Race report

Frustrating finale after good teamwork all day at Paris-Nice

Paris-Nice

After yesterday’s individual time trial where the team took stage success with Søren Kragh Andersen, the bunch were faced with the longest stage of the race today, with 227 kilometres from Gannat to La Côte-Saint André on the menu.

A few probing attacks were made in the opening kilometres but it didn’t take long for a group of four to establish himself at the head of the race after ten kilometres of racing. The quartet quickly built up their advantage to just over seven minutes where it soon stabilised.

The sprint teams began the chase, working to bring back the break, with Chris Hamilton helping to set tempo at the front of the bunch for us. At the 50 kilometres to go mark the gap stood at three minutes and 20 seconds. Nico Denz also joined in the chase efforts and the downward trend continued throughout the rest of the day.

Attacks then flew from the bunch inside the last fifteen kilometres of the stage. Nikias Arndt was alert and rode strongly to cover the moves, before things were brought back to heel. Ahead, the breakaway continued to put up a good fight though, with Tratnik hitting out solo in the final few kilometres.

The team drilled the pace at the head of the peloton, riding to set up Cees Bol for the sprint finish and to bring back Tratnik who held a dangerous ten second lead underneath the flamme rouge. Coming into the final straight, Bol was blocked against the barriers and couldn’t fully open his sprint, missing out on the opportunity to go for a top result.

Despite today’s frustrating finale, the team still have three riders in the top ten on GC as the race heads towards the final three days of action. Tomorrow sees the bunch take on a tricky stage, with lots of climbing throughout the day.

“I think the bunch underestimated the break a little bit,” explained Tiesj Benoot at the finish. “We gave them seven to eight minutes at the start which was too much. With four strong guys in the break you know you’re in trouble, but we tried our best in what was a hectic finish.”

Team Sunweb coach Matt Winston added: “The guys committed really well to the chase in the end. It was a strong breakaway that got seven minutes and we chased pretty well throughout the day. As we came into the finish Cees and Michael were together but when it was time to open up the sprint Cees was blocked on the left and there was no way to get over to the right hand side. He didn’t really get his sprint out as we had hoped, so no top result for us today. It was a frustrating finale.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 BONIFAZIO Niccolò Team Total Direct Energie 5:18:02 60
2 GARCÍA CORTINA Iván Bahrain - McLaren ,, 25
3 SAGAN Peter BORA - hansgrohe ,, 10
16 BOL Cees Team Sunweb ,, -
21 MATTHEWS Michael Team Sunweb ,, -
39 KRAGH ANDERSEN Søren Team Sunweb ,, -
41 BENOOT Tiesj Team Sunweb ,, -
53 ARNDT Nikias Team Sunweb ,, -
72 EEKHOFF Nils Team Sunweb 0:20 -
108 DENZ Nico Team Sunweb 8:03 -
110 HAMILTON Chris Team Sunweb ,, -