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Monday, March 7, 2022

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Paris-Nice Stage 1 reports

We posted the organizer's stage one report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Christophe Laporte's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Team Jumbo-Visma has started Paris-Nice in an unprecedented way. In the opening stage of 'the race to the sun’, Christophe Laporte won the stage. His teammates Primoz Roglic and Wout van Aert completed the podium.

Jumbo-Visma takes the podium. Photo: ASO/Alex Broadway

Before the race, Wout van Aert spoke of a treacherous stage as the course included a short but steep climb just before the finish. "The last climb can be too hard for the sprinters. It would be good for me if we get a hard race and I can sprint", the Belgian champion had said before the start.

After the three-riders breakaway was caught at ten kilometres from the finish, Team Jumbo-Visma dictated the race.

Rohan Dennis and Mike Teunissen pulled hard at the front of the peloton towards the day's final climb. After Teunissen had delivered his teammates in an ideal position, Nathan Van Hooijdonk took the initiative. He accelerated with Laporte, Roglic and Van Aert in his wake and tore the peloton apart. Soon after, Laporte accelerated again, allowing the trio of Team Jumbo-Visma to reach the top of the final climb first, and with five kilometres to go, the three teammates maintained their lead on the peloton.

For Laporte, it was his first victory in Team Jumbo-Visma’s yellow and black jersey. "I am thrilled. As a French rider, Paris-Nice is a big race for me. The plan was to keep Primoz in the classification and sprint with Wout. I was allowed to attack to make the race hard, which I did, and only the three of us remained."

Van Aert called the successful coup exceptional. "We had the plan to make the race hard on the climb. We thought this could be a good move for my winning chances and Primoz's classification. Christophe took over from Nathan so fiercely that we put everyone on the limit. I was surprised only three of us were left. Then it was a matter of racing to the finish as fast as possible. I think this is an extraordinary victory for Christophe in his own country. Also because of the yellow jersey that comes with it. I wanted to give him this victory."

Frans Maassen looked at his winning team from the team car. "We had hoped for Wout to win, but this outcome was unprecedented. The plan was to be well-grouped at twelve kilometres. That was Rohan’s task and he did it in a formidable way. Subsequently, Mike and Nathan did an excellent job as well. Laporte was going to attack as hard as he could on the climb to see what would happen and we saw how that ended up."

Maassen looked ahead towards the rest of the tour with confidence. "We have a strong team. This is a first blow and a nice victory. Let's enjoy this, but the goal is to go for the GC with Primoz of course."

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report:

Paris-Nice, the 8-day-long race towards the sun, kicked-off with a 159.8 kilometre long stage just outside Paris today, a flat and fast stage with a good chance for the sprinters to get the race going. The breakaway of the day was brought back at 74 kilometres from the line. Felix Großschartner was involved in a crash with 40 kilometres to go and unfortunately had to abandon the race with a broken collarbone. In a very hard and stressful finale, three riders were able to get a gap to the first group and fight for the win by themselves. Ultimately C. Laporte was the fastest.

“That was a classic Paris-Nice stage today, very hard and very stressful. I’m super happy with how we worked as a team during the stage. We were very well positioned at the crucial points and the guys did a great job to support me. In the end I just didn’t have the legs on the final climb before the finish and couldn’t follow. I’m definitely not at 100% yet but I feel an improvement and that’s what I’m happy about today. Let’s see what the next days have to offer!“ Sam Bennett

“I’m happy for Aleksandr Vlasov today, in a very stressful race he made it to the line without losing too much time in the GC. The finale was really hard and we also had to deal with crashes and a bit of bad luck and so weren’t able to be there and play a role in the decision of the race. With Felix Großschartner we unfortunately lost a very important rider in the support of Aleksandr Vlasov and Max Schachmann. His loss really hurts! Even though this wasn’t a really good day for us, we will fully focus on the next stages now. I’m sure it’s going to be an exciting week in France.“ Torsten Schmidt, Sports Director

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Here's the Paris-Nice report from Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

Mantes-la-Ville, a small town in the Yvelines department, located some 50 kilometers from the country’s capital, welcomed the bunch for the start of the 80th edition, which got underway Sunday afternoon with a 159.8km stage that on paper should have belonged to the sprinters, but witnessed a completely different scenario four hours later.

The peloton about 20 kms into the stage. Photo: ASO/Alex Broadway

The day’s main difficulty was always going to be Côte de Breuil Bois Robert, a 1.2km climb averaging 6% which awaited the riders inside the final ten kilometers. Before reaching its bottom, two breakaway groups animated the stage, both being caught thanks the effort of a coalition of teams, including Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, whose Iljo Keisse did again a top job.

When the pace intensified on the final hill of the stage, the likes of Fabio Jakobsen and Zdenek Stybar were in a good position as the group was thinning out with every meter ticked off. The latter responded to a sudden acceleration that came 700 meters from the top and managed to remain with the small group that rode clear from the peloton until close to the top of the hill. While at the front Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) claimed the victory, what was left of the peloton arrived some 20-odd seconds later, and Florian Sénéchal sprinted to his second top 10 of the season, after last weekend’s ninth place in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

And here's the Paris-Nice report from Team Groupama-FDJ:

One team proved to be stronger than the others on stage 1 of Paris-Nice, this Sunday. Apart from that, David Gaudu did what he needed to in order to conclude this very nervous stage with the race’s other main favourites. Following a great support from his teammates throughout the day, the French climber crossed the line twenty-two seconds behind day’s winner Christophe Laporte. The opening was intense, but he got through it pretty well.

With the 80th edition of Paris-Nice starting on Sunday, many riders could finally take on their first big objective of the season. And it all started with a slightly hilly first stage, which still very much interested the sprinters. The breakaway did not get such enthusiasm since only two men got away from the very first seconds. Matthew Holmes (Lotto-Soudal) and Aimé De Gendt (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert) paved the way for almost two hours while the bunch did not let them enjoy such a large lead. The margin even dropped back faster than expected about mid-way through the race due to a rise of tension, and therefore a sudden acceleration, within the peloton. Therefore, the leading duo was caught with more than seventy kilometres to go.

For about thirty minutes, the bunch remained quite nervous as everyone tried to stay in the front positions despite not such a strong wind. “It was a typical first stage of Paris-Nice where there is always a bit of wind but also traffic islands almost everywhere knowing that we are often in urban areas”, said Philippe Mauduit. “And when you leave the urban area, you find yourself in the plain where you have to face the wind. It is therefore always difficult to understand and to experience this kind of stage”. Following this first hectic sequence, the peloton eased off a little and allowed a trio made up of Frederik Frison (Lotto-Soudal), Alexis Gougeard (B&B-KTM) and Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana-Qazakstan Team) to take the lead.

This trio made it to the final circuit around Mantes-la-Ville with a small lead of one minute as the bunch started to really pace up. In these last thirty kilometres, Olivier Le Gac, Quentin Pacher, Kevin Geniets and Stefan Küng, one after the other, maintained David Gaudu in the first positions. This especially allowed the young man from Brittany not to be caught behind when the bunch really stretched out with about twelve kilometres to go, just before the climb of Breuil-Bois-Robert (1.2 km at 7%). Right from the bottom, the Jumbo-Visma team set a supersonic rhythm, and nobody was able to follow. At the top, Wout van Aert, Primoz Roglic and Christophe Laporte formed the leading group, followed by a small peloton including David Gaudu.

The Dutch team’s trio was not seen again in the remaining five kilometres and the victory was given to Laporte. The Groupama-FDJ’s leader finished twenty-two seconds later together with Valentin Madouas, Quentin Pacher, and the rest of the favourites. “It was a nervous day, as we expected”, summed up David. “The team worked very well for me all day. I’m happy, the feelings were pretty good for a first day of racing. We knew the finale was going to be punchy but that it was going to be hard to make a gap. Jumbo managed to do it, so congratulations to them”. “Today, they were stronger than the rest”, confirmed Philippe. “As far as we are concerned, the guys were where they needed to be, when they needed to be, in order to protect David. It’s positive. They did a very good job today. David comes in the right peloton with the leaders, so it is still a good day”. But new obstacles should come on Monday. “I’m already focused on tomorrow’s stage where they forecast some wind,” concluded David.

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Arnaud De Lie sprints to victory in GP Monseré

Here is the report from De Lie’s Lotto Soudal team:

Lotto Soudal-rider Arnaud De Lie has won the Grand Prix Jean-Pierre Monseré. The 19-year-old Belgian was the fastest of a reduced peloton, after an impressive display of teamwork. With a mighty acceleration De Lie beat Dries De Bondt and Hugo Hofstetter. For De Lie this is his second victory as a neo-pro, after he already won in the Challenge Mallorca.

Arnaud De Lie gets his second pro win. Photo: Maxime Van der Wielen

In the GP Monseré the riders were served four laps of 50 kilometers with some small uphill sections. In the final lap, the peloton accelerated, causing the bunch to split up into several smaller parts. Sprinter De Lie was present in the first group, assisted by Cedric Beullens, Jasper De Buyst and Florian Vermeersch. They positioned De Lie perfectly, making sure he had the opportunity to make his decisive move at the right moment.

Obviously, De Lie was in cloud nine after his victory. “Of course I am super happy with this win. The goal of the team was to win today. It feels amazing to able to succeed”, was his first reply after his win. “Without the great teamwork this would not have been possible. I really have to thank my teammates. They brought me to the finish line in perfect position. Jasper De Buyst did a great lead-out and after I went at 250 meters to go, I was able to finish the job. As a 19-year-old, it feels great to have the support of the entire team. This was the second time I could go for victory and for the second time I was able to get the win.”

“What the following races will bring? We’ll see, I take it one race at a time. Without stress and by committing fully to racing. If I am able to get any more victories this year: even better. My first pro-victory on Mallorca was special, but this one ranks even higher. A victory in Belgium is always a bit more special.”

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Team BikeExchange-Jayco to target stage wins at Tirreno-Adriatico

The team sent me this update:

Team BikeExchange-Jayco will go hunting for stage wins as a versatile squad full of fast finishers, puncheurs and time trialists heads to Tirreno-Adriatico, starting tomorrow.

Italian time trial champion Matteo Sobrero will wear the tricolour jersey on the opening stage time trial and will be hoping for a strong general classification showing on home soil.

Sprinter Kaden Groves will look to continue his impressive early season form in the Middle-East as he targets the sprint finishes, with Michael Matthews also back in action after crashing out of Strade Bianche on Saturday.

All-rounder Lawson Craddock and Tsgabu Grmay will add valuable support to the seven-rider line-up, while Alex Edmondson and Alexander Konychev will play vital roles in the fast finishes.

Tsgabu Grmay racing in the 2019 Tour of Switzerland

The racing kicks-off with a 13.9km time trial followed by a mix of chances for fast men, hilly stages, and the Queen Stage to Carpegna, where the peloton tackle a double ascent of Monte Carpegna – 6.2 kilometres at 9.6% – before descending to the line.

Team BikeExchange-Jayco Line-Up:
Lawson Craddock (USA)
Alex Edmonson (AUS)
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH)
Kaden Groves (AUS)
Alexander Konychev (ITA)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Matteo Sobrero (ITA)

Matteo Sobrero:
“I’m thrilled to make my seasonal debut in Italy with my new team wearing the Italian time trial champion jersey. I have a fair condition due to the crash consequences at the Vuelta a Andalucia, which made me lose almost a week of preparation.

"My goal remains to get a good result overall, but I will see how the feeling and conditions are day after day. In addition to the TT, I also like the two hilly stages and especially the Queen Stage with the double ascent of Monte Carpegna”.

Gene Bates (Sport Director):
“The goals for us this week are to target stage wins. We have both Kaden and Michael in very good shape, and both coming out of very good preparation periods.

"Kaden has done some great racing in the Middle-East, and it will be good to see how this translates into Tirreno. We also have Matteo Sobrero, who will be riding for the GC here, his preparation has been a little hindered, however, we are looking forward to seeing what he can do here.

"The route it’s a little different this year, with the final time trial moved to stage one. Outside of this, we are probably looking at three sprint stages, two hilly stages, and then obviously the Queen mountain stage on Saturday. I think it’s a well-rounded route, and I think we have good options for almost every day.”

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