Simon Yates misses the overall victory in Paris-Nice by just four secondsSun 11 Mar 2018
Yesterday’s stage winner Simon Yates fought hard to defend his overall lead in Paris-Nice today, but came agonisingly close and had to settle for second place, missing out on the overall victory by just four seconds.
Despite Mitchelton-SCOTT’s efforts to bring back Marc Soler (Movistar), who rode away from the reduced front bunch in the final 50kilometres of the stage, it proved to be too much, as he crossed the line 35seconds ahead of Yates, enough to steal the race victory.
Soler battled it out with David de la Cruz (Team Sky) and Omar Fraile (Astana) in the final kilometres into Nice with De La Cruz coming out on top to claim the stage victory.
Short but tough
The final stage was just 110kilometres in length but challenging with four second-category climbs and two first-category climbs. The race began with testing conditions with heavy rain at the start line and the action kicked off immediately on the first climb of the day.
The peloton split and a front leading group of 24riders formed over the top of the climb with Yates, Roman Kreuziger and Chris Juul-Jensen represented for Mitchelton-SCOTT. Matteo Trentin made his way back up to the group shortly after two riders, Julian Alaphillipe (Quickstep-Floors) and Omar Fraile (Astana) attacked away from the group.
The two leaders sat around 50seconds ahead and on the first category climb the, Côte de Peille, before Fraile attacked again and led solo.
The race winning move came from Soler (Movistar) and De la Cruz (Team Sky) who jumped away from the front group and bridged across to Fraile causing a huge threat to Yates for the general classification. With 30kilometre to go the trio led the race by one minute 10seconds, making Soler the virtual race leader on the road.
Mitchelton-SCOTT aware of the danger started to chase hard with the riders remaining in the front, Juul-Jensen and Trentin, as they descended the penultimate climb. The chase group continued to shrink and eventually Yates was left batting in an attempt to claw back every second possible. In the end it was just four seconds too many and a second place for the British climber.
Simon Yates - Second place overall
“It was just one of those days, really hard from the start and the team did a really good job. We did as much as we could do, it was a really aggressive race as we expected.”
“When Marc Soler went on the attack there was still a very long way to go and still many rivals to watch and I can't watch or follow everybody, so you have to take the risk sometimes. Then in the final I didn’t have the legs to close the gap enough. I was just really empty in the final there and it is just one of those things.”
“Soler did a really good ride, and I congratulate him, he is a very good rider and we have known that for a long time already."
“I had the stage win yesterday and I am getting closer to winning an overall. I lost Tour of Romandie last year on the last stage in the time trial by 20 or 30seconds and now I have lost Paris-Nice by four seconds. I am getting closer, hopefully I can keep improving and working hard and one day I’ll take the top spot but today a great rider won.”
Dave McPartland - Sport Director
“There’s nothing more Simon could have done in the final. He was riding the last two thirds of the final climb all the way chasing, but just couldn’t close the gap. It is always disappointing not to win but we have to be happy with this week, how the guys have been riding together each day and of course yesterday with Simon winning the stage and moving into the jersey. We can be proud of all our efforts this week.”
Paris-Nice stage eight results:
1. David de la Cruz (Team Sky) 2:53:06
2. Omar Fraile (Astana) ST
3. Marc Soler (Movistar) +0:03
6. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:38
Final general classification:
1. Marc Soler (Movistar) 30:22:41
2. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:04
3. Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) +0:14
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.