Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) put himself into the driving seat in the general classification of Paris-Nice, after taking victory in the final open stage of the race. The Frenchman attacked on the final ascent of the day the Côte de Peille, holding off the chasers on the slippery descent to win by 32 seconds.
The result put Gallopin into the yellow jersey with a 32-second advantage over Richie Porte (Team Sky) – who crashed twice during the stage – with previous race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) poised to attack from third place. Not a noted time triallist, Gallopin will have a fight on his hands to defend the jersey but he’s ready to do just that.
“It’s fantastic. I came here to finish in the top 10 and now I’m in a position to win Paris-Nice,” Gallopin said after the stage. “It’s more than I could expect. But the conditions were pretty favourable. When I saw it would rain this morning, I was rather happy. I know Col d’Eze extremely well. I must have climbed it at least 20 times in training this winter. It’s not too hard a climb – it’s not exclusively for climbers.”
The final Col d’Èze time trial may only be 9.6 kilometres but the uphill race against the clock is long enough to take significant chunks out of a 32-second lead. The now traditional time trial last featured in the 2013 edition of the race where Porte was the victor on the day by 23 seconds over Andrew Talansky to take the overall race win. Mechanical problems have put Talansky out of GC contention this year but Porte is well within striking distance and should be the favourite for the overall win.
Third placed Kwiatkowski is no slouch in the time trial either, taking the victory in the opening chrono. After leading the standings for much of the race, Kwiatkowski is not giving up on the victory just yet. “This race is not over yet. A lot can happen in an uphill time trial, even if it is only 9.6 kilometers. I will try to finish strong and the race is still open,” he said.
Col d'Èze start times
|4||Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky||12:34:00|
|11||Christian Meier (Can) Orica GreenEdge||12:41:00|
|53||Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||13:23:00|
|54||George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNL-Jumbo||13:24:00|
|61||Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team||13:37:00|
|67||Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step||13:39:00|
|69||Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team||13:41:00|
|71||Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||13:42:00|
|84||Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing||13:54:00|
|91||Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team||14:01:00|
|92||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo||14:02:00|
|93||Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||14:03:00|
|94||Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||14:04:00|
|95||Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr||14:05:00|
|96||Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling||14:06:00|
|97||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal||14:07:00|
|98||Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team||14:09:00|
|99||Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lampre-Merida||14:11:00|
|100||Simon Spilak (Slo) Team Katusha||14:13:00|
|101||Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida||14:15:00|
|102||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team||14:17:00|
|103||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky||14:19:00|
|104||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step||14:21:00|
|105||Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky||14:23:00|
|106||Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal||14:25:00|