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By VeloNews Interactive
Kirk O’Bee and Vassily Davidenko (Navigators) scored a one-two punch Sunday in the 24th Grand Prix Cycliste de la Ville de Rennes, a thriller that went right down to the wire … and only missed being a top-five Navigators sweep by a single placing.
Team director Ed Beamon called the 189.4km race, which winds up with five laps of a 6.3km circuit in the city of Rennes, “a great event for the sprinters.” And with U.S. crit champ O’Bee in the mix, it proved to be a great event for the Navigators as well.An early break by Arturas Kasputis (AG2R) and Eddy Seigneur (Jean Delatour), followed by a 30-rider split over the first climb to Guichen, went nowhere, as did a bid the second time around by O’Bee and Nicolas Fritsch (Francaise des Jeux). With 40km remaining, Beamon said, “it was looking like a certain field sprint.”
Then, Kasputis tried another shot, O’Bee marked him, and the two began to open a gap. Joined by Mederic Clain (Cofidis) and Frederic Gabriel (Saint-Quentin Oktos), the leaders took a 50-second gap into the finishing circuit.
A determined chase began, first led by the Italian DeNardi team, then by Francaise des Jeux, and the leaders’ margin quickly dissolved – until, two laps to go, O’Bee launched first one attack, then another, shedding first Gabriel, then Clain, in a determined bid for a solo victory.
At the end, it was a matter of meters. O’Bee held a gap of just eight seconds with a kilometer to go, but held on to win by 20 meters over teammate Davidenko, who took the field sprint for second. Jimmy Casper (Francaise des Jeux) crossed third, followed by Navigators Ciaran Power and Oleg Grichkine in fourth and fifth, respectively.