Paris – Nice stage eight: Antunes and De Marchi in the breakaway on final stage in France
Paris – Nice drew to a close with an explosive day in the mountains around Nice, which saw Amaro Antunes and Alessandro De Marchi in the breakaway before the race came down to an intense finale.
The peloton faced one last gruelling challenge in France today with six categorized climbs tightly packed into just 110 kilometers of racing: the Côte de Levens, Côte de Chateauneuf, Col de Calaïson, Côte de Peille, Col d’Eze and the Col des Quatre Chemins.
As in previous years, the final, short but sharp stage of Paris – Nice saw a large group of riders come together at the front of the race after multiple attacks in the opening kilometers of day.
Antunes and De Marchi flew the flag for CCC Team in the 37-rider breakaway that was able to open up an advantage of one minute 45 seconds going over the top of the second climb.
Shortly after Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-SCOTT) attacked to go solo before being joined by Tejay van Garderen (EF – Education First Pro Cycling) and Julien El Fares (Delko Marseille Provence).
At the halfway point of the race, the trio was sitting 30 seconds ahead of the chasing group, which still included Antunes and De Marchi, and two minutes ahead of an already reduced peloton.
The CCC Team duo continued to work well together but, with the General Classification contenders’ teams pushing hard behind them, the race situation changed quickly.
At the top of the Col d’Èze, with 27 kilometers to go, Antunes and De Marchi we’re sitting in the reduced yellow jersey group while, ten riders, who would eventually go on to fight for the stage win, hovered 50 seconds up the road.
As the battle for overall victory heated up, Antunes and De Marchi lost contact however, they continued to push on, riding their own pace to finish line.
De Marchi was CCC Team’s best-placed rider, finishing just outside the top twenty, around one minute 40 seconds behind solo stage winner, Ion Izagirre (Astana Pro Team), while Antunes crossed the line shortly after.
Quotes From the Finish Line
Alessandro De Marchi:
“The last stage at Paris – Nice is always crazy and the best way to deal with it, is to be out at the front of the race, in the action. Otherwise, it’s even more difficult. I maybe missed a couple of key moments today. The first was when the group of 15 riders went off the front of the breakaway. I wasn’t ready for that move at the time but then I started to feel a bit better. Then again, on the last climb, I lost contact with the yellow jersey group just 500 meters from the top. I was really close to staying with the best. However, in the end, I am happy with my Paris – Nice and I think this race is the best way to round off the opening part of my season and I think this week will prove to be a key building block for me.”
“It’s been a hard week and today was a really tough way to end the race but I felt good. I am happy with the work I have done here and the shape that I am coming out of the race in. Now, I feel like I can look forward to my next races, knowing that I did some good racing here.”
Paris – Nice
Stage 8: Nice > Nice (110km)
Top 3: 1. Ion Izagirre (Astana Pro Team) 2. Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) 3. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb)
CCC Team Top 3: 23. Alessandro De Marchi 29. Amaro Antunes 43. Víctor de la Parte
Top 3 on GC: 1. Egan Bernal (Team Sky) 2. Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) 3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)
CCC Team Top 3 on GC: 27. Alessandro De Marchi 29. Amaro Antunes 43. Víctor de la Parte
Tirreno Adriatico stage five: GC battles lights up on steep climbs
17 March 2019, Recanati (ITA)
Greg Van Avermaet was CCC Team’s first rider across the line on a brutal day of racing at Tirreno-Adriatico, where the short, steep climbs in the finishing circuit wreaked havoc on the peloton.
The 180-kilometer stage from Colli Al Metauro to Recanati was described as a ‘wall climbing stage’ due to three laps of a finish circuit that featured the Porta d’Osimo and San Pietro climbs, where the peloton would face maximum gradients of 20 percent.
Nathan Van Hooydonck was part of a ten-rider breakaway that, like on stage four, was able to extend a sizeable advantage of more than seven minutes in the first half of the stage but once the race entered the finish circuit, the peloton quickly began to bring the group back.
Attacks from the breakaway on the second ascent of the San Pietro saw the group split and with the steep gradients taking their toll, Van Hooydonck was unable to maintain contact.
Behind, Van Avermaet had the support of his teammates in the rapidly-reducing bunch but the third round of climbs proved too difficult and with the General Classification contenders starting to attack each other, the peloton exploded.
Van Avermaet was in the third group on the road while up ahead, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) had bridged to the remaining breakaway riders as they crossed the finish line for the third time, to start the last lap.
Fuglsang attacked with 15-kilometers remaining and was able to hang on to take the solo win, in front of race leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT), while Van Avermaet crossed the line in 26th place, 3’44” behind.
Although this year’s edition has lacked a long summit finish, the short steep climbs of stages four and five have proved to be just as brutal and decisive, before the sprinters and time trialists have their chances on the final two stages respectively.
Quotes from the Race Car:
Valerio Piva, Sports Director:
“It was always going to be difficult for us to do something on this kind of parcours. You saw that all of the contenders in front were Grand Tour contenders. Greg was good, he was able to stay there and he was not far behind the group of contenders, but it was not possible to stay there. Our objective was to try and win the stage but when Greg saw that he was not able to stay with them, he didn’t fight unnecessarily. We still have two stages to go but these are not stages suited to us. Stage six is one for the sprinters and then there is the time trial on stage seven. I’m happy with what I have seen this week. We are coming out of the race with healthy riders with good legs and condition. Milan-San Remo is not far so we also need to thing about this and recover well for the race and also the upcoming Classics.”
Stage five: Colli Al Metauro > Recanati (180km)
Top 3: 1. Jakob Fuglesang (Astana Pro Team), 2. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT), 3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma).
CCC Team top 3: 26. Greg Van Avermaet, 39. Michael Schär, 46. Joey Rosskopf