Paris-Nice 5: Madone d’Utelle

The sea, Nice's sandy beach. Ok, it's finally a race to the sun. The finish is atop a steep ramp but it's early to say how the peloton will arrive. 
80 km to go there is a break-away including Duchesne, Vachon, Terpstra, Gautier, De Gendt, Talansky, Rast and Grmay. They have only 2'10" but it's a good group...
Côte d'Ascros (1st category climb): Gregory Rast gets dropped.
Descent: Andrew Talansky crashes! The pain in his wrist is too much and he had to quit.
Côte de Levens (2nd cat, 6.2 km, 5.5% average). Only Duchesne and Vachon are still in front.
35.5 km to go Duchesne attacks and go solo.
30 km to go Contador attacks and Henao bridges. But they are quickly caught.
Duchesne is still leading but he has got just 39'. Behind Matthews is dropped!
There we go: La Madone d'Utelle (15,3 Km, 5,7%). Duchesne has been caught, the peloton split and Team Sky takes control of the front group.
The landscape is stunning!
10 km to go Majka attacks, Contador on his wheel. Thomas joins as well as Porte and Kelderman. A small group forms with Porte, Spilak, Zakarin, Rui Costa, Thomas, Nieve, Henao, Gallopin, Bardet, Yates, Contador, Majka, Ion Izagirre, Dumoulin, Jeannesson and Kelderman.
5 km to go Contador attacks. Thomas and Henao follow. Porte joins as well as Zakarin.
3 km to go Bardet closes the gap. Contador attacks again and brings away a few riders: Thomas, Henao, Porte and Zakarin. Yates bridges from behind.
1 km to go Porte attacks. Yates is dropped. The others follow. Now Thomas attacks, Zakarin on his wheel. Contador is slightly dropped. Porte definitely dropped. On the line Zakarin sprints on Thomas and wins for few inches.

Wilco Kelderman:
“The team lead me out perfectly to the final climb. It was crucial to be in front of the group during the downhill. That went well. We were riding in good position during the whole race.I’m fed up with that. I didn’t see it coming. I felt empty, suddenly. I haven’t been thinking about a quick eat during the final climb. I’m experienced enough to know how much I have to eat, so this is stupid. 13th in the general classification is not enough for me. It will be tough to make some difference during the final stage, but when I get the chance, I will try it.”

Steven Kruijswijk:
"That was a Nice stage today! I think we had 1k of flat roads, and that was a sprint towards the next climb!"

Edward Theuns:
"Think this was one of the hardest days in my still short cycling carreer! #ParisNice"

Luke Rowe:
"G man takes yellow! What a man. Big day tomorrow, let's bring it home boys 💪"

Wouter Wippert:

"I don't think there was one flat meter in today's stage. Unfortunately I didn't made it to the finish 😓 #ParisNice disappointed"

Richie Porte:
“It wasn’t a hard final climb, but it was a bit of cat and mouse. At the end of the day I’m happy with how the team were today. They were around me all day and put me in a great position. There’s one more day so we just have to see what happens. I don’t think it’s over yet.”

Geraint Thomas:
"The guys were amazing today, just as they have been all week. We had strength in numbers and everything went to plan. I want to thank them, and thank Sergio for committing fully to me at the end there because he could have got a result for himself today, that's for sure.
I didn't really know how my legs would be today because we haven't done any real climbs so far. Obviously, we did Mont Ventoux the other day, but that came near the start of the stage, and I'm happy I was able to respond to all the attacks.
Once I'd responded to a few, it gave me a lot of confidence - seeing guys like Richie get distanced - and then I tried to get ready for the sprint at the summit. I perhaps went a bit early there and couldn't hold off Zakarin at the end. It would have been nice to win the stage but to gain time of Alberto and Richie was really good.
We've got a huge stage tomorrow now. There's a lot of climbing and I know the roads really well. It's going to be very hard and a lot can still change. We can't tale anything for granted but I've got a strong team around me - probably the strongest in the race - and I'm in a great position.
Hopefully I can rest up tonight, eat well, have a good massage, and then it'll be all down to the legs tomorrow." 

Tom Dumoulin:
“It was a really hard day from the beginning and on the uphill finish I could not follow Condator. I almost came back but he attacked again and at the end I lost a little bit of time. I think, I am quite satisfied with my level at the moment. Tomorrow will be another hard day, Team Sky will probably control the race with Geraint Thomas in the leader’s jersey. For sure, Contador will try again and attack. The goal for tomorrow is to defend this GC position.”

Alberto Contador:
“It will be difficult. Sky has a strong squad and it will be complicated to upend the GC. We can't rule out anything, of course, but with the summit finish that cancelled on stage 3, I knew my possibilities were restricted. Geraint Thomas is strong and it will hard to take his spot."


1 Zakarin
2 Thomas
3 Contador +1
4 Porte +7
5 Henao +10
6 Yates +20
7 Costa +31
8 Bardet +31
9 Izaguirre +31
10 Gallopin +31
1 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 24:10:26
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:00:15
3 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:20
4 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:21
5 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:32
6 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:37
7 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky 0:00:39
8 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:44
9 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 0:00:51
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:00
11 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre - Merida 0:01:07
12 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:09
13 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:01:12
14 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:39
15 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team 0:02:32
16 Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:02:42
17 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:02:54
18 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:03:05
19 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:03:36
20 Gorka Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:39

No comments: