Allez, allez, allez. Frenchman Sylvain Georges (AG2R La Mondiale) out-foxed the peloton to take a thrilling win at Le Big Bear Lake. Chapeau, mon vieux! We’re doing our best to avoid the dreaded, sure-to-be-used “By Georges!” cliche.
AG2R broke their long win drought not once but twice. Earlier in the day California time, Sébastien Hinault sprinted to a win in stage 3 at the Circuit de Lorraine. Now, Georges takes the biggest victory of his career, winning solo with 28 seconds to spare in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd that cheered him all the way up the finish. Curse broken.
Georges almost died but it was worth the near-death experience. “The most difficult thing about the final kilometres was in my head. I hurt everywhere. I was starting to go cross-eyed and getting cramps, but I was able to focus and fight through it,” said Georges. “It was the hardest 15km of my life. But For me it’s the most beautiful victory of my career. I’ve never arrived solo for victory like this and it was incredibly special.”
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) didn’t win for the second time at Big Bear but took out the sprint for second place. Peter Velits score third and nabbed four bonus seconds — that’s a lot of climbing for such a meager haul. Meanwhile Captain America Dave Zabriskie (Garmin Barracuda) arrived safe and sound and still in the leader’s jersey.
The Frenchman jumped in the morning break with six other riders with various agendas. The Mountains jersey battle brought out Sebastian Salas and Andrew Bajadali (Optum Pro Cycling) and David Boily (Spidertech-C10). The diminutive Yukihiro Doi (Argos-Shimano) was hoping for sponsor TV time, Gregory Rast (RadioShack-Nissan) was up front because why not, it’s a bike race and finally there was Most Aggro Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Cycling).
Eventually only Georges still had the legs to go hard, building up a maximum lead of five minutes with 30K to go. Garmin-Barracuda said “pas de yellow for you, monsieur.” They cut the lead back to two with help from Liquigas-Cannondale — Timmy Duggan is the man — and BMC Racing.
However, they miscalculated the strength and climbing skill of Georges. They assumed that since he was French, hadn’t won much of anything and was riding for AG2R No-Wins-Mondiale that they’d crack him soon enough. Even a three man counter attack with Wilco Kelderman (Rabobank) Pieter Weening (Orica GreenEdge) and Vennell couldn’t do more than cut his gap in half before they gave up and were reabsorbed.
In short, Sylvain Georges was channeling his inner Thomas Voeckler. Well done, French, fry.