Simon Yates finishes sixth on a tough stage in Paris-NiceSat 12 Mar 2016
23-year-old Simon Yates showed his class on the climbs today to finish sixth on the penultimate stage of Paris-Nice.
The final 15km of today's stage was a tough ascent towards a summit finish in La Madone d'Utelle. Yates was amongst the big names finishing strongly, moving him up to eighth place on the general classification with one stage remaining.
"It was a really good race," explained sport director Laurenzo Lapage. "With Matthews we knew it would be a hard day, but we had Simon ready waiting and then going with the best climbers. For a young guy it's a really great ride."
With Matthews successfully retaining the yellow leaders jersey for six days, Lapage was pleased with what ORICA-GreenEDGE has been able to achieve this week in France.
"We have achieved a lot so far," Lapage continued. "Holding onto the leader's jersey for so long, having two stage wins and now Simon in the top ten, it's been really great. If Matthews doesn't have a bad crash or too many problems tomorrow then he should win the green sprint jersey also."
"I think if we had said before Paris-Nice we would have these results and the whole team working so well, then we would have been really happy. It's been a really great week for us so we are pleased with the whole performance here."
How it happened:
A sunny day saw the riders start the penultimate stage along the seafront in Nice. The stage took a little longer than previous days for the breakaway to establish, eventually doing so around the 20kilometre mark.
Seven riders formed a lead as they headed over the Côte de la Sigale climb and maintained a gap of over two minutes. As the race proceeded through the remaining climbs, two other riders bridged across to leaders creating a nine man group.
The riders worked well together to open up their advantage but as the peloton began to progress through the stage they worked to reel in the escapees.
Similar to the previous stage, Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie) decided to try his luck once more and rode away from his breakaway companions. With only 32km remaining the solo leader held a lead of one minute over the chasing peloton.
On the penultimate climb of the day - Côte de Duranus, a second category climb - Team Sky set a hard tempo to split the large main group. Consequently Dushesne was swallowed up and riders began to drop of the back of the pack.
After a solid six days of racing for Matthews, the pace created on the steep climb proved too hard for the two-time stage winner to contend with. He fought hard but eventually dropped back to the second chase group.
Yates showed his world class climbing ability by staying in contention as the front group began to slowly decrease in numbers as they climbed the steep slopes.
16 riders remained at the front of the race as they headed to the summit finish of the first category climb. With 5km remaining Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) made a strong attack taking with him two Team Sky riders. As they settled into a rhythm two more riders were able to rejoin the trio and the race was on.
The final two kilometres approached and Yates continued to dig deep, successfully working his way back up to the leading five. In the final 500metres the pace lifted once again with Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha) taking the stage victory.
Yates finished the tough day in a respectable sixth place moving him up to eighth overall and now sitting 44seconds behind the race leader, with fifth to eighth place only seconds apart.
Tomorrow, the fianl day of raicng at Paris-Nice, riders will face a 134km stage which includes six climbs.
Paris-Nice stage six results:
1. Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha) 4:45:11
2. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) ST
3. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) +0:01
6. Simon Yates (ORICA-GreenEDGE) +0:20
Paris-Nice general classification after stage six:
1. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) 24:10:26
2. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) +0:15
3. Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha) +0:20
8. Simon Yates (ORICA-GreenEDGE) +0:44