Soler takes Paris-Nice as Yates runs empty

Long touted as the natural successor to Miguel Indurain and Alberto Contador, Marc Soler (Movistar), winner of the 2015 Tour de L'Avenir, snatched a dramatic overall win in Paris-Nice, wrecking Simon Yates' best-laid plans with an attack a la Contador on the rain soaked roads of the Cote d'Azur. Soler is the first rider since Contador in 2007 to win both the yellow and the best young rider jerseys in the 'Race to the Sun.'

Soler's overall win, by a mere four seconds, after he finished third behind back-to-back Nice stage winner, David De La Cruz (Team Sky) and fellow Spaniard Omar Fraile (Astana), further boosts Movistar's all-star stage racing firepower, with the 24-year-old demonstrating he has now every right to be taken as seriously as Mikel Landa, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde.

Soler is always quick to play down the comparisons with Indurain and Contador, which inevitably followed his spectacular overall victory.

"I've heard it a few times," he said afterwards, "but I'm not at their level yet. I'm still learning."

But he admitted that he had Contador in his mind when he launched his attack on Yates' 37 seconds overnight lead on the Cote de Peille.

"I was trying to replay a little of what Contador did in Paris-Nice," he said. "I was a big fan of his and I wanted to ride in his style. I thought that maybe the stage win was possible, but I was thinking more of the podium than of taking the jersey."

For Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), bushwhacked in the rain by a Spanish trio, it was a bitter ending to a Race to the Sun in which, after winning Saturday's summit finish to La Colmiane, he had high hopes.

Yates had to wait on the finish line to hear of Soler's narrow victory and was clearly bitterly disappointed to lose by just four seconds.

"When Marc went on the attack, we still had a long way to go and I still had many rivals to watch," Yates said. "I can't watch everybody and I can't follow everybody, so you have to take a risk sometimes. In the final, I didn't have the legs to close the gap. But I did the best I could. Today a great rider won.

"Marc did a really good ride and I congratulate him," Yates said. "He's going to be a very good rider but we've known that for a long time already. Of course, I had the stage win yesterday and I'm getting closer to an overall win. I lost the Tour of Romandie on the last day last year in the time trial by 20, or 30 seconds, and I've lost Paris-Nice by four seconds today. So I'm getting closer and hopefully one day I will take the top spot."

How It Unfolded

The weather on the Promenade des Anglais could hardly have been worse this morning, as driving rain and high winds lashed the start area and swept across the hills inland from Nice. There were four non starters for the 110 kilometre final stage: Dries Devenyns (Quick Step), Nils Politt (Katusha), Christophe Laporte and Cyril Lemoine (both Cofidis). They would later be joined by a lengthy list of abandons.

The first signs that the peloton perceived Yates' lead as vulnerable came after 20 kilometres, when de la Cruz, Fraile and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), together with Jesus Herrada of Cofidis, broke away on the Cote de Levens. As a flurry of attacks came and went in the ebb and flow of the first hour, Yates seemed to expend a lot of energy following moves from rivals including Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain Merida), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Julian Alaphilippe (Quickstep)

Eventually, after 60 kilometres, Alaphilippe and Fraile led the yellow jersey group by a minute and fifteen, after Fuglsang dropped out of the move following a crash. But when Fraile dropped Alaphilippe and moved ahead, alone, at the foot of the Cote de Peille, that gave Soler, de la Cruz and Gorka Izagirre their cue to give chase.

It was the decisive moment in this year's Paris-Nice and it was too much for Yates, who suddenly found himself isolated and forced to chase, without any team mates. With 40 kilometres still to race, Soler, de la Cruz and Fraile pushed on, maintaining their lead even through the numerous slick and treacherous bends taking them over the Col d'Eze and to the foot of the final climb, the Col des Quatre Chemins.

With Bahrain-Merida's Izagirre brothers moving clear of a faltering Yates to close the gap, the outcome still hung in the balance even as the break sped back down towards the Promenade des Anglais, but then when the Izagirre brothers wiped out, on a left hand hairpin, just six kilometres from the finish, Soler's hopes, not just of a podium finish, but even of overall victory, suddenly got better.

Until that point, with Yates chasing and the Izagirres closing, a Soler win had looked uncertain, but the crash gave the Movistar rider renewed impetus on the fast roads back into central Nice.

"We were a little surprised by how strong Soler was," admitted Bahrain-Merida sports director, Gorazd Stangeli afterwards. "It was a game of poker, deciding whether to attack or to defend our position. After Soler went away, we didn't know which tactic was best, because we could have been in danger of losing Jon's podium spot. I think without the crash they (the Izagirre brothers) would have got onto the podium, because we lost 15 seconds. But they decided to attack and take risks in the descent."

Soler opted not to compete for the win, leaving an exultant de la Cruz to open his account with Team Sky by repeating his stage win from a year ago. Thirty eight seconds later, Yates crossed the line, already looking downcast, in a group containing Wellens and the Izagirre brothers. Soler's overall win may have been a little unexpected, but the 24 year old rode consistently throughout the week, taking second place on the stage four time trial, eighth in the key summit finish at La Colmiane on Saturday and third on the final stage into Nice.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky2:53:06
2Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 1 - Cell 2
3Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team0:00:03
4Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:38
5Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 4 - Cell 2
6Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-ScottRow 5 - Cell 2
7Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 6 - Cell 2
8Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar TeamRow 7 - Cell 2
9Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 8 - Cell 2
10Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 9 - Cell 2
11Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 10 - Cell 2
12Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:55
13Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:01:30
14Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro TeamRow 13 - Cell 2
15Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team0:02:45
16Warren Barguil (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 15 - Cell 2
17Paul Martens (Ger) LottoNL-Jumbo0:03:03
18Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:44
19Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 18 - Cell 2
20Sam Oomen (Ned) Team SunwebRow 19 - Cell 2
21Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 20 - Cell 2
22Sergio Henao (Col) Team SkyRow 21 - Cell 2
23Antonio Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:03:46
24Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-ScottRow 23 - Cell 2
25Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:06:13
26Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:06:26
27Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Direct Energie0:08:32
28Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 27 - Cell 2
29Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:08:43
30Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 29 - Cell 2
31Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott0:09:42
32Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team0:09:45
33Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team0:10:10
34Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott0:12:56
35Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors0:12:58
36Lars Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal0:13:51
37Remy Di Gregorio (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM0:14:05
38Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 37 - Cell 2
39Delio Fernandez Cruz (Spa) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 38 - Cell 2
40Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 39 - Cell 2
41Benjamin King (USA) Dimension DataRow 40 - Cell 2
42Diego Rosa (Ita) Team SkyRow 41 - Cell 2
43Jose Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 42 - Cell 2
44Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 43 - Cell 2
45Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 44 - Cell 2
46Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension DataRow 45 - Cell 2
47Cyril Gautier (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 46 - Cell 2
48Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension DataRow 47 - Cell 2
49Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 48 - Cell 2
50Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro TeamRow 49 - Cell 2
51Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team SkyRow 50 - Cell 2
52Pierre Luc Perichon (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 51 - Cell 2
53Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar TeamRow 52 - Cell 2
54Amael Moinard (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 53 - Cell 2
55David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team SkyRow 54 - Cell 2
56Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar TeamRow 56 - Cell 2
58Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 57 - Cell 2
59Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:14:10
60Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo0:19:11
61Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha-Alpecin0:21:50
62Thomas Boudat (Fra) Direct Energie0:23:42
63Romain Combaud (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 62 - Cell 2
64Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-SegafredoRow 63 - Cell 2
65Hector Carretero (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 64 - Cell 2
66Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 65 - Cell 2
67Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-SegafredoRow 66 - Cell 2
68Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 67 - Cell 2
69Jay Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data0:24:34
70Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension DataRow 69 - Cell 2
71Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale0:25:36
72Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 71 - Cell 2
73Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step FloorsRow 72 - Cell 2
74Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 73 - Cell 2
75Axel Domont (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 74 - Cell 2
76Gregory Rast (Swi) Trek-SegafredoRow 75 - Cell 2
77Roy Curvers (Ned) Team SunwebRow 76 - Cell 2
78Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 77 - Cell 2
DNFIan Stannard (GBr) Team SkyRow 78 - Cell 2
DNFSven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 79 - Cell 2
OOTRory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team EmiratesRow 80 - Cell 2
DNFManuele Boaro (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 81 - Cell 2
DNFHeinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-MeridaRow 82 - Cell 2
OOTLuka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 83 - Cell 2
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 84 - Cell 2
DNSDries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 85 - Cell 2
DNFFabio Sabatini (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 86 - Cell 2
DNFElia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 87 - Cell 2
DNSNils Politt (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 88 - Cell 2
OOTEsteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-ScottRow 89 - Cell 2
DNSAlex Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 90 - Cell 2
OOTMathew Hayman (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 91 - Cell 2
DNFJean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing TeamRow 92 - Cell 2
DNFSimon Gerrans (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 93 - Cell 2
DNFNicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing TeamRow 94 - Cell 2
DNFJasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 95 - Cell 2
DNFAndré Greipel (Ger) Lotto SoudalRow 96 - Cell 2
DNFMarcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto SoudalRow 97 - Cell 2
DNFJelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 98 - Cell 2
DNFLaurent Pichon (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 99 - Cell 2
DNFTimo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 100 - Cell 2
DNFLouis Vervaeke (Bel) Team SunwebRow 101 - Cell 2
DNSChristophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 102 - Cell 2
DNSCyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 103 - Cell 2
DNFMatti Breschel (Den) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 104 - Cell 2
DNFLawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 105 - Cell 2
DNFMitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 106 - Cell 2
DNFTom Scully (NZl) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 107 - Cell 2
DNFErik Baska (Svk) Bora-HansgroheRow 108 - Cell 2
DNFJuraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-HansgroheRow 109 - Cell 2
DNFLilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFJerome Cousin (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFFabien Grellier (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFPrzemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Pol) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 113 - Cell 2
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Sprint 1 - Levens
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida3pts
2Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Sprint 2 - La Turbie
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team3pts
2Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team2Row 1 - Cell 3
3David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Sprint - Finish line
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky15pts
2Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team12Row 1 - Cell 3
3Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team9Row 2 - Cell 3
4Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe7Row 3 - Cell 3
5Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal6Row 4 - Cell 3
6Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott5Row 5 - Cell 3
7Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team4Row 6 - Cell 3
8Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team3Row 7 - Cell 3
9Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida2Row 8 - Cell 3
10Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida1Row 9 - Cell 3
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KOM 1 - Cote de Levens - 20.5km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal7pts
2Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team5Row 1 - Cell 3
3Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal3Row 2 - Cell 3
4Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida2Row 3 - Cell 3
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KOM 2 - Côte de Châteauneuf - 36.5km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team7pts
2Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team5Row 1 - Cell 3
3Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors3Row 2 - Cell 3
4Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal2Row 3 - Cell 3
5Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal1Row 4 - Cell 3
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KOM 3 - Col de Calaïson - 51km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team7pts
2Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors5Row 1 - Cell 3
3Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale3Row 2 - Cell 3
4Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott2Row 3 - Cell 3
5Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott1Row 4 - Cell 3
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KOM 4 - Côte de Peille - 67.5km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team10pts
2Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team8Row 1 - Cell 3
3David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky6Row 2 - Cell 3
4Antonio Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida4Row 3 - Cell 3
5Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott3Row 4 - Cell 3
6Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida2Row 5 - Cell 3
7Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida1Row 6 - Cell 3
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KOM 5 - Col d'Eze - 83.5km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team10pts
2Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team8Row 1 - Cell 3
3David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky6Row 2 - Cell 3
4Antonio Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida4Row 3 - Cell 3
5Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott3Row 4 - Cell 3
6Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida2Row 5 - Cell 3
7Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida1Row 6 - Cell 3
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KOM 6 - Col des Quatres Chemins - 101km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky7pts
2Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team5Row 1 - Cell 3
3Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team3Row 2 - Cell 3
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Young rider classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team2:53:09
2Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team0:00:35
3Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:52
4Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb0:03:41
5Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team0:14:02
6Thomas Boudat (Fra) Direct Energie0:23:39
7Hector Carretero (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 6 - Cell 2
8Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data0:24:31
9Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida0:25:33
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Team Classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Astana Pro Team8:43:33
2Bahrain-Merida0:00:47
3Movistar Team0:06:36
4AG2R La Mondiale0:08:50
5Mitchelton-Scott0:09:51
6Bora-Hansgrohe0:11:23
7Team Sky0:13:34
8BMC Racing Team0:16:59
9Lotto Soudal0:24:19
10Team Fortuneo -Samsic0:26:40