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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 15, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. - Douglas Adams

Cycling's World Championships

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Paris-Nice wrap-up team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from final winner Max Schachmann's Bora-hansgrohe team:

Paris-Nice’s Queen Stage was also the race’s grand finale, with the cancellation of Sunday’s racing meaning that it was all going to come down to the 166.5km of stage 7. Those kilometres were going to be the hardest the riders would face, with four climbs, all of which were first or second category, and the last of these being the first category summit finish on La Colmiane – 16.3km long at 6.3%.

Knowing it would all come down to the result on the finish line, the break today included riders who could threaten Maximilian Schachmann’s position in the GC. Riding hard on the front, Michael Schwarzmann protected the GC leader over the day’s first three climbs, and with 20km to go, the gap had come down from almost three minutes to a minute and a half, the whole BORA-hansgrohe team pulling together to keep the pace high and reduce the advantage. The peloton had shed riders on the climbs, but Felix Großschartner and Austrian National Champion, Patrick Konrad, were riding in support of the yellow jersey in a select group. At the foot of the final climb, the reduction in the gap between the break and the peloton meant Maximilian was keeping hold of the GC lead, with the break’s advantage coming down as the stage moved into its final 5km it was just a matter of keeping calm and staying in contention.

A late attack for the overall win came to nothing, and as Maximilian crossed the line in sixth on the stage, the German National Champion knew that he’d won the biggest race of his career. Holding the overall lead the entire race after his win on stage 1, Maximilian could finally claim the 2020 Paris-Nice yellow jersey as his own – the second UCI WorldTour stage race win in BORA-hansgrohe’s history.

Max Schachmann

Max Schachmnn has won the 2019 Paris-Nice.

From the Finish Line:
"It's such a great feeling to win Paris-Nice but this was a very, very hard day. Felix Großschartner, Patrick Konrad and Michael Schwarzmann did a brilliant job today, they controlled the race by themselves. The finale was really hard for me, especially the last 3km were, honestly, very painful, like going through hell. But right now, I'm in heaven and every small pain in my legs is worth it. This is the fourth year of my professional career and this victory is certainly my biggest success so far and one of the most important steps. It feels so great because my whole life people were doubting I could be a GC rider and it was always my dream. Here I am now, having won one of the most prestigious one-week stage races." - Max Schachmann

"Today everything went according to plan, there was only one difficult moment when the lead of the break almost reached 3 minutes. But overall, the team performance of the guys was very strong on this demanding stage. With only 15 km remaining, we had only four riders in front to support Max, but we still managed to get the overall win. We can be very proud of Max and the performance of the entire team over the past seven stages. Paris-Nice is the biggest stage race the team has ever won.” - Christian Pömer, Sports Director

"Our win in the GC is a huge success for the whole team, and also the way the team rode today and over the past stages. They put in a very strong performance from the first stage onwards, and managed to defend the yellow jersey every day. Special thanks to all the helpers who made it possible for Max to win. Especially Patrick Konrad, Felix Großschartner and Michael Schwarzmann. Patrick and Felix did a particularly fantastic job on the final climb today. We controlled the stage from start to finish like a champion team, and the guys managed to do that, despite having a reduced team today. What they achieved is really something to appreciate." - Steffen Radochla, Sports Director

Here's the report from Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Julian Alaphilippe said before the start of the final day at the “Race to the Sun” that he just wants to have fun and the Frenchman stayed true to his words, being at the heart of the first attack, which came early. That move took the peloton by surprise and forced a response from the other GC contenders, who sensed an opportunity of putting pressure on the yellow jersey by going in the breakaway.

The situation at the front kept reshuffling until the first climb of the stage, Col de Vence, when another group extricated itself from the bunch, Alaphilippe being again the main instigator. Joined by several other men, the former Paris-Nice best young rider opened a three-minute margin over the chasers, which put him into the virtual lead, some 100 kilometers from the end of the stage. A new split occurred when the Milano-Sanremo champion attacked again, only five riders being capable of remaining with him, as the gap continued to hold at two minutes and a half.

Only inside the last 25 kilometers, the advantage began to come down, but only after a number of teams sent representatives at the head of the bunch and injected a different tempo. Julian kept pushing unfazed by this and another acceleration narrowed the group to just two men on the slopes of La Colmiane (16.3 kilometers, 6.3%), but his beautiful effort eventually came to an end with ten kilometers remaining. As the gradient stiffened, he was caught by the reduced yellow jersey group, from where Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) took the win, while Max Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe) sealed the overall victory.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe (shown racing the 2019 Tour de France) couldn't make his break last to the end of the stage.

Sports director Tom Steels made a review of Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s week at the French race, which Luxembourg Champion Bob Jungels concluded as our best placed rider: “We raced Paris-Nice under very special circumstances, but the riders did their best every day, they fought, and were always prominent at the front, shaping the stages. Julian kept attacking and went three times for a stage win, always giving his best, Bob also showed his good condition and tried something, Kasper took a solid top 3 finish in a hard individual time trial, while Sam was unfortunately put out of the race by a crash. We are content with the way we rode, but now we go home and wait to see what the rest of the season brings.”

Here's what Thomas De Gendt's Lotto-Soudal team had to say:

Thomas De Gendt rode a remarkable Paris-Nice. In the final stage he seemed to be on his way to the victory on La Colmiane but Nairo Quintana decided otherwise. He already showed his excellent shape during the individual time trial.

Thomas De Gendt

Thomas De Gendt at the 2019 Vuelta. Sirotti photo

“I am really glad we could ride Paris-Nice” Thomas De Gendt says. “Otherwise we would have trained that hard for nothing. It is still a great race even with a smaller peloton this year. To be honest, the race lost a bit of its splendour after several top teams had cancelled but every day was really a battle. Just look at the stage won by Benoot or also the final stage where the overall win was decided at the finish. Of course, I fully understand several teams forfeit. Each team makes their own decision which is respected by the other teams. If our team doctors would have decided that we couldn’t participate, we wouldn’t have. During Paris-Nice, we followed all directives very well and we only had close contact with the people from our own team so the risk of getting infected was minimal. Let’s hope the current situation will clear up as soon as possible and we can race again within one of two months.”

Meanwhile Thomas De Gendt and his colleagues will have to maintain their condition.

“But how? That is the question,” De Gendt asks. “We must discuss this with our trainer. The most difficult is especially: towards what do you train? Towards half May? Towards the Belgian Championship? Towards the Tour de France? It is a bit silly to peak for a certain date if there are no prospects. I think the Tour will take place; I am certainly aiming for it.”

On the final day of Paris-Nice, De Gendt almost stunted. After ten kilometres he was a part of the right breakaway which later consisted of nearly six men. On the final climb towards La Colmian he threw everyone overboard, Alaphilippe being the latter.

“I could tell by his face that he was at the end of his forces. I did not want to take any risk and left him behind. I didn’t intend to give him a free ride and yet, I did not believe in a victory anymore. I was almost at the end of my powers. In the leading group of six, Bettiol and Paret-Peintre were not cooperating and Perez was of no help on the climb. Eventually we did all the work with three men and after 150 kilometres, I had a lot of turns at the head of the group. I knew I had to have at least a 1-minute lead 3 kilometres before the finish. And then came Quintana, it was over and out for me. Nevertheless, I come back to Belgium with a nice feeling. I wonder for how long…”

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