Paris-Nice: Primož Roglič withstands pressure to seal GC, Simon Yates scores consolation stage-win
Simon Yates piles on pressure with attack over final climb only for Wout van Aert to play superdomestique and keep Roglič's GC bid alive.
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Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) won the overall at Paris-Nice after withstanding the pressure of a searing solo attack from Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco).
Yates attacked over the final climb of a fast, frantic stage around Nice on the mission to overturn a 47-second GC deficit. The Brit wasn’t able to do enough to scoop overall honors, but did enough to score the stage-win.
Wout van Aert played superdomestique for Roglič through the final, towing his captain through the closing 20km to keep Yates in check and secure the classification title for Jumbo-Visma.
Van Aert and Roglič finished second and third on the stage, nine seconds back, leaving Roglič a 29-second winning margin and banishing the demons of his disaster ride at Paris-Nice last year.
“I don’t go without a bit of drama,” Roglič said. “It was super hard this last one, but I have to admit, it was easier and I’m more happy than the final stage last year.
“I have to thank the whole team, but especially Wout here at the end – half-human, half-motor. He can do everything.”
Yates finished second overall after his bold bid to wrestle the yellow jersey from Roglič in what was an aggressive day of racing.
Daniel Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers) finished third on the final podium after his GC challenge deflated due to a puncture that dropped him out of the lead group.
The attrition of a race ravaged by illness continued to soar Sunday. A further eight riders pulled out ahead of the start, with Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) the big names to pull out.
Only 88 of some 150 starters rolled out for the final stage, and a handful more pulled the plug early in a day of cold, wet, aggressive racing around the hills of Nice.
It took around 30km of all-action racing before nine went away of the second of the day’s five categorized climbs.
A searing pace from Jumbo-Visma soon reeled in the escape and split the bunch to bits, with just two dozen riders in the front on the third climb of the day.
Ineos tried to work a move at 50km to go when just van Aert was left with Roglič.
Martínez attacked on the penultimate climb of the stage only for van Aert to counter, bringing Roglič, Simon Yates, and Nairo Quintana with him. The acceleration also dropped Ineos co-captain Adam Yates as the team lost one of its options.
Van Aert’s “MVP” ride set in motion as the burly Belgian towed the five leaders to a one-minute gap over the rest of the bunch.
Ineos’ GC challenge was deflated at around 30km to go when Martínez suffered a rear-wheel flat and lost some 45-seconds in a fumbling neutral-service change. With just Simon Yates and Quintana left in the front, Roglič and van Aert only had to focus on the Brit as a GC threat.
Van Aert pulled for Roglič all the way through to the final climb of the day, the iconic Col d’Eze.
Yates escapes on the Eze
Quintana was on a mission to score the stage after starting out of classification reach. The Colombian tried twice on the Eze only to be reeled in both times.
Yates went next, and this one stuck.
The BikeExchange captain pulled away from the chasers and took 20 seconds over the Eze summit ahead of the downward-tilting final 15km.
Both Roglič and Quintana began to labor after Yates’ huge acceleration. Quintana dropped as Roglič clung to van Aert’s wheel, who continued pulling to keep his captain’s GC bid alive.
Yates kept motoring hard on the roads into Nice as he looked to gain as much time as possible over the Jumbo-Visma duo.
Roglič rallied in the final 10km and began sharing turns with van Aert as the two TT engines chewed into Yates’ advantage. It looked like Yates would be denied, but the Brit went into the final kilometers with a handful of seconds and held out for his consolation stage-win.
Results will be available once stage has completed.