Paris-Nice 1: On The Cold Way To Vendome

Cold. Very cold. Snow at the start, wind and low temperature on the way to Vendome. 
There is a break and after 45 km De Gendt, Quemeneur, Tronet and Hupong have 8'30". 
After 80 km they still have over 9' on the peloton
60 km to go the gap is down to 5' and as the peloton started chasing it keeps decreasing.
45 km to go, cross wind: Team Sky attacks and splits the peloton. Nicely played!
Jerome Coppel, Rui Costa, Philippe Gilbert and Simon Spilak are in the second group while Thomas, Stannard, Rowe, Roche, Swift and Henao are in front. The break is about to get caught.
First gravelled section: Team Sky is making the race. 20 km to go, the break is over.
Up they go and the attack start. Second gravelled section: chemin du Tertre de la Motte. Perichon is leading solo but his gap is slight. Intermediate sprint: Matthews takes 2" and Thomas 1" bonus. The peloton is back together but Frank Schleck is dropped behind, he had a mechanical problem maybe... Kristoff had a puncure too.
9 km to go Perichon gets caught.
On the gravels again. Puncture for Impey. Team Sky sets a fast pace. Gilbert is suffering at the back.
5 km to go, a mechanical for Chavanel and a quick bike change. Also Tim Wellens had to chase after a punture. And the road goes up. 
Last gravelled sector. Thomas is in his element. Kittel is almost dropped.
1,5 km:  Edward Theuns attacks. He goes solo. He keeps going. Last km! The longest km of his life, that's sure. At his back the bunch is launched. He's finally caught. 
Arnaud Demare sprints on Ben Swift. What a race! what a finale! 
That was Geraint Thomas' perfect race and he's now 5th in the GC. Richie Porte is 8th.  Izaguirre is the first Polka Jersey of this year Paris-Nice.
No cigar but anyway Edward Theuns is my hero! BRAVO! Keep trying! 

Michael Matthews:
"I'm more focused on keeping the jersey" 
"It was a hard day all day. I'm glad we had a super strong ORICA-GreenEDGE team today to take care of the race and bring back the four escapees. The main focus today was on defending the jersey. It would be nice to win a stage but the jersey was the main focus. It's great to hold it for one more day especially as I managed to take two seconds in the last intermediate sprint. The final lap was tougher than I expected. I saw that some of the general classification guys were up there so I had to make the effort to chase them. Maybe it took away some of my energy for the sprint." 

Alberto Contador:
"Dia 100% @ParisNice,frio,viento,nieve y este año barro.Dia salvado,gran trabajo #tinkoffboys👍🏻#Duchita #ParisNice"

Richie Porte:
“It was one of the most nervous and sketchy kind of days I’ve had. You could feel in the peloton all day that everyone was stressed. I think it was actually a bit of a godsend when the peloton split because I don’t think the whole peloton would have made it around there. Eventually on the lap when the peloton did catch up there were so many tired guys there that it worked out quite well. It was a spectacle today and all is well that ends well. If I’d known going into it how the stage was going to be, I would have been a lot more stressed that what I was. To be up there at the front in those gravel sections shows that my form is where it needs to be.”

Sam Bewley:
"Solid day in @ParisNice. I'm glad it wasn't head wind on the front. I'm also glad that snow storm only lasted 15min. Still in the yellow!"

Pieter Serry:
"Survived wind, rain, snow and mini Strade Bianche @ParisNice. Fingers crossed for better weather (and roads)✌️😉 #WayToRide"

Wouter Wippert:
"That was a tricky day on the bike. Snow, crosswinds, cold, dirt roads. @Ride_Argyle #stage1 @ParisNice start with an 11th place..."

Edward Theuns:
"I didn't wait for the sprint because I was afraid that the second group would catch us and then it would have been risky to be overruled by that 2nd group. I felt it was a good moment to attack and gave it my all. In the last kilometer I couldn't think much, my legs hurt like hell, and I was hoping I could hold on, but every time I looked back I saw them approaching. At 500m, I thought that I hope they don't start the sprint too fast…I almost succeeded, but there was a lot of wind, mainly a head/cross wind, so that made it more difficult. The race was 150 meters too long for me. I was in the first group after it split, and I was always in the front on the dirt roads. The dirt roads were okay. I think you had to be in the front there, but they didn't really race super hard on those gravel sectors. I felt really good all day. Already yesterday I thought that maybe today was a stage for a good chance to win. It hurts to be this close to my first [World Tour] victory… it's a pity. Yes, I am disappointed, because I came so close, but on the other hand, I think it's better to come so close than not be in the story of the stage at all."

Fränk Schleck:
"Snow, dirt, rain, wind, we saw it all today. It was a rough day. I was chasing behind the front group of 30 riders after the peloton split. I was in the chasing group that made it back on, but then the first time on the circuit I flatted. Fumy [Beppu] gave me his wheel, and we made it back to a group, but not the peloton. There is nothing to do but suck it up and move on."

Tom Dumoulin:
“It was a really nervous day today and I am happy with my performance. I managed to be in the first echelon with Koen and I always felt comfortable. I want to thank my teammates, the whole team were great today in looking after me in the peloton.”

Luke Rowe:
"I think it's a bit of a love/hate relationship with something like that. Sometimes you hate it when you're out there but looking back it was good fun. I think there was a bit of everything today. We had probably a good half-hour to an hour of full-on snow. It was starting to settle on the ride of the road. We were a bit worried that the race might have to get stopped but then it cleared up and the race began.
It was something we decided before the race even started - that we were going to try and commit at that point. It was always going to be quite a big fight going into those gravel sections, so if we could narrow the peloton down it would make our lives easier. We definitely gave it a go and went for it.
The gravel sections weren't actually too bad. The race organisers had filled in all the potholes and craters. It was quite messy and a bit of crosswind on them - but in terms of the roughness and the dangerousness of them they weren't too bad at all. There were a few punctures which is to be expected but I don't think there were any crashes and there were no massive splits on the sections.
On a personal note I feel good. It's an important part of the season for myself and a few of the guys here. I think I'm where I need to be and I'm looking forward to a good week of solid racing. G is in really good form so we'll do our best to give everything for him. Let's see where he is in a week's time."

Tom Boonen:
"We did 200 kilometers in really bad weather, so it wasn't easy at all. I don't like the cold, but I was happy to be at the front. When the peloton split, I worked to keep the break going. Then, after Marcel was dropped, I tried to do my own sprint, took the last corner in a good position, but it wasn't too much acceleration left in the legs. For me it was very important to finish safely and gain kilometers before the Classics. Now I'll try to recover after this hard stage and continue to improve in the following days."

Wilco Kelderman:
“I was looking forward to it, actually. Anything can happen of course, but I wasn’t thinking about that at all. It’s the right mindset not to fear a stage like today’s, but that doesn’t come naturally. When you’re tired, especially in days like these, you can lose your focus. Everything went well today for me. I rode with confidence, partly thanks to the team being at such a high level.”

Michael Valgren:
"Everybody are tweeting about the rain, snow and mud in todays stage of P-N. I will just say i manage to drop a rain jacket in my wheel,, yup."


1 Demare
2 Swift
3 Bouhanni
4 Petit
5 Matthews
6 Boonen
7 Vanmarcke
8 Geschke
9 Van Genechten 10 Thomas
1 Matthews
2 Dumoulin +3
3 Bevin +4
4 J Izaguirre +8
5 Thomas +8
6 Westra +9
7 Devenyns +10
8 Porte +12
9 Demare +14
10 Kelderman

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