on to bring back the attackers and the big German finished off the job.

Walscheid was patient and waited to launch his winning sprint until seemingly just 100m to go.

Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) battled Adrien Petit (Intermarché Wanty Gobert Matériaux) for second and third places.

After finishing second Wednesday at Danilith Nokere Koerse, the win was Walscheid’s first in more than two years.

How it happened

A five-man break went off the front early, but this group eventually slimmed to three, and the most experienced rider in the group was Niki Terpstra (TotalEnergies).

This break came apart before the 70km to go mark, and at 67km repeated attacks went off the front to try to bring back the remaining escapees who were 2:12 up the road.

A crash at 50km shattered the peloton while the three on the front rolled on, still a minute out front of the next group on the road.

The peloton brought back the intermediate chase group before the first of six cobbled sectors on the final lap, and then absorbed the final men in the break at 30km to go.

Roglič on the move

Nearly as soon as the group was back together, a threatening break was launched by Ineos Grenadiers, with Sheffield, Ben Turner, and Jhonatan Narváez. The three were joined by Damien Touze (AG2R-Citroën), and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).

Vingegaard punctured just before Ineos split the bunch, and he was unable to follow the break.

Over the successive 15km, this quintet stretched its advantage to nearly half a minute.

At 12km to go, Groupama-FDJ went to the front of the just two-dozen or so group to bring the men on the front under control. Terpstra, seemingly recovered from his earlier mission added firepower to the pursuit.

The 19-year-old American Sheffield, who had done the majority of pulling in the late break, dropped back as the peloton looked to be within striking distance of Roglič’s group.

When it looked like he was about to be brought back, Narváez tried a flier off the front, as the Jumbo-Visma captain swung to the side of the road as the main bunch was on his wheels.

The pace of the chase increased and finally brought back Narváez just under the flamme rouge.

In a hectic final sprint on the cobbled, Dries De Bondt was the first to launch.

A patient Walscheid waited until the final 100m and surged, holding Bondt and Petit in the chaotic finale.

2022 Grand Prix de Denain Results

  1. Max Walscheid (Cofidis), 4:42:24
  2. Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), at s.t.
  3. Adrien Petit (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), at s.t.
  4. Pierre Barbier (B&B Hotels-KTM), at s.t.
  5. Marc Sarreau (AG2R Citroën), at s.t.
  6. Sandy Dujardin (TotalEnergies), at s.t.
  7. Amaury Capiot (Team Arkéa-Samsic), at s.t.
  8. Samuel Leroux (GO Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), at s.t.
  9. Robbe Ghys (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), at s.t.
  10. Bram Welten (Groupama-FDJ), at s.t.