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Paris - Nice 2016: Stage 7

Welcome to our live coverage of the final stage of the 2016 Paris-Nice. Only 134 km from Nice to Nice, but this race is far from being decided!

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Here we are again, having finally arrived at the sun in Nice! This may be the last stage, but it is anything but an easy one, with six ranked climbs along the way.

The sharp start today will be at 11:25.

 

Let’s take a look at our GC ranking. Geraint Thomas (Sky) leads by 15 seconds over Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), with Ilnur Zakarin in third at 20 seconds. Only one second back is defending champion Riche Porte (BMC). Any one of them could take the title today!

The race has started, and with only 143 riders. Alexander Kristoff (Katyusha), Davide Cimolai (Lampre), Patrick Bevin (Cannondale) and Jacques Janse von Rensburg (Dimension Data) all deciding to skip the final stage.

Here are our climbs for today, thanks to letour.com:

Km 33.0 - Côte de Duranus
, cat. 3

Km 41.0 - Côte de Levens
, cat. 3

Km 55.5 - Côte de Châteauneuf
, cat.2 


Km 69.5 - Col de Calaison
, cat. 2


Km 86.5 - Côte de Peille
, cat.1


Km 118.5 - Col d'Èze
, cat.1 


Those climbs will give the top favourites a good chance to slug it out today. Look for the moves to be made on the final climb, the cat 1 Col d'Eze. It is not a mountaintop finish, though, so the real action may come on the descent. Let's hope that no one takes too many risks.

 

We certainly saw some fireworks yesterday, as the top favourites went head to head – but only on the final climb, and only to be foxed by an outsider! Katusha’s Ilnur Zakarin outsprinted Geraint Thomas (Sky), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and a fading Richie Porte (BMC) to take the win atop La Madone d’Utelle.

127km remaining from 141km

A group of 18 riders has pulled away and has a 45 second gap.

 

Oops, lets make that only 19 seconds, and it looks like all the jerseys are in that group. So we don't think it will get away.

 

124km remaining from 141km

Things seem to be a in a constant state of flux here. We now hear that Bono, Grmay, De Gendt, Wellens, Gautier, Impey, Kiserlovski, De la Cruz, Eiking, Herrada, Kangert, Van Baarle, Fellline, Rast, Chavanel, Duchesne, Tankink, Naesen and Sorensen have 35 seconds on the field, while a group of six is giving chase.

Canadian Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie) was in yesterday’s break group and collected points at five of the seven mountain rankings. He now leads the mountains competition with 56 points over Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), also in that break group, who has 35 points. But we have a lot climbs today, as well. So far, both Duchesne and De Gendt are in the break group and will go all out to win the honour of taking the polka dot jersey home with them.

De Gendt takes the first intermediate sprint, ahead of Jesus Herrada and Gregory Rast.

113km remaining from 141km

After 28 km, the 19 leaders are 1.20 ahead of the six chasers, who are 1.00 ahead of the peloton. Sky is full at the front of the field.

Those six riders in-between are Trofimov, De Kort, Calmejane, Brammeier, Van Marcke, and Lemoine.

The gap is now over three minutes, with those other six still dangling about halfway in between.

 

We are enjoying good weather here in Nice, but they are not so lucky over in Italy. Tirreno-Adriatico was forced to cancel its Queen Stage today due to snow, snow, and more snow.

No surprise, Duchesne took the mountain points at the Cote de Duranus, ahead of De Gendt and Herrara.

De Kort and Calmejane have been dropped by the chase group, and Trofimov seems to have attacked out of the group.That leaves Vanmarcke, Lemoine and Brammeier together.

 

101km remaining from 141km

Trofimov, Calmejane and Vanmarcke have made their way to the first group.Brammeier and Lemoine are still in between, and the peloton is 2:50 back.

 

100km remaining from 141km

The points at the Cote de Levens went to Duchesne, De Gendt and Rast.

 

Meanwhile Brammeier has pulled slightly away from Lemoine in chase of the lead group.

 

Brammeier has worked his way up to the lead group, giving us 23 there. Lemoine is only 40 seconds back, and the field at 3.05. We are 50 km into the stage.

 

We are enjoying good weather here in Nice, but they are not so lucky over in Italy. Tirreno-Adriatico was forced to cancel its Queen Stage today due to snow, snow, and more snow.

Giant-Alpecin’s Bearded Wonder, Simon Geschke, turns 30 today! Perhaps the German will try to duplicate his feat in the Tour de France and win another mountain stage as a gift to himself.

We have passed the third of the day’s climbs, the cat. 2 cote de Chateauneuf, with the points once again going to Duchesne, De Gendt, Herrada, Impey and Van Baarle.

And still Team Sky is pulling the entire peloton along behind it on these mountain roads.

Duchesne now needs only one more point to secure the overall mountain ranking.

Brammeier may have overdone it in trying to reach the head group. He has now fallen out of it and is nearly a minute back.

Andrew Talansky was amongst those who abandoned yesterday. The Cannondale rider crashed out, but was happy to report he was not really injured, just needed a few stitches.

 

 

Congratulations to Antoine Duchesne, who has now won the overall mountain ranking for the 2016 Paris-Nice. The Canadian riding for Direct Energie won the day's fourth climb, the Cote de Salaison, ahead of De Gendt, Herrara and Bono. He does have to finish the stage, of course, but that shouldn't be a problem.

 

We hear there has been a crash in the field, with Lutsenko amongst those hitting the ground. 

 

71km remaining from 141km

After racing 70 km, we have the lead group ahead of Brammeier by 2:25 and the peloton 1:10 behind him.

 

Speaking of the jerseys, letour.com says that Michael Matthews is assured of the points jersey, as long as he simply finishes the stage.

 

Vanmarcke and Rast have lost contact with the lead group, leaving 20 riders there. Brammeier is apparently back in the peloton. After 81 km, the lead group has 3:25 on the field.

 

On the ascent of the cat. 1 Cote de Peille, Contador has attacked out of the field and now has 30 seconds.

Up ahead, Kangert has attacked out of the lead group, while De Gendt and Duchese, having settled the question of the polka-dot jersey, have dropped back.

 

We now have six riders in the lead: Gautier, Wellens, De La Cruz, Herrada, Kangert and Grmay.

As far as we can tell, no one has gone after Contador. He has 24 seconds, but there is still quite a long way to go.

Of course, if Contador can make it up to the lead group, he will have the advantage of two helpers there: Kiserlovski and Trofimov.

 

Contador now has a minute on his rivals in the field!

 

51km remaining from 141km

We have a group of six in the lead, followed by a group of 10.

More important is the group of five which is 1:45 behind the first group: Contador, De Gendt, Duchesnne, Bono and Tankink.

The peloton, with Sky at the head, is more than a minute back, at 3:48.

 

 

 

 

It looks like Kiserlovski and Trofimov have dropped back to help Contador.

 

With less than 40 km to go, Sky has seen the danger and is driving hard. The gap is now under a minute.

 

Herrade won the top points on the Cote de Peille. There is still one intermediate sprint and one more cat. 1 climb to go.

 

With 36 km left, the Contador group is 1:26 down with the peloton at 2:01.

 

Six riders who were chasing after falling out of the lead group are now back in it, so we have 12: Gautier, Wellens, De La Cruz, Herrada, Kangert, Calmejane, Chavanel, Impey, Van Baarle, Naesen, Felline and Grmay.

Contador at 1:22 and field at 1:52.

 

Impey took the intermediate sprint, ahead of van Baarle and Gautier.

 

Nicholas Roche has put in a massive effort at the head of he peloton and thanks to his efforts, the field is on the verge of catching Contador.

 

The Contador group is doggedly holding on to its small lead.

 

The field hs caught Contador, as the lead group now explodes.

 

Two burned-out Sky helpers have now dropped back.

 

De la Cruz and WEllens alone in the lead.

And Contador attacks again! But without success.

 

 

The two leaders have 32 seconds as Contador goes again.

 

And once again he is reeled back in.

 

And again! The Spaniard is determined to win!

 

And the others are equally determined not to let him go.

 

Wellness alone in the lead, as Bardet and Contador attack!

 

And we still have 20 km and a cat 1 climb to go!

 

41 seconds for Wellens now, as Tinkoff leads the favourites group

 

17km remaining from 141km

Majka is really turning up the speed. He's got Contador in his wheel and they're gapping Thomas. 

Porte has joined up with Contador as Majka drops off. He's got 12 seconds on Thomas at the moment. 

 

 Thomas has been dropped! A teammate is back to help him but Contador has good time on him now.

Contador and Porte cross the mountain ranking line together.

 

Contador and Porte have caught Wellens on the descent. Thomas at 33 seconds. 

 

Porte does much of the lead work in this descent. 

 

Thomas is in a group of four, with Henao his only teammate.

 

Thomas gradually making time, the gap is now 25 seconds 

 

Everyone is really tearing down this descent. Let#s be careful please! and we have 9 km to go!

 

These guys are flying!

 

5.8 km and 17 seconds!

 

 With 2.7 to go the gap is now just 9 seconds. Thomas is giving this everything. 

There are bonus seconds at the finish though, so this is anything but over. 

 

Thomas is now trying to bridge the gap on his own. 

 

Up front, it's Contador that leads under the flamme rouge

 

Thomas can see Contador up the road

 

It's going to be very close

 

Wellens wins Contador second

 

Thomas finishes 7 seconds back and takes the overall title

 

 Wow! We expected fireworks today and we really got them!

Thomas wins the overall title by only four seconds over Contador.

 

Top Ten on the stage:

1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 03:16:09

2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo

3 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky

4 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 00:00:05

5 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge

6 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr

7 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida

8 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team

9 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

10 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team

And the final GC for the 2016 Paris-Nice:

1 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 27:26:40

2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:00:04

3 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 00:00:12

4 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 00:00:20

5 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:37

6 Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Team Sky 00:00:44

7 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge

8 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 00:00:51

9 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:01:00

10 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida 00:01:07

 Here you can see our brief results and brief report.  More to come!

Here is what stage winner Wellens had to say: "It was a good opportunity for me to go with Contador and we were full gas all the way to the line. This is a great victory, a very great victory."

And here are Thomas' thoughts on the day: "When he went on Peille at first I stuck with the team. I felt good, I felt strong. But when he went halfway up the Col d’Eze my legs just gave way. It was horrible. I thought that it was all over and then I got dropped from the other group and I thought I was going to struggle to stay on the podium. Sergio stayed with me. I had a 54 chainring on for the descent, in case I had to chase and I certainly needed that in the end."

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