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Crash mode activation stalls Cavagna attack at Paris-Nice

CHIROUBLES FRANCE MARCH 10 Remi Cavagna of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Luis Leon Sanchez Gil of Spain and Team Astana Premier Tech during the 79th Paris Nice 2021 Stage 4 a 1875km stage from ChalonSurSane to Chiroubles 702m ParisNice on March 10 2021 in Chiroubles France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images
Remi Cavagna of Deceuninck-QuickStep had mechanical halt his late attack on stage 4 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep) suffered a second frustration in the space of 24 hours at Paris-Nice as his late attack on stage 4 was brought to an abrupt halt when he got stuck in the wrong gear. 

The Frenchman was attempting to rebound from the disappointment of the previous day's time trial, where he finished second by a mere 0.83 seconds, having had to touch the brakes when passing his minute man. 

On Wednesday's hilly stage, he looked to steal a march on the climbers and overall contenders, clipping away with Astana-Premier Tech's Luis León Sánchez ahead of the steep final climb. However, on the early slopes, 7km from the top, Cavagna slowed up and lost contact with the Spanish champion.

It was soon apparent he had problems with his gears and he pulled over to receive a hand from the Shimano neutral service vehicle, but by that point, the peloton was on its way past. 

"I didn't feel too bad, I was in the group of favourites before the last climb, and I said 'come on, I have to anticipate now', because à la pédale it would be a bit difficult to do anything. So I tried, but I had a mechanical problem just before the really steep part," said Cavagna.

The Frenchman initially thought the battery had died but closer inspection from the Deceuninck-QuickStep mechanics showed that crash mode had been inadvertently activated, which meant his rear mech was locked in place to avoid damage.   

"I no longer had access to my gears. I was stuck in a big gear, and it's difficult to climb like that," said Cavagna.

In any case, the 25-year-old wasn't too despondent, suggesting that the odds of him pulling off a victory against the likes of eventual winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) were slim. 

"I gave it a go, but that's cycling. Luck wasn't on my side today, but I showed the legs are there," he said, 

"The time trial was my first big goal of the season and I was up there, even on a tricky course. Today, I had bad luck, and too bad, but I'm happy with how my race is going."

Paris-Nice continues on Thursday with a flat stage to Bollène before three hillier stages bring the race to a conclusion.

"We've got a nice stage to come with our sprinter Sam [Bennett]," Cavagna said, "and why not take my chance on one of this hillier stages and maybe go all the way."