Welcome to a rain-soaked final stage of Paris-Nice. It's going to be an exciting ride today.
The neutral start was given a short while ago and we have four non-starters today. They are: Dries Devenyns (Quick-Step Floors), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Christophe Laporte and Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis).
Simon Yates has the race lead but there are three riders within 13 seconds of him, so today is likely to be an explosive stage and it's only 110km.
1 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 27:29:02
2 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:11
3 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:12
4 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:13
5 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:27
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:37
7 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:39
8 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky 0:00:57
9 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:48
10 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:49
Luis Leon Sanchez taking an extra bit of cover in the neutral start. This picture, courtesy of radio tour's Seb Piquet, shows just how horrible the weather is down in Nice. Race to the sun, my eye.
There might be just 110km of racing today but there are six climbs, all first and second category. Here is the low-down.
Cote de Levens (2nd cat.), Cote de Chateauneuf (2nd cat.), Col du Calaison (2nd cat.), Cote de Peille (1st cat.), Col d'Eze (2nd cat.), Cote des Quatre Chemins (2nd cat.)
The flag has dropped for racing and it's all together for now, but it won't last for long. We've written a brief preview of what could happen today with so many riders within spitting distance of the yellow jersey. You can read that here.
In a nod to the stage distance, only 110 riders signed on this morning. A massive 44 riders have abandoned throughout the week, with many falling ill. As ever, it has been a brutal week of racing.
As well as the pouring rain out there, we have a fair amount of wind. The biggest guest are down by the finish where the wind is sweeping in off the sea. There are so many variables in this stage, which just makes it all the more exciting. Let's just hope all the riders make it through in one piece.
Those of you that were with us yesterday may remember that there was a pretty dramatic accident on the wet roads during stage 7. Alessandro De Marchi and Jarlinson Pantano tangled on a descent, with the former falling into a ravine. Fortunately, De Marchi was able to get out and even carried on the stage, finishing 22 minutes down. He is still racing today. Will he be brave enough to try and have a go in the breakaway today? I wouldn't put it past him.
The peloton is still all together. It appears that they are waiting for the first climb to come in just a few kilometres before things begin to go bang. Lotto Soudal are leading the way, perhaps looking to set up both Tim Wellens and Thomas De Gendt. Wellens is only 13 seconds off the race lead while De Gendt is holding the mountains classification.
De Gendt's lead in the mountains classification is significant, but he may wish to collect a few more points to be sure.
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 60 pts
2 Fabien Grellier (Fra) Direct Energie 31
3 Jerome Cousin (Fra) Direct Energie 25
4 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 20
5 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 17
6 Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 14
7 Amael Moinard (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic 14
8 Rory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team Emirates 14
9 Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 13
10 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 12
Incidentally, Wellens is in the green jersey after Arnaud Demare called it quite ahead of yesterday's stage. That's a much tighter affair compared to the mountains classification and is most certainly still up for grabs.
1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 29 pts
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors 28
3 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 26
4 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 23
5 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 23
6 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 20
7 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 18
8 Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 18
9 Jerome Cousin (Fra) Direct Energie 17
10 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Direct Energie 16
As the riders approach the foot of the first climb, here is a look at the finish line. Plenty of rain out there, some paddles might be needed to make it to the line.
As the road goes up, the sprinters that have been brave enough to stick it out for the final stage are being distanced. Elia Viviani and Andre Greipel have been shown the back door on the second category Cote de Levens.
90km remaining from 110km
After 20 kilometres, the peloton is still together. Even with the road rising upwards, the pace has been high with the peloton going along at around 40 kph.
We have a breakaway forming on the first climb of the day. Four riders have gone clear: David De La Cruz (Team Sky), Jokub Fuglsang (Astana), Omar Fraile (Astana), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis). Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) and Dayer Quintana (Movistar) are chasing behind.
It is not surprising to see Sky and Astana throw riders at a breakaway. Astana lost the lead yesterday when Sanchez blew up spectacularly. Fuglsang is their best placed rider at 3:39. De la Cruz, who won this stage last year, is 40 seconds up on the Dane and could be a spring board for his teammate Sergio Henao, who is 57 seconds down in the overall standings.
That attempt has come to nought though as the four riders are brought back in. The pace needed to shut that down has split the bunch in two and we have a 24-rider group at the head of proceedings.
With the group back together towards the top of the climb, Thomas De Gendt was able to take the full seven points available. Fuglsang took five and Wellens 3.
Race radio reporting that Simon Yates, the yellow jersey, is in that leading group of 24 riders. No news yet on any of the big GC names missing out.
The peloton has just gone through the first intermediate sprint with Gorka Izagirre taking the full points available. That also earns him three bonus seconds. Wellens got 2 with Yates taking the final bonus second available. That means that Izagirre is now just 10 seconds behind Yates in the overall and Wellens is now 12 seconds back.
We lose one rider from the leading group of 24 after Diego Rosa suffers a puncture. After 30 kilometres, the leading group has 50 seconds over the chasers.
A new breakaway of seven riders has formed and includes Julian Alaphilippe, Tony Gallopin and Jakub Fuglsang.
Astana has three riders in that seven-man move with Omar Fraile and Omloop Het Niewsblad winner Micheal Valgen in there. Both have been doing superb jobs working on the front of the bunch over the week. The full list of riders are: Omar Fraile, Jakob Fuglsang, Michael Valgren, Thomas De Gendt, Julian Alaphilippe, Pierre-Lic Perichon, Chris Juul-Junsen and Tony Gallopin.
The leading group has been trimmed to just three, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), Jakob Fuglsang and Omar Fraile (Astana). They have 40 seconds on the Yates group.
It was a smart move from Mitchelton-Scott to try and get a rider in the breakaway, but the other teams were wise to it and weren't going to let it gain any traction while Chris Juul-Jensen was up there.
76km remaining from 110km
Even this move is not being allowed too far up the road. They had as much as 50 seconds but it has gone down to just 30 seconds now.
A few of the names of those in the yellow jersey group, which is 40 seconds behind the leading trio.
Tony Gallopin (AG2R), Luis Leon Sanchez and Michael Valgren (Astana), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo), Sergio Henao and David de la Cruz (Sky), Ion and Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), Simon Yates, Christopher Juul Jensen, and Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott) Dylan Teuns (BMC), Tim Wellens and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Marc Soler (Movistar), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Felix Grosschartner and Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe)
A crash for Fuglsang and he's now back in that following group. Just Fraile and Alaphilippe up front now.
Fuglsang has not had a lot of luck this week. He lost a lot of time early on in the race, after being caught behind a crash. He then played a domestique role for Luis Leon Sanchez and was only let go from those duties late in yesterday's stage, too late to make up any time that he had given away earlier in the week. Let's hope he's not too hurt.
The lead for the two up front has extended to 1:10 while a few more riders join the chasing group, including Oliver Naesen.
Other riders that have made it back to the yellow jersey group on this third climb of the day are: Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Warren Barguil (Fortuneo), Sam Oomen (Sunweb) and Matteo Trentin(Mitchelton-Scott). Oomen was the only member of the top 15 not to be in that group, so we now have a full complement for the top 15.
57km remaining from 110km
There is very much a yo-yo effect going on between the two leaders and the chasers. The gap has dropped to 50 seconds on the descent of the third KOM. It won't be long before we're climbing again and it will be the first of the first category climbs the Cote de Peille.
Fraile took the 7 points at the top of the third climb, with Alaphilippe following him over in second. Int he peloton it was Cherel, Juul Jensen and Yates hoovering up the rest of the points in that order.
The weather is still torrential out there. Rain is hopping off the tarmac and the riders will be happy when this race is done.
Speaking of rain, this is the peloton on a descent earlier with Lotto Soudal on the front. It is now Mitchelton-Scott managing things for Yates.
48km remaining from 110km
Yates has three teammates with him at the moment between Juul-Jensen, Kreuziger and Trentin. A strong ride from them thus far.
Meanwhile, more riders have pulled out of the race. Quick-Step Floors riders Elia Viviani and Fabio Sabatini have climbed off and hitched a ride back to the team bus. Viviani will be thinking of saving himself for next weekend and Milan-San Remo.
In the peloton, David de la Cruz took to the front of the group briefly before Ion Izagirre had a little dig. The pair has broken free along with Marc Soler.
47km remaining from 110km
Up front, Alaphilippe has been dropped by Omar Fraile, who has pulled out a significant gap on the Frenchman.
That little dig has done enough to drop Juul Jensen and Trentin out of the yellow jersey group, leaving Yates with just Kreuziger for company.
The trio of chasers quickly caught Alaphilippe. They didn't stick around for long though with Soler putting in a little dig and dropping the Quick-Step rider. Izagirre also lost touch so it's just De la Cruz and Soler together behind Fraile. Meanwhile, Alaphilippe is now back with the Yates group.
45km remaining from 110km
Fraile has 29 seconds on Soler and De la Cruz with the peloton at 55 seconds back. No indication if Izagirre is still out there or if he's dropped back.
Luis Leon Sanchez and Thomas De Gendt are among those that have been shed out the back of the Yates group. It has been a tough couple of days for Sanchez, who lost the race lead yesterday.
There are no words being exchanged between Soler and De la Cruz, all their energy is being put into keeping warm and catching Fraile. They're still 30 seconds back at the moment as Alaphilippe is now being distanced from the Yates group behind.
Fraile is slowly extending his advantage on the yellow jersey. He has 1:15 on Yates out on the road. He is over 25 minutes down in the overall classification so Mitchelton-Scott will not be concerned about him.
Just 15 seconds now the gap between Fraile and the chasers. They can just about see him disappear around the corners ahead. They will be upon him very soon.
While Mitchelton-Scott won't be overly concerned with Fraile, they will be slightly worried about Soler getting a gap on them. He's only 37 seconds back in sixth place so he is now the virtual leader on the road.
42km remaining from 110km
Fraile takes another haul of mountains points just as De la Cruz and Soler join forces with him. We've got an all Spanish breakaway at the moment and it could be a very dangerous one. They've got 1:20 on the yellow jersey group.
This was Fraile a little while ago. He now has company up front.
Bahrain-Merida have taken up the pace setting in the yellow jersey group, they don't want Soler to get away either. It looks like Mitchelton-Scott has lost Kreuziger, but Trentin is back up there to help Yates.
37km remaining from 110km
It looks like it's Garcia doing the work for Bahrain with the Izagirre brothers sitting behind. Trentin is now lending a hand but the trio up front still have 1:28. .
Could we see some sort of alliance in this leading group? De la Cruz and Fraile will be more interested in the stage win, while Soler is looking for the overall. Will his two companions be willing to help him? They might wish to drop him if it looks like the peloton might catch them.
For now, the yellow jersey group is struggling to make inroads on them on these horribly wet roads. There is a lot of standing water out there and nobody wants to go full gas down a descent only to end up in a ditch.
Nevertheless, Trentin is making a good effort on the front and he's now got Juul Jensen back int he group to help him. Bad luck for Tim Wellens though as he has to stop for a new bike on the descent.
It's not just standing water to look out for, the rain has caused some rock fall and they riders have to make sure that they don't hit any of that. There are plenty of men with whistles warning them of the danger.
Some discussion gong on between Fraile and De La Cruz, the latter seems to be talking about the group behind. Soler is not taking any concern with it. He wants to keep his advantage without playing any silly games.
32km remaining from 110km
Mitchelton-Scott is pulling back these three leaders ever so slightly but they have to be careful. The camera bike is spraying water everywhere and the roads are incredibly slick. The latest time check is 1:10.
Soler leads the three up front through the intermediate sprint. That's three bonus seconds for him as they begin their approach to the Col d'Eze.
A very fuzzy camera shot shows us that Tim Wellens is back in the peloton after his mechanical. If the riders aren't enjoying the weather, the electronics are liking it even less.
28km remaining from 110km
The gap to the three leaders continues to drop little by little. They have just 52 seconds at the moment, which would still be enough to give Soler the title.
The yellow jersey group loses a few seconds to the leaders as they navigate some road furniture. Mitchelton-Scott continues to pile on the pressure with Bahrain-Merida sitting just behind. The leaders are no just a kilometre from the top of the Col d'Eze.
After regaining contact and doing another big turn, Juul Jensen is out the back of the peloton. He's not going to give up yet, as he might be able to get back once the peloton is over the Col d'Eze.
It is no longer raining hard and De la Cruz has decided to get rid of his top layer. Soler opens his gilet but keeps it on.
Interesting that the riders left with Yates in this leading group are not the team's climbers. Juul Jensen and Trentin are strong riders but Yates may not have them there when the going gets really tough.
Fraile is first over the top of the Col d'Eze as the leaders hold their advantage at 57 seconds.
25km remaining from 110km
Layers are coming off left right and centre now, the real racing is about to begin with just one climb remaining before the run into Nice.
A shake of the legs from Fraile. It has been cold out there with the relentless rain and he needs a bit more feeling in them. Back in the yellow jersey group, Ilnur Zakarin has been distanced on the descent.
I have to say, Trentin has been doing a cracking job today holding the escapees to account. He can climb, but this is not normally his terrain and he's putting in a solid effort. The escapees still have 1:08 on the main group, but that is a jumpable gap by the climbers in the group.
Apologies for an earlier mis-identification. It is Antonio Nibali that has been working for Bahrain-Merida in the peloton.
20km remaining from 110km
Omar Fraile's legs have obviously warmed up because he's attacked on the descent.
When the racing is done today, why not have some cycling in your ears with the latest Cyclingnews podcast, where you can hear from an array of people including Tom Dumoulin and Geraint Thomas. You can find it here.
More shaking of the legs from Fraile, he's obviously suffering out there. No time check for him and the two behind. It's not a large gap though, perhaps around 10 seconds.
15km remaining from 110km
The Yates group is gaining time on this fast descent as the gap goes under a minute again. It's going to be very close in the general classification.
As the road rises for the Col des Quatres chemins, De la Cruz and Soler have caught Fraile again. They still have a minute on the bunch behind. We are likely to see a lot more action from the bunch on this climb though.
Sergio Henao is in trouble as he's dropped from the yellow jersey group. Warren Barguil is also out the back.
The group has drastically thinned out with Trentin also going out the back door. Nibali has also gone after doing a tone of work.
And the attacks start coming. It is Ion Izagirre the first to go and Yates has to chase on his own with no teammates left to hold fort.
Izagirre pulls out a decent gap but Yates is not panicking behind. He seems to have the measure of this for now. Izagirre looks over his shoulder and sees Yates catching so he puts in another dig.
Now a bit of panic from Yates as the group begins to fracture and he loses touch. Wellens has set off in chase of Izagirre, leaving Yates behind with Konrad and Vuillermoz.
11km remaining from 110km
Up front, Soler is losing touch with Fraile and De la Cruz. The Izagirre group is only 40 seconds behind now.
De la Cruz is now alone up front with Fraile and Soler trailing behind. The first chase group has the Izagirre brothers, Carapaz, Wellens and Teuns. Yates is a bit further down the road with Konrad and Vuillermoz.
No time gaps at the moment so we can't tell if Yates is gaining or losing time at the moment. He is currently 1:05 behind De la Cruz, but he is not the concern for the Mitchelton-Scott rider.
8km remaining from 110km
And suddenly Soler moves into view. He's almost back with De la Cruz up front.
Ion Izagirre takes a cursory glance over his shoulder and he can see the yellow shoulders of Simon Yates. This is far from over, he's only 12 seconds behind them.
Crucially, the latest time check has the Izagirre group are 46 seconds behind Soler, who is still the virtual leader on the road.
The Izagirre brothers have crashed into each other.
5km remaining from 110km
Their bikes appear to have got tangled and Gorka uses a few choice words as he tries to free his bike. It's now Wellens, Teuns and Carapaz in that group. Meanwhile, Yates has now caught the Izagirres.
That is a big boost for Soler up front. The race almost seemed in the hands of the Izagirres but that has fallen apart. As we well know, a lot can change on the run into Nice, particularly with the wind as it is.
3km remaining from 110km
While that was going on, Fraile has rejoined Soler and De la Cruz, so it is three up front again and they have 46 seconds on the Wellens group and 55 on the Yates group with just three kilometres left.
Soler is struggling to keep in touch with his companions as they descend towards the sea front, however.
2km remaining from 110km
Two kilometres to go and the yellow jersey is 45 seconds behind Soler. This is touch and go.
Meanwhile, the Wellens and the Yates group are now one supergroup, much like McBusted, and they're still closing in on Soler but will it be enough.
The three leaders are looking at each other but Soler needs to be hammering it. He needs all the time he can get.
Fraile and De la Cruz sprint against each other and it looks like De la Cruz has it.
We wait for the Yates group to come home
They cross the line 38 seconds back De la Cruz
It looks like Soler has taken the title
He lost a couple of seconds in the sprint to the line, but the bonus seconds, plus those in the intermediate sprint, should see him win the title.
Soler is officially named the overall champion, beating Yates by four seconds in the end.
Here is how the stage finished
1 David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky 02:53:06
2 Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team 00:00:00
3 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:03
4 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:38
5 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 00:00:38
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:38
7 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:38
8 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team 00:00:38
9 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:38
10 Ion Izzagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:38
And this is what the podium looks like after that stage, not perhaps what many people thought it would look like.
1 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 30:22:41
2 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:04
3 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:14
"It's a dream. I've never won a WorldTour race before. I'm really happy," a delighted Marc Soler said after the stage. This is the biggest win of his career thus far.
This is the complete top 10 in the overall classification. Marc Soler is of course the winner of the young rider classification too.
1 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 01/01/00 06:22
2 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:04
3 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:14
4 Ion Izzagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:16
5 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 00:00:16
6 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:32
7 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:44
8 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:01:54
9 David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky 00:02:15
10 Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:02:35
Thomas De Gendt steps up onto the podium to collect the mountains classification. He won that competition by a huge margin. It helped that he was in the break almost every day.
The GC podium is happening now. There will be a range of emotions up there. Izagirre and Yates will feel that they cold have won it. Soler will feel nothing but joy. He executed it perfectly today.
Izagirre congratulates Soler with a big smile, however. They were teammates until last year until Izagirre moved to Bahrain-Merida to be with his brother.
Simon Yates will be ruing having nobody to support him on the final climb. Juul Jensen and Trentin did a superb job earlier in the stage but there was no chance that they would be able to stick with the climbers over that final ascent when the attacks began to come.
Stick with us here for some reaction from today's Paris-Nice stage, but if you want a bit more racing then you can also follow the closing stages of today's Tirreno-Adriatico offering, here.
The second round of the Women's WorldTour took place today with Ronde van Drenthe. I won't spoil the result for you, but you will be able it find that here.
And here is your overall winner
A few more comments from the overall winner
"I can not believe it. All my teammates have performed very well throughout the week and today we were able to finish all that work," he said.
"Personally I did not expect it, especially after having lost time yesterday. But we had already planned with the team to attack from far out. We thought there would be a big break like last year, but in the end it did not come out, although Fraile was ahead and I took the opportunity to go with De la Cruz and Ion on the first category climb, which is where I had planned to attack. Once the gap was made, it was only necessary to go all the way to the finish line. I have never won a WorldTour race and for me all this is a dream. To be on the palmarés with the people who have won this race is incredible ".
Tirreno-Adriatico stage 5 has just finished. Find out what happened here.
This is the third year in a row that the Paris-Nice general classification came down to fewer than five seconds. It really has been a very dramatic race in recent years. Interestingly, this is the first time that the leader has been unseated on the final day. It was probably helped by the fact that only one team had two riders up front, Bahrain-Merida, and they managed to crash into each other. I wonder how dinner will be in the Izagirre household be this evening.
They didn't manage a stage win or a podium in the overall, but it has been a decent week for Lotto Soudal, nevertheless with De Gendt taking the mountains classification. Tim Wellens also took the points classification after his nearest rival Alaphilippe was dropped in the finale.
Just a little indication of how horrible it was out there, 32 riders either dropped out or finished outside the time limit today. Only 78 riders have finished the whole race.
This is what Simon Yates had to say after losing the yellow jersey to Marc Soler in today's stage.
"It was just one of those days. It was a really hard day from the start. The team did a really god job. We really did as good as we could. It was a really aggressive race as we expected. I was just empty in the finale there. Marc Soler did a very good ride, I congratulate him. He's a very good rider and we've known him for a long time already. I had a stage win yesterday. I'm getting closer. Last year I lost Romandie on the last day as well by 20 seconds and now I lost Paris-Nice by four seconds. I'm getting closer. Hopefully I can improve and work hard and I take the top spot. Today a great rider won."
The jersey winners at Paris-Nice
Tim Wellens said after the stage that while he would have taken the result at the start, he finishes the race a little disappointed.
"I was never too far. If I had been told that I would ride such a good Paris-Nice at the start I would have been very pleased. Because I was so close, I'm a little disappointed as well. Now my priority will be the classics, it's important for me and my team. My next race is the Tour of Catalonya and I will just be going for a stage win. Then it'll be all for the classics"
That is all from the 2018 Paris-Nice. Thank you for joining us and head here for full results from today.
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