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Paris-Nice 2019: Stage 6

Tomorrow's summit finish on the Col de Turini and Sunday's grand finale on the Riviera naturally draw the eye in these final days of Paris-Nice, but contenders would do well to beware the Ides of March. There are potential pitfalls aplenty on the hilly run-in to Brignoles this afternoon. 

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) remains in the yellow jersey after yesterday's time trial. The general classification is as follows ahead of stage 6:

 

1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 17:23:04
2 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 0:00:15
3 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:24
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:57
5 Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck-QuickStep
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:01:01
7 Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:05
8 Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:01:15
9 Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:01:18
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:21
11 Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team 0:01:35
12 Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:36
13 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:01:39
14 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:01:51
15 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:52
16 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:01:58
17 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:06
18 Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First 0:02:10
19 Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie 0:02:15
20 Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:02:23

 

The peloton will roll out of Peynier at 12.05 local time, with the start proper due at 12.15. There are three classified climbs on the agenda, all in the final 65km - the category 2 Côte de la Sainte-Baume, the category 3 Côte de Mazaugues and the category 2 Côte de Sainte-Philomène, which 17.5km from the finish.

 

The 149 riders left in the Paris-Nice peloton have been flagged away from the start and are rolling through the neutralised zone.

 

175km remaining from 176km

An early attack from Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), who opens a small gap over the peloton.

 

Calmejane has been joined by some reinforcements, as Ivan Garcia (Bahrain-Merida), Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo), Laurent Pichon (Arkea-Samsic) and Mauro Finetto (Delko-Marseille-Provence) have bridged across to the Frenchman.

 

167km remaining from 176km

Garcia relents, leaving four riders at the head of the race. Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo), Laurent Pichon (Arkea Samsic), Mauro Finetto (Delko-Marseille-Provence) and Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) have a lead of 1:15 over the peloton.

 

The best-placed rider in the break on GC is Calmejane, who began the day in 19th place overall, 2:15 down on Kwiatkowski.

 

163km remaining from 176km

Calmejane's presence in the break meant the move was never likely to given much leeway. The Albi native sits up, leaving Kirsch, Finetto and Pichon to continue as a trio.

 

160km remaining from 176km

The wind is brisk in these opening kilometres and the peloton briefly fragments into echelons on a section of crosswind. The bunch is now back together but the tension remains. Meanwhile, the injection of speed has seen the break's lead cut back to 1:05. 

 

Laurent Pichon (Arkea-Samsic), Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo) and Mauro Finetto (Delko Marseille Provence) have nudged their lead back out to 1:15 over the peloton.

 

153km remaining from 176km

The speed has abated slightly in the peloton, and the three escapees are taking advantage, stretching their buffer back out beyond two minutes.

 

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) claimed the first time trial win of his career on stage 5, further underlining his credentials as one of the favourites for overall victory at the Giro d'Italia in May. The Briton is long since out of the running for GC here, but could be to the fore again in the coming days. "The sensations are good for the next few days," said Yates. "I knew I had good form – well, decent form – coming into the race, and just got caught out in the crosswinds [on stages 1 and 2]. It wasn't from a lack of form or anything." Read more here.

 

142km remaining from 176km

Kirsch, Finetto and Pichon continue to collaborate well at the head of the race and, for the time being, the peloton is happy to leave them to it. 2:40 the gap.

 

The uncertain future of Team Sky promised to be one of the overarching narratives of the 2019 season, but there are murmurs that their fate may already be resolved. Stephen Farrand reports that Ineos, a multinational controlled by Britain’s richest person, Jim Ratcliffe, is expected to back the team from 2020. Read the full story here.

 

133km remaining from 176km

The three escapees have covered 42.8km in a brisk opening hour of racing.

 

118km remaining from 176km

As Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo), Laurent Pichon (Arkea-Samsic) and Mauro Finetto (Delko-Marseille-Provence) approach Carces, their lead over the peloton stands at 2:50.

 

A puncture for Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), who gets a quick wheel change and rejoins the peloton swiftly.

 

Bardet’s travails against the watch continued yesterday, as he placed 28th to drop to 10th overall, even if he looked to put a positive slant on his performance. “There’s no reason to be unhappy,” Bardet told L’Équipe. “It was my first time trial of the year and it was a time trial for rouleurs, but it was pleasant to ride it because it was fast and you had to play a bit with the wind. I enjoyed the exercise, and that’s what satisfied me the most.”

 

106km remaining from 176km

Groupama-FDJ are among the teams setting the tempo at the head of the peloton. Despite the hills that punctuate the finale this afternoon, they will hope to keep the race together for Arnaud Demare in the sprint.

 

Deceuninck-QuickStep have also been prominent in recent kilometres, and the break's lead has dropped to 2:15.

 

95km remaining from 176km

The best-placed rider on GC in this break is Alex Kirsch, who began the day some 15:32 off Kwiatkowski's yellow jersey.

 

Over at Tirreno-Adriatico (live coverage of stage 3 here), Tom Dumoulin has spoken about his former teammate Georg Preidler's admission that he had extracted blood with the intention to dope. The Dutchman warned that cycling "shouldn't get lazy" in the fight against doping. Read the full story here.

 

88km remaining from 176km

The break's lead is at 2:20 as they approach Tourves.

 

86km remaining from 176km

A crash in the peloton sees Quentin Pacher (Vital Concept) and Lawson Craddock (EF Education First) among the fallers, though both riders are quickly back on their bikes.

 

82km remaining from 176km

After two hours of racing, the three leaders hold an advantage of 2:20 over the peloton. 

 

Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) lies third overall, 24 seconds down on Kwiatkowski. The Spaniard won Paris-Nice a decade ago, after Alberto Contador unexpectedly faded on the penultimate stage. Sanchez was enjoying something of a purple patch at Paris-Nice in those years - he was 3rd in 2007, 5th in 2008 and 2nd in 2010 - while his last stage win at the Race to the Sun dates back to 2012, when he beat Jens Voigt in Sisteron

 

Francisco Ventoso (CCC) has crashed and the Spaniard is unable to continue in the race.

 

76km remaining from 176km

Meanwhile, the pace has risen several notches in the peloton, and the break's lead is down to 1:35.

 

72km remaining from 176km

The escapees are approaching the first of the day's climbs, the category 2 Côte de la Sainte-Baume (5km at 5%). Their lead over the peloton stands at 1:42.

 

Team Sky and Mitchelton-Scott are setting the tempo in the peloton as it hits the base of the Côte de la Sainte-Baume. 1:11 is the deficit to Kirsch, Pichon and Finetto.

 

65km remaining from 176km

The intensity in the peloton increases on the climb and the break's lead drops accordingly. 40 seconds the gap.

 

Finetto attacks from the break near the summit of the Côte de la Sainte-Baume. Meanwhile, king of the mountains Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) accelerates from the peloton in the hope of amassing some more points.

 

62km remaining from 176km

Finetto leads Pichon and Kirsch over the top of the Côte de la Sainte-Baume. The peloton, led by De Gendt and Jack Bauer (Mitchelton-Scott), follows at 25 seconds.

 

56km remaining from 176km

Bauer and Mitchelton-Scott lead the pursuit over the other side of the climb, and the break's lead is lingering around the 15-second mark.

 

50km remaining from 176km

Into the final 50km, and a Deceuninck-QuickStep-led peloton is within 10 seconds of the break.

 

48km remaining from 176km

Game over for the Kirsch, Pichon and Finetto, who are swept up by the peloton.

47km remaining from 176km

A sizeable group of riders was jettisoned by the peloton on the first climb, though it appears that all of the GC contenders are present and correct in the large front group that is now tackling the day's second ascent, the category 3 Côte de Mazaugues.

 

Ivan Garcia (Bahrain-Merida), Jack Bauer (Mitchelton-Scott) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Sky) swap turns at the head of the race. Kwiatkowski and Bernal maintain a watching brief near the front.

 

44km remaining from 176km

There are 70 or so riders in this front group, which has 30 seconds in hand on the second group on the road.

 

Thomas De Gendt and Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie) were among those to miss the split, but this duo have managed to battle their way onto the rear of the front group. 

 

Ivan Garcia led over the Côte de Mazaugues, incidentally. The Spaniard continues to set the tempo over the other side, stringing out the front group.

 

40km remaining from 176km

Luke Rowe (Team Sky) has caught the eye all week, and the Welshman takes over at the head of this front group. George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) is reportedly caught in the second group, 30 seconds behind the leaders.

 

A correction to an earlier entry: De Gendt and Terpstra battled their way back up to the second group on the road, not the first. The gap between the two groups is 35 seconds.

 

36km remaining from 176km

Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) is also in this second group on the road.

 

34km remaining from 176km

Mitchelton-Scott are back on the head of the front group. They have options for this finale, with both Matteo Trentin and Simon Yates on hand. A large delegation from Team Sky is also near the front, as is Luis Leon Sanchez and his Astana team. Nairo Quintana is also well-placed amid a phalanx of Movistar teammates.

 

30km remaining from 176km

Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) powers away with teammate Ion Izagirre to claim 3 seconds in the intermediate sprint on the Col de la Bigue. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) picked up a second for placing third.

 

28km remaining from 176km

In fact, Jack Haig has been given the nod ahead of Quintana for the final bonus second. Meanwhile, Simon Yates is among the riders who lost contact with the front group on that climb towards that sprint.

 

25km remaining from 176km

Mitchelon-Scott lead the front group into the final 25km. Michal Kwiatkowski remains vigilant, sitting in fourth wheel. The chasing group is 27 seconds behind.

 

Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) is sitting comfortably towards the head of the front group on this rugged roads. The Italian will fancy his prospects in the event of a reduced bunch sprint, though the the category 2 Côte de Sainte-Philomène has still to be negotiated.

 

21km remaining from 176km

There are five Mitchelton-Scott on the front on the lower section of the Côte de Sainte-Philomène (8km at 3.5%). Caleb Ewan and Sam Bennett are among the fast men still in this group. Groenewegen and Fabio Jakobsen are among those to have lost contact.

 

19km remaining from 176km

Mitchelton's brisk pace on the Côte de Sainte-Philomène has discouraged any attacks thus far on the climb.

 

Luke Rowe (Team Sky) takes over at the head of the front group over the top of the Côte de Sainte-Philomène.

 

Luke Rowe (Team Sky) takes over at the head of the front group over the top of the Côte de Sainte-Philomène.

 

15km remaining from 176km

Delegations from Team Sky, Mitchelton-Scott, Sunweb and Movistar vie for position at the head of the race. This front group now has some 1:40 in hand on Groenewegen, Jakobsen et al, who know their chance of stage victory has passed them by.

 

14km remaining from 176km

A crash in the peloton sees Jan Bakelants (Sunweb) and Rafael Valls (Movistar) hit the ground. Everyone else seems to have come through unscathed but the incident has provoked splits in this front group.

 

12km remaining from 176km

The pace abates slightly to allow some of those caught behind that crash to latch back on. As soon as they do, Tim Declercq hits the front for Deceuninck-QuickStep.

 

11km remaining from 176km

Romain Bardet has not yet, however, made it back on, and the Frenchman is still giving chase.

 

11km remaining from 176km

Bardet regains contract with the front group, which has yet to build up a head of steam again after that crash.

 

10km remaining from 176km

Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) was another man caught behind the crash. The Norwegian has chased back alone and it on the point of regaining contact.

 

8km remaining from 176km

Deceuninck-QuickStep, Mitchelton-Scott and Groupama-FDJ are among those represented in numbers in this front group. A reduced bunch sprint appears inevitable.

 

Arnaud Demare is positioned near the head of this front group, with three Groupama-FDJ teammates in front of him.

 

5km remaining from 176km

There is a distinct injection of pace in the peloton as they count down towards the day's second intermediate sprint, which comes just 4km from the finish.

 

4km remaining from 176km

Luis Leon Sanchez looks to repeat his previous feat of slipping away to claim the bonuses. Kwiatkowski comes with him, however, and - I think - pips the Spaniard to the 3 seconds.

 

Kwiatkowski and Sanchez continue with their effort after the sprint, maintaining a small gap over the peloton.

 

Another crash in the peloton, meanwhile, sees Tao Geoghegan Hart and Christophe Laporte among the fallers.

 

3km remaining from 176km

Kwiatkowski and Sanchez hold a small lead over the Groupama-FDJ-led peloton but their rally won't last long.

 

Caleb Ewan was also a faller in the crash. The Australian remounts but he will not sprint for the win today.

 

2km remaining from 176km

After Kwiatkowski and Sanchez's speculative raid is snuffed out, Groupama-FDJ set a brisk pace at the head of the bunch.

 

1km remaining from 176km

Groupama-FDJ lead into the final kilometre. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) lingers with intent behind them, as does Sonny Colbrelli.

 

Demare still has two riders in front of him as the leading group hurtles into Brignoles.

 

Demare opens his sprint from distance but Bennett is closing...

 

Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) wins stage 6 of Paris-Nice.

 

Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) holds on for second place ahead of Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott).

 

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) retains the yellow jersey of overall leader.

 

Demare went early but his acceleration initially looked to have opened a winning gap. Bennett came around him in the final 50 metres, however, and beat the Frenchman to the line with a perfectly-timed bike throw. That's Bennett's second win of the week and his fourth of the season. It's hard to see how Bora-Hansgrohe can justify leaving him out of both the Giro and Tour line-ups at this rate.

 

Result:

1 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe 04:12:35
2 Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
4 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
5 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotels
6 Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie
7 Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
8 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Alexander Kristoff (Fra) UAE Team Emirates
10 Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Team Sky
 

 

General classification:

1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 21:35:36
2 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 0:00:18
3 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:22
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:00
5 Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck-QuickStep
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:01:04
7 Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:08
8 Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:01:17
9 Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:01:21
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:24
 

 

Sam Bennett has Milan-San Remo and the Via Roma in mind: "I wanted to go hard today just for preparation for Milan-San Remo. On the second last climb I didn’t think I was going to make it but I came around, the guys were doing a fantastic job in the final. In the last 5k, the legs were really good, I knew I didn’t have to panic about positioning, I was just following the guys. I thought the gap was closing on me in the finishing straight but it opened again and I was able to kick."

 

"I’ve been working really hard this winter with my first target being San Remo," Bennett continues. "Everything is on track."

 

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) holds yellow and now leads his teammate Egan Bernal by 18 seconds: “It was definitely a hectic stage, with attacks in the crosswind from the start and the peloton was nervous the whole stage. There were lot of technical descents and some crashes, it was a hard stage. I was hoping for an easier day.”

 

Kwiatkowski conceded a second to Luis Leon Sanchez. The Spaniard slipped away to claim the first intermediate sprint but Kwiatkowski beat him to the bunch in the second sprint. “I stayed on his wheel for the last one and I was able to out-sprint him for those seconds. I’m happy but tomorrow will be harder.” Saturday sees the race tackle the Col de Turini, which Kwiatkowski has sampled in training. “It’s going to be a big challenge. We’re very motivated with me and Egan, and having both of us in the front of the race, it’s going to be nice to play.”

 

 

Result:

1 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe 04:12:35
2 Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
4 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
5 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotels
6 Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie
7 Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
8 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Alexander Kristoff (Fra) UAE Team Emirates
10 Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Team Sky

 

General classification:

1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 21:35:36
2 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 0:00:18
3 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:22
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:00
5 Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck-QuickStep
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:01:04
7 Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:08
8 Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:01:17
9 Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:01:21
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:24

 

Thanks for following our live coverage of Paris-Nice this afternoon as Sam Bennett continued his fine start to 2019 with his fourth win of the season. A full report, results and pictures are available here, while all the details from Tirreno-Adriatico stage 3 are here. We'll be back with more live updates tomorrow as Paris-Nice heads for the Col de Turini and the Tirreno-Adriatico gruppo travels to Fossombrone.

 

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