Endura help Mandri shine at Bretagne

Rene Mandri is one of Endura Racing’s new recruits for 2011 and I have been keeping an eye out to see what type of rider he is. After the Tour of Bretagne, I’m still not quite sure, but it’s clear he is stong enough to get in a break and stay away, as well as to win a sprint from a small group. Below is a press report from Cyclevox about his recent 2nd place in the Breton stage race.

After a string of high-profile performances in Europe over the last few weeks, Endura Racing are beginning to find their footing as a team that can deliver results and mix it with the best pro cycling teams in the world. Estonian Rene Mandri capitalised on this rich vein of confidence running through the squad to take a stage win and second on GC at last week’s Tour de Bretagne – Trophée des Granitiers in France.

Mandri took the leader’s jersey on the 193km second stage, after sprinting to the stage win from a four man break which had been away for 165km. The stage took the race from Rennes to Guérande and the race winning breakaway moving clear with just 28km of racing completed. Rene along with Peter Kusztor (Atlas Personnel), Mikhail Antonov (Katusha Continental) and Evaldas Siskevicus (Pomme La Marseille) worked well together and stretched out their lead to over eight minutes at one point. Behind them, the peloton started to organise and Rabobank Continental and Saur Sojasun worked hard to close down the break.

With two laps of the 6km finishing circuit to go, it became clear that the winner and new race leader would come from the escapees and Rene was able to outfox his rivals to take the win and the leader’s jersey. Day one of the race had also seen Alex Blain sprint to third place on the stage.

The ensuing days saw Endura Racing battling it out with not only the competition but also a host of crashes – which saw many of the team hitting the deck on stage four. From this point on Mandri and his team-mates showed some great tenacity.

Writing on the Pro Cycling Blog James Moss takes up the story of stage 5:

“After four of us had been on the floor the previous day, this one was always going to be a tough stage. The last thing we needed was a brutal parcours straight from the gun, but that’s what we got. The organiser took us up and down every steep-sided valley that they could possibly find. On a particularly steep and narrow drag, I found myself track standing for a few seconds. Knowing that riders at the front would be riding significantly faster than 0 kph, the bunch was unlikely to be in one piece over the top.

It wasn’t – and the chase was brutal. With three Endura jerseys in the front, including René, I could happily sit back and hope it came together. Despite a damned hard chase on yet more difficult roads the chase was unsuccessful and a large grupetto began to form. Eventually we rolled over the finish line 30 minutes behind the winner. René was still in second place – the only important factor for Endura.”

Stage 6 saw more bad luck and bad weather, as lashing rain meant that many more riders either crashed or climbed off, Paul Voss was one such rider to crash, but valiantly climbed back on. Speaking after the race Paul stated;
“That was a hard week for me in France but I enjoyed the time with the guys. After my broken collar bone I was only two and a half weeks on the bike, so the first days were not really good for me. But it was day by day better. I’m really happy with the stage win and second on GC for Rene. We have worked as a team and that’s really important!”

On the 7th and final stage Mandri was still on four seconds back on GC and the Endura Racing boys still had the bit between their teeth to try and help him regain the overall race leaders jersey. Unfortunately Alex Blain had to retire on the final stage, still feeling the effects of a crash on the previous stage, and from here on it would prove very difficult for the team to rally enough strength to control things up-front.

So it proved, and although the team turned in a sterling effort on the finishing circuits of the final stage to try and wrestle the four seconds that Mandri needed, it wasn’t to be and the Estonian had to settle for 2nd on GC – a super result from a very tough week.Speaking after his efforts Rene stated:

“Wining the second stage was a good work of the team. Our tactics were to have one rider in the break and I got lucky to have strong riders with me. Finally I beat them easily in the sprint. Next day we lost the leaders jersey but the boys did a good ride trying to keep it and finally we have to be pleased with second in GC.”

All images ©Fabrice Lambert / Sportbreizh.com