Complete Live Report
Welcome to our live coverage of the 2018 Paris-Tours
- Paris-Tours race hub
- Paris-Tours 2018 preview
- Valverde unveils new world champion's kit
- Jimmy Duquennoy dies aged 23
Hello there. Paris-Tours. Arguably the biggest race outside of the WorldTour and a true end-of-season delight. The race is already underway and we'll be bringing you blow-by-blow coverage of all the action right here.
As we pick up the action, with just over 40km on the clock, a six-man breakaway has established a lead of nearly three minutes over the peloton. In there are:
Bernhard Eisel (Dimension Data)
Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie)
Thibault Guernalec (Fortuneo-Samsic)
Brian Van Goethem (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij)
Dries de Bondt (Veranda's Willems-Crelan)
Emiel Vermeulen (Roubaix Lille Metropole).
It was Eisel, Chavanel, and Van Goethem who went clear in the early kilometres and they were joined soon after by the other three.
A lot of people were talking about crosswinds this morning, as the race heads south from Chartres (yeah, like Roubaix, it doesn't actually start in Paris) towards Tours. And we've already had some echelon action. Sep Vanmarcke was caught out earlier, sending EF-Drapac into a bit of a panic, but they came back and the race has settled down once more.
Not only might we have echelons today, but we definitely have gravel tracks, which may just send the hipsters over the edge. There are 12.5km worth of the rough stuff, spread across nine sectors in the final 60km of the race, the final one ending 10km from the line. Did we mention, hipsters, that the off-road sections weave through vineyards of the Vouvray appellation?
And not only do we have gravel, but we also have more climbs (seven) in the finale. Paris-Tours has always been finely balanced between the sprinters and the baroudeurs, but these changes are likely to give us a more selective race, even if the total distance has been trimmed down to 214.5km.
Anyway, enough from me. Ellis Bacon has all the details in his in-depth race preview.
Here's the profile by the way. It should already be at the top of the screen, but just in case it's not...
- 154.5km remaining from 214.5km
After 60km of racing, the six leaders have extended their lead to 5:45.
Quick-Step and FDJ have been doing the work on the front of the peloton. The Belgian team have Tour of Flanders champion Niki Terpstra, former double Paris-Tours winner Philippe Gilbert (2008 and 2009), and Belgian champion Yves Lampaert, not to mention Fabio Jakobsen in the event of a bunch sprint. They, as ever, hold the keys to this race.
For FDJ it all looks to be about Arnaud Démare, who is a sprinter but sits somewhere in the middle of that sprinter-classics rider Venn diagram. Did you know... in the last 60 years only three editions of this race have been won by Frenchmen.
- 129.5km remaining from 214.5km
The pace has picked up in the peloton and the gap to the six leaders is down to 4:15.
Shout out to Sylvain Chavanel, taking to the breakaway in the final race of his 19-year professional career. A fitting end for someone who has spent so much of his time off the front over the years.
"At a certain moment you need to say stop. I know that for some of my supporters it's going to seem bizarre not having me around anymore. I didn't want to go on when it turned into a huge effort, I wanted to stop when I was still competitive."
That's what Chavanel told us last month. You can read the full interview here.
AG2R and Cofidis are also contributing at the head of the peloton. The former have a really strong card in Oliver Naesen, while the latter are working for sprinter Christophe Laporte.
Paris-Tours is for some reason always ridiculously fast.
The peloton is seven riders light today. That's because the WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic team withdrew following the tragic death of their rider Jimmy Duquennoy on Friday. The young Belgian died at home after suffering a cardiac arrest. It's simply devastating, and our condolences go out to Jimmy's family, friends, and teammates.
Duquennoy is the latest in a string of heart-related issues among pro cyclists, his death following those of fellow young Belgians Michael Goolaerts and Daan Myngheer in the last three years alone.
And today we bring you news that 20-year-old Vital Concept neo-pro Tanguy Turgis has had to abandon his career - just nine months in - after a heart irregularity was discovered this week. Awful news, but, especially in light of the names above, there's a sense of relief that it wasn't worse. Here's the story:
- 114.5km remaining from 214.5km
Back in the race and the peloton is continuing its charge. We're still a long way from the business end of this race but it's going fast, and the gap to the break - once up at almost six minutes - has come down to less than two minutes now.
Splits in the peloton!
The riders have just gone through the feed zone but there'll be no leisurely lunch today. This is probably the most exposed section of today's route and things are kicking off.
The peloton has split in two and there are around 30 riders in the second group with a small deficit.
The two groups come back together.
That flurry of action has seen the breakaway's advantage come down to one minute.
Plenty of riders were distanced there. Some are getting back in now.
The pace eases slightly and with the gap to the break just 45 seconds that's the cue for counter attacks and we have some riders - including Alex Dowsett - trying to bridge over to the front of the race.
Dowsett is with Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), and Johan Le Bon (Vital Concept) and they've made it across. That's now 9 in the break.
- 70km remaining from 214.5km
Things have calmed down in the peloton and the gap to the break has risen again to 2:30. It won't go up by too much more, though, as we're nearing the gravel and the climbs.
A glimpse of the upcoming gravel
Lotto Soudal are setting a strong pace at the front of the peloton now. They have Andre Greipel here, with other options coming from Jelle Wallays and Tiesj Benoot.
We're approaching the first climb of the day. It's the Côte de Nazelles-Négron. It has an average gradient of 6.7% but is only 600 metres long.
- 61.5km remaining from 214.5km
The breakaway riders hit the climb with a lead of 1:30.
No big moves in the peloton, though some find themselves distanced.
Some more gravel snaps from France Television's Marion Rousse.
- 55km remaining from 214.5km
Lotto Soudal continue their work and they're joined now by Sunweb. AG2R still working as well, with FDJ prominent, too.
The peloton is strung out and they're only 30 seconds behind the nine leaders.
The first of the nine gravel sectors is coming up in a few kilometres' time and, like in the spring classics, everyone wants to be well positioned.
Well positioned being at the front. And obviously not everyone can be there... and we have a crash.
A Fortuneo rider is flung into a ditch at the side of the road. It's a dramatic one but should be a soft landing. Riders from Sunweb and Wanty are on the deck in the road but appear ok to continue.
Here we go then. The breakaway hit the rough stuff.
- 49km remaining from 214.5km
The first sector is down as sector 9, as we're counting down à la Paris-Roubaix. It's at the Chàteau de Valmer (these are all in and around vineyards) and it's 500 metres long.
Guernalec is dropped from the break as they come off sector 9.
There's no respite before the start of sector 8. It's the Vallée de Raye and it's also 500m long but also climbs slightly.
A fair few splits in the peloton already.
Devriendt kicks on in the break and De Bondt follows. The peloton is catching the others, though, and they're only 20 seconds behind the two leaders.
- 46.7km remaining from 214.5km
De Bondt and Devriendt lead the race off sector 8 with a lead of 10 seconds.
Yves Lampaert is driving a small group clear off the front of the peloton. Vanmarcke is there too.
Laporte has been dropped and is in a group of stragglers. Cofidis have been working but it doesn't look like it'll be the Frenchman's day.
The front of the peloton is now closing in on Devriendt and De Bondt. There are around 30 riders in there.
Dylan Groenewegen has also been dropped. That's another sprinter seemingly taken out of the equation.
- 41.5km remaining from 214.5km
There's a lull now and some riders make it back to that front peloton. Greipel and Demare are in there.
The riders hit the second climb of the day, the Côte de Gougenne, and Terpstra goes on the attack.
The climb is short but it's followed by the third gravel sector, so this is a key part of the race with just under 40km to go.
And onto the dirt they go, and this is the longest sector at an aching 2.5km. It's known as the Grosse Pierre and the surface doesn't look too bad.
Terpstra sparks a move involving several riders. He has a Quick-Step teammate with him, while Sunweb, FDJ, and both Lottos also have a representative.
Naesen has missed out and leads the chase behind.
Terpstra calls for collaboration but Vanmarcke ostentatiously sticks his panting tongue out. Gilbert was the other Quick-Stepper but he's just lost contact.
It looks like a mechanical for Gilbert, who is caught and passed by the AG2R-led chase group.
Gilbert finds a teammate and orders his rear wheel. Now begins the chase back on.
It's Soren Kragh Andersen up front for Sunweb, Jelle Wallays for Lotto Soudal, Valentin Madouas for FDJ, and Pascal Eenkhoorn for LottoNL. Plus Terpstra and Vanmarcke who we've already mentioned.
But as I write that, and as the riders come over the Cote de Monfort (the third climb of the day) and onto the Monfort gravel sector (the fourth of the day but 'number 6'), the chase group comes back.
The stones here are really thick and the riders have to slow almost to a standstill as they round a 90-degree left-hander.
Andersen refused to give up and has continued this effort alone.
Puncture for Wallays.
Puncture for Greipel now. Nightmare for Lotto Soudal.
This is a bruising sector and the race has split considerably once again.
- 33.3km remaining from 214.5km
Andersen swings onto the tarmac and sees Terpstra latch onto his wheel.
Terpstra and Andersen lead the race, while behind them a five-man chase group has established itself. In there is Naesen, Vanmarcke, Eenkhoorn, Jose Goncalves (Katusha) and one other from St Michel Auber 93.
More riders get over to the chase group, including Lampaert, Jos Van Emden (LottoNL), Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R), and Jesper Asselman (Roompot). It's Damien Touze for Auber 93, by the way.
Onto the Côte de la Rochère, and Naesen attacks the chase group in pursuit of Terpstra and Andersen.
Démare is still in the mix, dangling off the back of that chase group. His FDJ teammate Madouas is also up there.
Cosnefroy has countered Naesen's acceleration and is chasing down the two leaders.
Madouas, Naesen, Vanmarcke, Touze, and Martijn Tusveld (Sunweb) have formed a chase group at 20 seconds.
Gilbert finds himself 1:15 from the front of the race.
- 25.3km remaining from 214.5km
Cosnefroy makes the junction as they hit the next gravel sector - number 3.
Lampaert has been dropped from that chasing group, too. Quick-Step don't seem to have the luxury of options they normally do.
- 24km remaining from 214.5km
So, we have three leaders
And 9 chasers (at 30 seconds)
Onto the next climb, the Cote de la Vallee Chartier, and Madouas and Naesen have clipped off the front of that chase group.
And now onto sector 2 of the gravel - Peu Morier (1.6km).
Vanmarcke accelerates now and joins Naesen and Madouas.
The chase group of Madouas, Naesen and Vanmarcke is not making inroads. 38 seconds is the gap now to the three leaders.
Two climbs and one gravel sector remaining.
Terpstra looks really strong, and Andersen looks comfortable, too. Cosnefroy looks the least at ease but he had a lengthy solo chase and is the least experienced, riding his first full season as a pro after winning the U23 Worlds last year.
Cosnefroy is glued to the back of this leading trio, and Terpstra knows exactly what he thinks of that. The young Frenchman, though, is the only one with a teammate (Naesen) behind, and so he has some justification for his lack of contribution.
If Terpstra barked at me to come through.... I probably would. Fair play to Cosnefroy for standing firm. He's the big underdog from the three and his only chance of winning here is to put as much of the burden as possible on the other two.
- 16km remaining from 214.5km
With 16km to go the three leaders have a lead of 35 seconds over the chasing trio of Naesen, Madouas, and Vanmarcke.
The Demare group is slipping back and they've been joined by another group at over a minute from the front of the race.
Gilbert and Wallays are two of the riders who have joined up with the Demare group. They both might have been up front but for untimely mechanicals.
- 14km remaining from 214.5km
Naesen is riding harder now. At first he was leaning on Madouas and Vanmarcke, arguing that he had Cosnefroy up the road, but now he appears more willing to help close the gap, even if it is to his own teammate.
- 13.5km remaining from 214.5km
The gravel has given us a completely different Paris-Tours to what we're used to, and it's almost over. This is sector number one, it's called Rochecorbon, and it's 800m long.
The gap between the two leading trios extends to 41 seconds, and it looks like the winner will either be Terpstra, Andersen, or Cosnefroy.
Both trios come off the gravel for the final time. Up next is the final climb of the day - the Cote de Rochecorbon - ahead of the 10km run to the line.
- 11km remaining from 214.5km
Terpstra leads them up the climb. Andersen comes through. Cosnefroy...doesn't. Terpstra deliberately leaves a gap and forces the Frenchman to at least spend some time second wheel.
Naesen, Madouas, and Vanmarcke are at 43 seconds.
Terpstra puts Cosnefroy on the front...
Terpstra comes through for a turn now, but Andersen is already away.
Kragh Andersen is on the flat roads that run alongside the Loire. He has 8.5km to go and is essentially in time trial mode.
Terpstra and Cosnefroy don't look like they're at full tilt there. A surprising lack of reaction to such a dangerous late play from Andersen.
There's no official time gap between Andersen and Terpstra/Cosnefroy.
Naesen, Vanmarcke, and Madouas are now at 1:02.
Behind them, Gilbert and Benoot have attacked the exapnded chase and are trying to track down the Naesen group.
- 6km remaining from 214.5km
6km to go and Andersen has his arms folded over his bars. He's panting hard but his body is stable as he gets the power through the pedals efficiently. He looks good for this.
Andersen finished second behind Trentin last year but looks to be on his way to the top step of the podium.
- 4.3km remaining from 214.5km
25 seconds is the gap!
Gilbert and Benoot have caught Naesen, Vanmarcke, and Madouas to form a chase group of 5 (the third group on the road).
Terpstra does a turn and has to call Cosnefroy through. He obliges.
It's too little, too late, though. Andersen has 3km to go and 24 seconds in hand.
The Gilbert chase group is at 1:14 and definitely out of the podium equation.
Final 2km for Andersen, and the gap is still 25 seconds.
Andersen claimed a first WorldTour win at the Tour de Suisse earlier this year but this might just go down as his biggest win in his three years as a pro.
- 1km remaining from 214.5km
Flamme rouge for Andersen.
The Dane can enjoy this run-in. He's into the final few hundred metres and he's still hunched over his bars but this is in the bag.
And now the arms come up from the bars. He looks over his shoulders and punches the air with both arms.
Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) wins the 2018 Paris-Tours
Here comes the sprint for second...Cosnefroy goes early.
Terpstra comes round and takes second place.
Gilbert leads the chase group into the home straight but it's Naesen who opens the sprint, and he takes fourth place.
"I didn't really believe this was possible," says Soren Kragh Andersen.
"had some tough weeks after the Tour de France, but I was focused today and I really wanted it. I'm super happy with the outcome. It was an awesome parcours. Some guys say it's dangerous but you have to adapt to it.
"I can almost not believe it. It's an interesting win for me, a first classic. I could only enjoy it 100 metres before the line. The last 10km was super hard, but it was worth it. I'm really surprised and happy for it because the best of the best are here. It's crazy."
1 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb 4:37:55
2 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:25
3 Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
4 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:14
5 Valentin Madouas (Fra) FDJ
6 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
9 Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij 0:01:24
10 Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo