Paris-Nice 4: Mont Ventoux

Mont Ventoux but not at the finish. The race honours the giant and goes away. A more prosaic line is waiting in Salon-de-Provence.
There is a break-away including Duchesne, Herrada, Boom, Courteille and Vandenbergh. 56 km to go they have 2'55" on the peloton.
45 km to go. Suddenly a crash in peloton: Gallopin and Schleck fell.
On the Côte de la Roque d'Anthéron 
Duchesne attacks the break and goes solo. 40 km to go gap is 1'50".
Team Tinkoff is leading the chase on the penultimate climb: it's a serious one. Vandenbergh is caught while Vandenbergh gets the top solo.
30 km to go Duchesne has 1'13" on the peloton. Herrada, Boom and Courteille have been caught. Kristoff is dropped in a group 40" behind the peloton.
La Côte de la Roque d'Anthéron: this one is steep and some riders have to stop at the back. In front the pace is brutal. Duchesne is still solo, already descending.
25 km to go. Lutsenko attacks.
In a corner Duchesne almost crashes but he's ready to correct his line balancing with a foot.  1'25" is now the gap of the group with Kristoff.
The news comes that Frank Schleck abandoned the race.
Lutsenko is chasing solo. 17 km to go he joins Duchesne. They have 57'' on the peloton. 15 km to go Lutsenko goes solo.
12 km to go Duchesne is caught.
But the peloton is not organised and Lutsenko still have 40''. 2 km to go his gap is 24". Can he do it?
YES he can! Lutsenko wins solo!

Alexey Lutsenko:
"In the final kms I knew the bunch was pretty close to me but I had good feelings from my legs so I continued to push at maximum on the pedals and my determination has been rewarded with this incredible victory.
I was feeling quite good in the last hills of the day so, when my teammates Lars Boom has been regain from the bunch, I tried a couple of times to go. At the first time the group catched me, at the second I escaped – explained today stage winner of the Astana Pro Team – and I knew there was still one guy at the front but honestly I thought to go as fast as possible and that was the right choice.
This has been my second victory in World Tour race and I think it is a very good way to start the season. I want to dedicate today win to my family, who does many sacrificies when I’m for long period away from home. Tomorrow we will race in Nice, that is my home here in France, I’m so proud about today perfomance and now I’m second on the GC, just 6 seconds from the Yellow Jersey: let’s see how the race will develop in the last two stages”.

Michael Matthews:
"It was a hard day for everybody but I feel good. Not super but good. I don't think anybody feels super after the first three days we had.
I had noted this stage down as I was hoping we could get rid of the sprinters along the way but as we didn't, we sat back and let the other teams do the work. The priority was then the yellow jersey more than the stage win.
I'm not going to say I can win Paris-Nice but I'm going to give it everything I have. It's already over for the green jersey, I won it, so now it's all for the yellow."

Pieter Serry:
"Intensive ride @ParisNice. Happy to ride for the 1st time a monument as the Mont-Ventoux. 6th at the finish. Up to next stage! #WayToRide"

Wilco Kelderman:
“The crash happened just in front of us,” he said. “We weren’t able to avoid it, and George and I fell into it. Everything was fine in the end. There wasn’t anything wrong with my bike so I was able to continue immediately. Within one and a half kilometres, I was back in the peloton. From that moment, everything went fine. I rode at the front-end of the race all the time, which came quite easily. I finished this stage with a good feeling.”

Serge Pauwels:
"Today was not an easy day. The break went very early but with this course which included over 3000m of climbing and the ascent of Mont Ventoux, we knew it was going to be a hard day. The peloton broke a couple of times and then after the last climb we were left with only 20 – 25 riders before a big bunch came back in the final. We sprinted behind an Astana rider who got away in the final but for me the most important was that I felt good. There will be opportunities tomorrow and the next day so we will see what we can do."

Frank Schleck:
"We were going flat out, and I was in the wheel of Laurent [Didier]. Suddenly in the road there was a median, and I hit against it with my front wheel. I was sliding along it and tried to correct it, but hit another rider and that was it. I landed hard. I jumped up quickly and checked everything, and I thought I was okay, but I am damaged all over. My hand is hurting so we will go for some Xrays tonight. Unlucky. But that's how it is."

Richie Porte:
“It was another tough and stressful day in the saddle but the guys were there with me as much as possible. We’ve only got two stages to go and there’s been no real change on GC since day one, so it’s all going to come down to tomorrow’s finish on the Madone."

Vicente Reynes:
“We succeeded in bridging back up to the pack of favorites ahead of the final. I have had good legs since the start of Paris-Nice. So I decided to try my luck when it came time for the sprint. Of course I am a bit disappointed with this seventh place, because we all wanted to finish at least on the podium if not win the stage outright. But I am also reassured by this performance thinking ahead to the upcoming classics.”

Alberto Contador:
"It was a demanding day in which we spent a lot of energy. Mont Ventoux came a bit early but we climbed with a good rhythm, setting the pace. The stage was very hard, as we also had to pay attention to the wind, but the squad did a good job of protecting me and we finished again safely.”

1 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 5:00:26
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 0:00:21
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
4 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre - Merida
5 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
6 Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
7 Vicente Reynes (Spa) IAM Cycling
8 Leonardo Duque (Col) Delko Marseille Provence KTM
9 Oliver Naesen (Bel) IAM Cycling
10 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
11 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
12 Kévin Reza (Fra) FDJ
13 Gorka Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team
14 Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data
15 Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale Pro Cycling
16 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
17 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
18 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
19 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
20 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 19:24:58
2 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:00:06
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:18
4 Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:23
5 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team
6 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
7 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team 0:00:28
8 Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling 0:00:29
9 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:00:31
10 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team
11 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:32
12 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:34
13 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:35
14 Gorka Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team
15 Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team
16 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 0:00:37
17 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team
18 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:41
19 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:42
20 Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:44

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