The seventh stage of Paris-Nice was a tale of two Colombians as Daniel Martinez (EF Education First) claimed the stage win on the Col de Turini and Egan Bernal (Team Sky) stepped into the yellow jersey of race leader.
The battles for yellow and for the day’s victory were fought separately as a large 39-man breakaway, which included Martinez, escaped up the road over the stage’s early climbs. The peloton kept them at close quarters initially, holding them at around 2:30 for some time, before letting the rope slack.
As the stage reached its denouement, the 39 became just four as Martinez went up against Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis). Each took their turn to try and distance his companions, but it was Martinez’s attack under the flame rouge that did the intended damage. The Colombian took six seconds out of Lopez as he rode to the line for the biggest win of his young career.
Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) had been in the breakaway group, and with just 2:01 of a deficit to race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), he stood a chance of taking yellow into the final stage. However, the Belgian Classics man really struggled on the final ascent on the Turini and it was clear that he didn’t have enough to maintain the gap he needed.
Kwiatkowski had looked comfortable all day, but he slipped back as they climbed the Turini. There was no panic from Team Sky with Bernal sitting in second place and primed to take the lead from his teammate. Bernal did just that, riding to the line with Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who sits in third place overall.
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