Paris-Nice: Tadej Pogačar completes emphatic GC victory with third stage win

Pogačar tops Tour de France rivals David Gaudu and Jonas Vingegaard after week of dominance in prestigious French race.

Photo: AFP via Getty Images

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Tadej Pogačar added another line to his palmarès with his crushing overall victory Paris-Nice.

Pogačar attacked Sunday on the Eze and rode solo to victory on the Cote d’Azur for what was his third stage-win of the race and the 54th of his young career.

The result will stand alongside headlining GC victories at the Tour de France, Tirreno Adriatico, and UAE Tour, and three monument wins.

“I always feel I’m good in the first race of the season. It was always my dream to also win Paris-Nice, so I’m happy that I did it, it’s incredible,” Pogačar said at the finish.

“I really know these roads, I do a lot of training here. So I knew exactly how my legs were on the Eze and how much I could spend to get to the top. I calculated it great.”

Victory in Nice also hands the 24-year-old dominator significant bragging rights over Tour rival Jonas Vingegaard after the Dane was repeatedly distanced in their first big match-up since last summer. Vingegaard finished up third, 1:39 back.

Rising French star David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ) completed a big week on home soil in second overall to land one of his biggest results to date.

“The competition here was huge,” Pogačar said. “To be alongside Gaudu and Vingegaard on the podium is special, they’re really top-class riders. If I don’t win anything until the end of the season, it’s still not bad, so I can be more relaxed now.”

Pogačar and his UAE team controlled much of the day Sunday, a rollercoaster-shaped blitz around the hills outside of Nice.

The Emirati crew set the pace in the GC group through the middle of the stage and reeled in Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) on the penultimate descent after the Dutchman darted solo out of the break at 50km to go.

Pogačar uncorked his perhaps inevitable winning attack some 20km from the line, 4km from the final summit of the Eze.

The Slovenian exploded away after Simon Yates (Jayco AlUla) tried to crack the deadlock on the Eze, and was never seen by his rivals again. Pogačar powered over the Eze and down the long descent into Nice as Yates, Vingegaard, Gaudu, and Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) chased – but only lost ground – behind.

Pogačar ripped to the final looking like he was on a coffee ride and relishing every moment as he hit the line 33 seconds ahead.

Vingegaard opened the sprint behind and held off a late kick from Gaudu to secure second on the stage.

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S7: Tadej Pogačar kicks for summit victory after Jonas Vingegaard tested

Pogačar won on the race’s key summit finish.

Tadej Pogačar kicked to emphatic victory on the headline summit finish of Paris-Nice.

Pogačar outsprinted Tour de France rivals David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) on the Col de la Couillole to score his sixth win in 12 days of racing in 2023.

The UAE Emirates’ captain’s huge surge for the line put two seconds into Gaudu and six into Vingegaard in just 200 meters as Pogačar scored serious pre-Tour bragging rights.

Pogačar now carries a 12-second GC lead into the final stage of racing Sunday.

“Today was one of the toughest battles for the finish,” Pogačar said at the line. “I went a bit early, but I didn’t want too many riders in the front. But in the end, it went perfectly how I imagined.”

Ineos Grenadiers had taken control some 30km from the summit finish in a mission to put UAE Emirates and Jumbo-Visma in difficulty.

The race briefly split and both Pogčar and Vingegaard looked short-handed only the peloton to swell ahead of the 16km grinder up to Couillole.

It was Jumbo-Visma’s TT star Tobias Foss that did the damage Ineos Grenadiers couldn’t deliver. Foss piled on at the front of the bunch through the first 10km of the summit finish to reel in the break and leave almost all of Vingegaard’s rivals isolated.

Vingegaard briefly upped the pace before Pogačar rocketed off the Dane’s wheel at 5.7km to go.

Pogačar dangled just five seconds ahead before Vingegaard and Gaudu bridged back a couple of kilometers later.

Gaudu moved a handful of times and put Vingegaard on the ropes with each acceleration. The Frenchman made a big kick just 2km from the line to distance the Tour de France champ.

Vingegaard initially looked done but rallied and clawed his way back to the lead pair inside the final kilometer.

The Dane opened up a burning sprint at 250 meters to go only for Pogačar to reply with a huge powerful acceleration that scored his second win of the week.

Paris-Nice wraps up Sunday with the race’s trademark explosive stage outside of Nice. Five categorized climbs are packed into an 118km day that typically delivers frills a-plenty.

“Tomorrow [Sunday] is another really hard day, perhaps the hardest of the race, but the climbs are better for me, so we’ll try to defend as hard as possible,” Pogačar said.

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S5: Olav Kooij beats Mads Pedersen in sprint finish

Olav Kooij won stage 5 of Paris-Nice
Olav Kooij won stage 5 of Paris-Nice. (Photo: Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images)

Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) took just the second individual WorldTour win of his career after outsprinting Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) into Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux on stage 5 of Paris-Nice.

Kooij had already tasted the champagne on a stage of the Tour of Poland last season, as well as a few days ago when Jumbo-Visma took the team time trial on stage 3 of Paris-Nice, but this sprint victory is the biggest victory of his young career so far.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) kept his race lead but saw it cut down to just six seconds after Arnaud Démare set up his teammate David Gaudu to get some bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint.

Pedersen opened up his sprint first shortly after the final bend with about 200 meters to go. The green jersey wearer, who beat Kooij to the line on day two, began to fade in the final meters. In the end, Kooij had more than enough left in the tank to beat Pedersen by about half a bike’s length with day one winner Tim Merlier riding to third.

“It’s really nice, I won a few races last year but this is definitely the nicest so far,” Kooij said at the finish. “I was a bit far [back] at the flamme rouge and then I took the left side at the last roundabout, which I think was a good choice. I came into quite a good position and Edoardo Affini flew by and I was in the wheel of Pedersen. This time, I was able to get out of his wheel.

“Coming second is not bad but it is the victories that count so I’m really happy that I could take the win today.”

After a slightly chaotic day Wednesday, the bunch took it far easier during stage 5 with a two-man breakaway going up the road very early on. The action only heated up as the race approached the intermediate sprint, which came with a little over 50km to go on the penultimate climb of the day.

Despite a very public falling out last month, Démare led out Gaudu to take the full six seconds on the Col du Deves. Démare crossed the line second, leaving Pogačar with just a two-second bonus available.

The peloton relaxed again until the final approach to the finish line, which was made all the more challenging with two roundabouts to negotiate. Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers) took the opportunity to try and go on a late attack but he was caught as Pedersen wound up his sprint with just over 200m to go.

After being beaten by Pedersen earlier in the race, Kooij wasn’t going to make the same mistake again and blasted past the Dane to take the win.

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S4: Tadej Pogačar drops Jonas Vingegaard to win stage, grab lead

Tadej Pogacar celebrates victory Wednesday at Paris-Nice after dropping Jonas Vingegaard in a key climbing stage. (Photo: DAVID PINTENS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) surged to stage glory on stage 4 of Paris-Nice to La Loge des Gardes, putting 43 seconds into his key Tour de France rival Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma).

Pogačar outkicked David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) to take the win on the summit finish after catching an earlier attack by the Frenchman with his own stinging move. The result puts Pogačar into the overall race lead with a 10-second advantage over Gaudu.

Vingegaard trailed in at 43 seconds behind Pogačar after he was dropped with around three kilometers remaining and eventually caught by several other riders.

It was the first time that Pogačar and Vingegaard have gone head-to-head on an uphill finish this season, and the results were telling.

“Today was really nervous all day, it was already really hard on the flat parts with the crosswinds,” Pogačar said afterward. “It was really chaos all day and then in the final climb Felix [Grossshartner] did a really good job and the team before set me up for the climb in a perfect way. I had good legs and I knew that we couldn’t give Gaudu too much so I decided to go all in to catch him, otherwise we wouldn’t win.

“When [Vingegaard] launched his attack, I thought he was super great, so I didn’t counter. I was waiting for the rest. In the end, it was really tough and I think he just missed a little bit to catch me and then he couldn’t close and then he cracked a little bit.”

The early part of the stage was battered by crosswinds which led to a long fight for the breakaway to go up the road.

Vingegaard initiated the hostilities on the final climb with just under four kilometers to go. The only rider that could follow his almighty surge was his main rival Pogačar, who clung tightly to his wheel.

The bunch had already been ripped to pieces by then thanks to the efforts of the UAE Team Emirates squad. Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) held on for as long as he could but popped dramatically as he almost ground to a halt.

Vingegaard had lost all of his teammates earlier on and he sought to rid Pogačar of his. The plan worked and the pair carried on together for a short while before the following group reeled them back in.

Gaudu was the next to take a flyer off the front and he gained a small margin of around 20 seconds before Vingegaard and Pogačar started tearing chunks out of each other again. This time it was Pogačar that made the move, distancing Vingegaard with just under three kilometers to go.

Vingegaard started clawing back the deficit but a second push by Pogačar cut loose the Dane. Pogačar joined forces with the attacking Gaudu, who immediately sat on his wheel and followed him all the way into the final kilometer.

On the chase, Vingegaard was soon joined by Gino Mäder but the Swiss man dropped the Jumbo-Visma rider inside the final kilometer. Meanwhile, Gaudu tried to get the jump on Pogačar at the front of the race, but the two-time former Tour de France winner had the measure of him and powered past him to take the win.

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S3: Jumbo-Visma nips EF Education-EasyPost by 1 second in TTT

Jumbo-Visma won the new-look team time trial (Photo by DAVID PINTENS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Jumbo-Visma won the battle of the squads at Paris-Nice, edging EF Education-Easy Post by just one second in the team time trial Tuesday.

There was some consolation as Magnus Cort took the leader’s jersey for the team. Neilson Powless moved up to seventh at 8 seconds back.

“Obviously, I am very happy,” Cort said. “It’s always a bit frustrating, when you are so close to winning, but you don’t get it, especially in a TTT. We still get something out of it with this jersey, but really it is the whole team who did the job. I am just one piece of the whole puzzle here. We all rode well. Otherwise, you can’t do a good team time trial like we did.”

Jayco-AlUla posted an early fast time, and settled for third at just 4 seconds slower on the 32km course.

There was more than just bragging rights on the line. Race organizers were testing out a new timing method, with the winning time taken at the first rider across the line, rather than the traditional fourth or fifth rider.

Each rider’s individual time still stood at the line, but the squad’s time was taken with the first rider across the line, giving Tuesday’s team time trial a tweak from the traditional model.

Some teams drove it to the line together, while others sent their fastest rider sprinting off the front. The jury is still out on whether or not the experiment is one worth repeating.

The stage certainly brings GC implications, with riders from Jumbo-Visma, EF, and Jayco AlUla bounding up the leaderboard. The 2022 Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard climbed more than 70 spots to settle into fifth overall at three seconds back.

“It’s incredible to have so many strong guys with me. We trained a few times before today and I think we did a good job both in the training and today,” Vingegaard said.

Tadej Pogačar, who was sprinting for time bonuses in the opening two stages to give himself a 12-second head start going into the TTT, slipped to eighth, now at 14 seconds back.

Paris-Nice changes gears Wednesday with the 164.7km fourth stage from Saint-Amand-Montrond to La Loge des Gardes, ending with a first-category summit (6.8km at 7%).


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S2: Mads Pedersen muscles out the victory

Pedersen wins the kick. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

Mads Pedersen (Trek Segafredo) kicked to victory Monday in the second stage at Paris-Nice.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) scooped another six bonus seconds to carry a 12-second head start on most of his GC rivals after two sprint stages in the “Race to the Sun.”

A crash took down a few riders within the closing 3km, but most of the top sprinters and GC favorites came through clean for a shot at the line.

“It’s nice to start the season well and Paris-Nice is a really nice race, so it’s nice to get a win,” Pedersen said. “It was a hectic sprint. We had 10km full straight and a round-about at the end. The team did a perfect leadout in the end. I am that I got it.

“It’s pretty nice to wear the leader’s jersey. I’ve never had it in a race like this,” he said. “It’s important tomorrow to do a good team time trial because we have Mattias Skjelmose for the GC.”

Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) took Pedersen to the line, but with time bonuses, the Dane overtakes the overall lead. Pogačar bounced into second, with overnight leader Tim Merlier now in third.

Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) kicked to third.

Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) rode in the best climber’s jersey, but Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X) snatched it away after riding into a lone breakaway in the first half of the stage.

Paris-Nice continues Tuesday with the 32.2km team time trial starting and finishing in Dampierre-en-Burly. Organizers are tweaking the format, and will take the time at the first rider, rather than the fourth or fifth rider as it typically is in a TTT.

With the way Pogačar is attacking the early time bonuses, is he expecting to lose time against the collective might of Jumbo-Visma in the TTT?

We shall see Tuesday.

“I am happy I gained a small margin, and I can be a little more relaxed tomorrow because it will be a really tough team time trial,” Pogačar said. “It’s quite a long time trial. You just need to focus on your team and do a perfect job.”

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S1: Tim Merlier bosses bunch sprint, Tadej Pogačar lands GC advantage

Merlier kicked to victory open Paris-Nice. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick Step) continued his early season stampede with sprint victory at Paris-Nice.

The Belgian champion won a scrappy sprint over Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mads Pedersen (Trek Segafredo) after a wild ride through the Verrière hills west of Paris.

With four wins already this season, Merlier has made his claim as the sprint pack’s alpha as he relishes life at his new Quick-Step team. He now wears the leader’s jersey into stage 2 on Monday.

“This is like a dream start, I can hardly believe it,” Merlier said at the line. “I’m really happy, and also with the team.”

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) scored opening bragging rights over Tour de France rival Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) by scooping the bonus points on the day’s final hilltop and taking the GC advantage.

Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) attacked repeatedly earlier in the stage before he went solo out of a fractured peloton at 15km to go. The U.S. star lasted out front for around 8km before being reeled in by the sprinter-laden peloton as Verrière reared into view.

Soudal Quick-Step kept cool through the final after Pogačar’s hilltop acceleration and brief breakaway to neutralize the threat and deliver Merlier toward the team’s 11th win of the season.

“I guess today I started feeling a bit shit, but every hour in I felt better. I hope the next days will be something similar,” Pogačar said.

The first true showdown between Pogačar and Vingegaard will arrive Tuesday at the innovative “first over the line” TTT of stage 3 or the next day’s hilltop final.

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