photo credit @ Paris – Nice
Kristoff was the strongest
excerpts from Paris -Nice
Alexander Kristoff (KAT) is the fastest sprinter in this Paris-Nice so far. The Norwegian surged in the finale to outgun his rivals and comfortably clinch the 196.5-km first stage of the Race to the Sun, his fifth victory of the season. Kristoff was a little too fast for Frenchmen Nacer Bouhanni and Bryan Coquard, who had to be content with podium places on this long and sometimes sluggish ride marked by the crash of Tom Boonen, forced out of the race with a broken collarbone.
Prologue winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx) retained his overall lead.
Hivert takes KOM jersey
The race started without Frenchman Geoffrey Soupe (COF), regular lead-out man for Nacer Bouhanni, who gave up sick. With the only climb of the day, Cote de Bel Air, located only 3 kms after the start, action started from the gun and France’s Jonathan Hivert (BSE) was the quickest to tackle the ascent and take the four points on offer as well as the first polka-dot jersey in this edition. Hivert went on just long enough to win the first intermediate sprint (km 19) before being chased down at kilometre 33.
Delaplace and Voeckler lead the way
In the sprint, John Degenkolb (TGA) and Michael Matthews (OGE), the two best placed sprinters in the GC, made their ambitions clear by clinching one and two seconds respectively, to move within reach of the overall lead.
Five kilometers after the junction, Hivert’s team-mate Anthony Delaplace surged in turn, only to be joined at kilometer 39 by Thomas Voeckler (EUC). The peloton, riding sluggishly, happily let them go and the pair held a lead of four minutes at kilometre 50. Their maximum lead reached 6:10 after 100 kms.
Boonen breaks collarbone
The chase, mostly led by Etixx Quick Step riders, played cat and mouse with the two escapees and went under the minute in front of the Chambord castle. Some 17 kms from the finish line, one of the main protagonists for a final sprint, Tom Boonen, crashed heavily and stayed on the tarmac. He was forced to give up with a broken left collarbone.
The second intermediate sprint was taken by Delaplace ahead of Vockler, Geraint Thomas (SKY) going for the third place.
Kristoff steals the show
The two escapees tried boldly to accelerate in the finale but the peloton, at once caught off-guard, reacted and reeled them in with 1.5 kms to go. The Orica Greenedge and Giant Alcepin trains took shape but there was nothing to do against Kristoff, who took Bouahnni’s wheel and surged in the last stretch to add new laurels to the ones collected in Qatar and Oman.
Stage 1 Results
NOR 1 KRISTOFF, Alexander (KATUSHA) 5:15:18
FRA 2 BOUHANNI, Nacer (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS)
FRA 3 COQUARD, Bryan (EUROPCAR)
AUS 4 HAUSSLER, Heinrich (IAM CYCLING)
ITA 5 NIZZOLO, Giacomo (TREK FACTORY RACING)
ESP 6 ROJAS GIL, Jose Joaquin (MOVISTAR)
NED 7 HOFLAND, Moreno (LOTTO NL – JUMBO)
ITA 8 BONIFAZIO, Niccolo (LAMPRE – MERIDA)
GBR 9 SWIFT, Ben (SKY)
AUS 10 MATTHEWS, Michael (ORICA GreenEDGE)
SLO 11 BOZIC, Borut (ASTANA)
SUI 12 DILLIER, Silvan (BMC RACING)
FRA 13 DEMARE, Arnaud (FDJ)
BEL 14 VANGENECHTEN, Jonas (IAM CYCLING)
GER 15 DEGENKOLB, John (GIANT – ALPECIN)
BEL 16 BAKELANTS, Jan (AG2R LA MONDIALE)
DEN 17 MORKOV, Michael (TINKOFF – SAXO)
DEN 18 BRESCHEL, Matti (TINKOFF – SAXO)
GER 19 GREIPEL, André (LOTTO SOUDAL)
BLR 20 HUTAROVICH, Yauheni (BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT)
POL 21 KWIATKOWSKI, Michal (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
GBR 22 THOMAS, Geraint (SKY)
BEL 23 HERMANS, Ben (BMC RACING)
FRA 24 ALAPHILIPPE, Julian (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
NED 25 KELDERMAN, Wilco (LOTTO NL – JUMBO)
BEL 26 MAES, Nikolas (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
NED 27 DE KORT, Koen (GIANT – ALPECIN)
NED 28 DUMOULIN, Tom (GIANT – ALPECIN)
FRA 29 DUMOULIN, Samuel (AG2R LA MONDIALE)
AUS 30 PORTE, Richie (SKY)
General Classification after Stage 1
POL 1 KWIATKOWSKI, Michal (ETIXX – QUICK STEP) 5:22:58
AUS 2 DENNIS, Rohan (BMC RACING)
GER 3 MARTIN, Tony (ETIXX – QUICK STEP) + 7
GER 4 DEGENKOLB, John (GIANT – ALPECIN) + 9
ESP 5 SANCHEZ GIL, Luis Leon (ASTANA) + 10
NED 6 BOOM, Lars (ASTANA)
AUS 7 MATTHEWS, Michael (ORICA GreenEDGE)
FRA 8 CHAVANEL, Sylvain (IAM CYCLING)
NED 9 DUMOULIN, Tom (GIANT – ALPECIN) + 13
GBR 10 THOMAS, Geraint (SKY)
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