Florian Sénéchal wins the French Nationals
Florian Sénéchal powered to the most emotional victory of his career Sunday afternoon, taking Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s 66th national title in Cholet. It was a win that fulfilled a career-long dream for Florian, who was congratulated straight after the finish by his Wolfpack teammates, Julian Alaphilippe and Rémi Cavagna, who came at the start of the 240km race as the defending champion.
The course wasn’t particularly hard, but a short climb and some rolling roads on each lap made it more difficult to control by the sprinters’ teams, and despite not having the numbers, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl moved boldly and decisively on this terrain. With two laps to go, Cavagna took off together with two other riders, and although they were brought back by the peloton with 16 kilometers to go, his action showed that it’s possible to open an important gap in the key part of the course.
Having returned to racing for the first time since April, Julian Alaphilippe turned into domestique de luxe in the final lap, working for Sénéchal, who got out of the saddle and bolted away from the bunch. Only Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) could stay in his wheel as they navigated the technical descent where the duo managed to increase their advantage over the peloton.
Just ahead of the flamme rouge, three riders joined them, but Florian remained calm and patiently waited for the right moment to make his move. This happened on the slightly uphill final 150 meters, where the 28-year-old unleashed a rapid acceleration, coming past his opponents and beating Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) for an unforgettable victory.
It’s unbelievable! To be the French Champion and hear La Marseillaise on the podium is something that will forever stay with me.
“I worked a lot, I made a lot of sacrifices, and to get this reward after a difficult part of the season is incredible. The mere thought that I will have this superb jersey on my shoulders for the next twelve months and race the Spring Classics makes me emotional.”
“We knew it would be difficult in three, so we decided to wait for the last two laps. We wanted to try something there, as in the bunch sprint we wouldn’t have had a chance. Rémi was the first to attack, then as soon as he was brought back Julian brought me to the front and I went the final time up the climb, giving everything. When the other riders bridged across with one kilometer to go, it was the perfect scenario for me. I knew I was the fastest in the group, had a good feeling and the legs were strong, so I stayed calm and made my sprint. It hasn’t been the best season for me until now, but this totally makes up for everything”, concluded Florian after becoming the third different Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider to win the French Road Race Nationals.
Photo credit: ©Cassandra Donne