I'm over here! Welcome to live coverage of the penultimate day, and queen stage, of Paris-Nice.
The racing is well underway in the south of France and with just over 107 kilometres to go there are eight riders with a 2:25 advantage over the peloton.
It's a strong breakaway out there with Rory Sutherland (UAE), Tony Gallopin (AG2R), Alessandro de Marchi (BMC), Nicolas Roche (BMC), Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Amael Moinard (Fortuneo) and Jesus Herrada (Cofidis).
De Gendt was one of the riders in the breakaway yesterday, along with Amael Moinard, but the Belgian hadn't intended on getting up there. It happened after the peloton took a wrong turning and those that managed to go the right way decided to chase down the leaders. Let's hope that everybody can take the right roads today.
Race radio has reported that Koen de Kort has climbed off. Bert Van Lerberghe called it quits earlier today, suffering with the injuries he sustained earlier this week when he crashed into a tree.
And we have another abandon with Alexander Kristoff climbing off. He's been suffering with illness throughout the week. It's extremely cold out there so we might see a few more riders saving themselves for the Classics and so on and deciding to quit.
One rider that decided not to even start the day because of the inclement weather was Arnaud Demare. He wants to keep himself healthy for Milan-San Remo next weekend. Read the full story here.
The riders have begun the first category ascent of the Cote de la Sainte-Baume with the leaders holding an advantage of 3:10. Meanwhile, Dan Martin looks to be in trouble as he struggles near the back of the main bunch.
Wout Poels is of course not in the peloton today after he was forced to abandon due to that nasty crash he had. He broke his collarbone when his bike slipped from under him on a corner. Read the full story here.
Mike Teunissen becomes the next victim of the stage as he too abandons. That leaves just three riders in the Sunweb team. We've still got more than 90km to go today and three more climbs, including the summit finish.
Without wanting to make this a long list of riders who have called it quits, we have another. Julien El Fares has decided that enough is enough.
Perhaps they've heard about the conditions at the finish line. Australian commentator Matthew Keenan posted this image a little while ago. So much for this being the race to the sun.
90km remaining from 175km
It is such a strong breakaway out there that the peloton is taking no chances. They've cut the advantage to just 2:35. It doesn't look too likely at the moment that they'll be able to succeed.
This short leash could be explained by Alessandro de Marchi's presence in the breakaway. The Italian is just 2:36 behind Luis Leon Sanchez in the overall standings and he's a renowned breakaway specialist so will take any opportunity he's given. With Roche in there to help him, he is doubly dangerous.
News from over in Italy is that Tom Dumoulin has crashed out of Tirreno-Adriatico. We have contacted the team for an update on his condition and we will bring it to you when we can. Read the story here.
Meanwhile, Thomas De Gendt has taken the 10 points available at the top of the Cote de la Sainte-Baume. That makes him the provisional holder of the mountains classification jersey.
It's a day of two races today and I'm heading back to guide you through the remainder of today's Tirreno-Adriatico stage so I'll hand you over to Susan Westemeyer for the rest of stage 7 of Paris-Nice.
82km remaining from 175km
With 82 km to go, the gap is at 2:10. And many thanks to Sadhbh for doing double duty!
This may be the Race to the Sun, but they sure aren't finding it today. Right now it looks like heavy fog -- not really what we want on a mountain stage!
And another one ..... now it is Dan Martin of UAE Team Emirates who has decided to call it quits.
@sebpiquet Sat, 10th Mar 2018 11:54:49
With 75 km to go, the gap is holding at 2:35. So far we have two climbs behind us, with three more to come -- including that lovely closing climb!
Herrada has been dropped from the lead group, leaving us now with only 7 up front.
Olivier Le Gaq has now joined the list of those who have thrown in the towel today. Or as the race twitter puts it, "Another one out on this hellish stage."
132 riders finished yesterday, and we assume they all started today. However, the number of abandons today has been massive.
Everyone has now passed the top of the next climb, the cat. 2 Col St. Raphael, but we have not yet heard the results.
So of course we immediately find the results: De Gendt ahead of Sutherland, Roche, Pantano and Moinard.
There is snow alongside the road where the peloton is now riding. But not on the road, which is good.
They are about halfway down a long and not bad descent. There is another cat. 2 to climb, and an intermediate sprint before starting up the long final climb.
Bahrain Merida sent Manuele Boaro to the front and he has picked up the pace. The peloton has now split.
Race leader Sanchez is in teh first peloton group, but Tim Wellens has been caught behind in the second group.
Today is definitely the Race to the Fog. Not a very catchy name, though.
The gap from the break group to the Sanchez group is now only 1:30. We do't know if the second peloton has joined pu or not.
The WEllens group (which includes Calmejane) is still some 20 seconds behind the Sanchez group.
Only 44 km to go. 1:12 to the Sanchez group, and the gap to the Wellens group is growing, now at 1:46.
Just over a minute now for the leaders, and the Wellens group is also catching up
Only 1 km to the top of the penultimate climb.
Riders are now dropping off the back of the Wellens group.
Bahrain Merida continues to pull the Sanchez group up the climb, followed closely by Astana.
A little further upwards, De Gendt once again takes the mountain points.
Narrow roads, not necessarily in best condition, lots of twists and turns, rain, mountains, steep drop-offs -- these are not things that make anyone happy.
37km remaining from 175km
Only 50 seconds now between the first two groups. We think the third group is also about 50 seconds further back, but we don't know for sure.
The lead group approaches the second, and last, intermediate sprint of the day.
Sutherland has been dropped from the lead group.
33 km to go and a gap of 33 seconds. The weather still looks awful to us, but Pantano takes off his rain jacket.
And Sutherland is caught by the peloton.
The lead group has split in half now but of course as we write that, they come back together.
And now the Wellens group has caught up with the peloton, so we again have a large group chasing the six leaders.
With 30km to go, the gap has grown back to nearly a minute.
The Sanchez group and the Wellens group may have joined up again, but they still make a relatively small group. Lots of riders have been dropped along the way.
Someone has gone over the edge. WE dn't have any details.
Anotehr crash, or someone in the same crash. This is not good and we don't know who is involved. The peloton is now going downhill in slow motion.
Di Marchi was the one who went over. He was helped to walk back up to the road, we are happy to say.
WE believe that Pantano and De Gendt crashed as well, but that both are back up and going.
That leave Roche and Gallopin alone in the lead. The gap is 1:11. Moinard now joins them.
Incredibly, Di Marchi has been able to continue. On a new bike though, since his previous one lost the saddle in his crash.
Dumont of AG2R hits the road next. Slick roads.....
Astana has moved to the front of the peloton, and has turned the speed down a notch. Safety first!
20.4km to go and De Gendt is caught by the field.
@quickstepteam Sat, 10th Mar 2018 13:17:52
18.5km to go and 1:04. We can expect that gap to rapidly disappear once the climbing begins in 2 km.
BMC reports that Di Marchi has some contusions but is otherwise ok.
More riders being dropped off the back of the field as they start up the climb, including Sky's Ian Stannard.
25 seconds from the leaders to the field. Only two up front now, as Moinard starts going backwards.
We can't really call it a peloton any more. The Sanchez group is now very small. And Roche also drops from the lead.
That leaves Gallopin alone in the lead, with a gap of some 30 seconds. 15 km to go.
Chaves dropped from the Sanchez group.
13 seconds now, but it looks closer.
A tremendous effort by Gallopin, but his time is nearly up.
And with 13 km it is over for the break.
Bahrain Merida and Astana still leading the way up.
There is pretty high pace here now.
Pantano was able to hang on to the field, but now is dropping off.
Sanchez still has 3 teammates with him. The whole group is maybe 40 riders.
Bora-hansgrohe's Poljanski is the next to drop from the lead group.
The higher they climb, the thicker the fog.
Nibali is helping with the lead work. No, not that Nibali. This is the younger brother, Antonio
@pariswheels Sat, 10th Mar 2018 13:44:20
Simon Yates and Tim Wellens are still in the Sanchez group, in fact they are very close to Sanchez on the way up. 7.5km to go.
Bauke Mollema now drops back, can't keep up with the rest.
Sanchez has lost one of his helpers.
The road here looks very wet.
Mitchelton-Scott has now moved to the front of this field.
More and more riders falling off the back now. And Sanchez having problems! In fact he looks to have been dropped!
It now looks like maybe 15-20 in the first group.
Fuglsang, Zakarin amongst those now off the back. Mitchelton -Scott strong at the front.
14 in the group, if we have counted correctly.
4.3km to go and Yeates jumps. Jon Izagirre goes with him.
Gorka Izagirre leads the chase, but the two up front have a decent gap.
Jon Izagirre came into the stage as 6th, 42 seconds down, with Yates at 7th and 45 seconds.
Sanchez now over a minute down, with the group at 14 seconds.
Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep) is in that chasing group. He came into the day 2d in GC at 22 seconds.
The chasing group of 10 or so is moving up. Everyone is suffering.
Alaphilippe is working hard, and showing it. De la Cruz (Sky) has done much of the lead work of this group and looks to be really suffering.
Alaphilippe dropped now.
Only the two leaders look to have no major problems.
Dylan Teuns tries to pull away from the group. Up front, Yates pulls away from Izagirre.
Yates takes 16 seconds in the final kilometer.
Soler has also been dropped.
Teuns is on the verge of catching Jon Izagirre. Yates has only 500 meters to go and ought to have this.
Jon Izagirre isn't ready to give up and digs deep. Yates grins and crosses the line as first.
Teuns caught J. Izagirre to take second, with the Spaniard 3d. His brother Gorka was 4th.
This ought to make Yates the new race leader.
Alaphilippe still struggling his way up.and is passed by two others at the line. He finished 2.02 down.
That is Yates' first win this season.
Top ten on the stage:
1 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 05:02:54
2 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:08
3 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
4 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:13
5 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:20
7 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky 00:00:46
8 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 00:00:48
10 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:00:54
And the new GC:
1 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 03:29:02
2 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:11
3 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:12
4 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 00:00:13
5 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:27
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:37
7 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:39
8 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky 00:00:57
9 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors 00:01:48
10 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:01:49
With only one stage left, we have our top five all within 30 seconds. We can expect some exciting action tomorrow!
We will have full results and our report here.
Meanwhile, Tirreno-Adriaticois still going on, and you can read along with our live report.
Here is Simon Yates in the yellow jersey after taking today's stage win.
Tim Wellens is in green following the abandon of Arnaud Demare ahead of the stage. There was no green jersey in the bunch today because of that.
Thomas De Gendt is back in familiar colours after he took the mountains classification today.
One last photo for you. This is the dejected face of Luis Leon Sanchez after losing yellow. He did his best, but he couldn't hold on when the big climbers wound things up.
Astana will be ruing Fuglsang losing time earlier in the week because he has looked strong in the mountains and he looked good today. He ended up leaving Sanchez behind on the final climb when the Spaniard blew up.
That is it from us today at Paris-Nice. Tune in for the final stage tomorrow and head here for the closing kilometres of stage 4 of Tirreno-Adriatico.
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