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Wind and rain make for a tough action-packed opening stage in Paris-Nice

Sun 5 Mar 2017

 

The opening stage of Paris-Nice was an action packed one with wind, rain and echelons causing havoc and creating significant splits within the peloton.

The race fragmented into groups after a challenging cross-wind section where ORICA-SCOTT found themselves caught out, as a small bunch of riders broke free and successfully stay away until the finish line in Bois-d’Arcy.

Arnaud Demare (FDJ) was the eventual stage winner attacking from the reduced front group with Simon Yates crossing the line one-minute and four seconds down.

“It was a hard, hectic nervous day today,” explained sport director Laurenzo Lapage. “We were there trying to keep Simon in a good position, of course we didn’t make that front group but sometimes that’s just how it goes.”

Despite missing the front split, the team worked hard riding on the front determined to reduce the time gap to the leaders and finish the stage in a good position in an attempt to keep Yates in contention for the overall.

“The guys continued to work consistently to bring the front group back,” Lapage continued. “Some of the others saw the race was over but we kept pushing and in the end kept Simon up there as best we could.”

“If you now look at the time gaps, Simon is still in a good position for the overall. There were only a few general classification riders who where in the front group that are going for the overall, so he is not so far behind. 

“If he can have a good time trial then he will still have a good chance.”

How it happened:

The so called ‘race to the sun’ opening stage was predicted to be one for the sprinters however, the windy 148kilometre day concluded very differently than expected.

The race began with an attack of four riders who opened up an advantage in the initial kilometres and with the weather not detering their spirits quickly established a sizeable advantage, eventually gaining a lead over five-minutes.

After 50kilometres of racing, the wind really began to disrupt the peloton with gaps opening up and echelons forming in a tough cross wind section.

26riders quickly got into formation, putting the race into the gutter and began to break away. ORICA-SCOTT found themselves in the main chase group behind, hovering around 30seconds a drift but unable to make contact.

Eventually the initial four-rider escapees were swallowed up by the organised front chase group which subsequently continued to increase their advantage to over one-minute over the ORICA-SCOTT group.

Aware of the danger, the team headed to the front of the group with riders such as Simon GerransMagnus Cort and Mathew Hayman putting in a lot of effort to try and bring the leaders back. 

Their advantaged dropped down to under one-minute but in the end it proved to be to much and the stage concluded with riders crossing the line in numerous small spaced out groups.

Paris-Nice stage one results:

1. Arnaud Demare (FDJ) 3:22:43
2. Julian Alphilippe (Quick-Step Floor) ST
3. Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha-Alpecin) +0:09
24. Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) +1:04

General classification after stage one:

1. Arnaud Demare (FDJ) 3:22:43
2. Julian Alphilippe (Quick-Step Floor) +0:04
3. Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha-Alpecin) +0:15
23. Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) +1:14

Photos courtesy of ©TDWsport.com

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