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Paris-Nice 2019: Stage 7

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Hello and welcome to the penultimate day of action at Paris-Nice. The riders are signing on in Nice on a lovely sunny morning and we should be on our way very soon. 

The riders will be rolling out from Nice in around 10 minutes and will make their way through quite a lengthy neutral zone before the racing actually gets underway. There are six climbs on the menu today, including second category ascents very early on, a third category and two first category right at the end. 

Yesterday's stage saw a reduced bunch sprint with 40 riders making it into the front group. A number of sprinters made it into that group and it was Sam Bennett that came up trumps at the end. Watch highlights of the day here

Though it wasn't a true GC day yesterday, there was still a tussle for the bonus seconds at the intermediate sprints. Luis Leon Sanchez and Michal Kwiatkowski won one sprint each. However, Kwiatkowski still leads the overall classification ahead of his teammate Egan Bernal. This is how things look this morning. 

The weather forecast for today is for mild temperatures and a small bit of wind, but it should not be anywhere near as windy as it was earlier this week. Here is Kwiatkowski lining up at the start, will he have yellow at the end of the day?

The riders are on their way through this lengthy neutral zone. Three riders didn't take the start today and, unsurprisingly, they're all sprinters. They are Caleb Ewan, Dylan Groenewegen and Edvald Boasson Hagen. 

There were a number of crashes during yesterday's stage and one of the fallers was Rafa Valls. The Movistar rider was left with a broken collarbone as a result of his fall. 

Of course, Tirreno-Adriatico is also on today and you can follow my colleague Susan Westemeyer for coverage of stage 4 of that race, here

Team Sky find themselves in an enviable position going into today's stage with two riders at the top of the GC. DS Nicolas Portal told Le Dauphine Libere that ego will not get in the way between the two teammates. 

A few minutes later than expected, the flag has been dropped and racing can begin. 

I'm going to make a bold prediction that Thomas De Gendt will try to get into the breakaway today. I know, it's a long-shot. However, the Belgian leads the mountains classification and there are a lot of mountains points on offer today.

This is what the mountains classification looks like at the start of the day. I anticipate that Gaudin and De Marchi will also try to get involved. Much like De Gendt, De Marchi has rarely seen a breakaway he doesn't like. 

No attacks just yet and the peloton is still all together as they start the first climb of the day, the Cote de Gattieres.

Team Sky are getting a bit of a free ride for now as Lotto Soudal lead the peloton on this climb. 

Tomorrow will see the second round of the Women's WorldTour with the Ronde van Drenthe. You can find a full preview of the event here.

The early work pays off for Lotto Soudal and De Gendt takes full points at the top of the first climb, ahead of Jonathan Hivert and Alessandro De Marchi. 

168km remaining from 181km

The peloton continues as one for the moment with no concerted attempt to get off the front. Lotto Soudal seems happy to try and keep it together for now and mop up the points from the front of the peloton. 

There have been a few tentative moves as we approach the second climb of the day but no breakaway has been formed just yet. Today is unlikely to be one for the break, but you have to be in it to win it. 

156km remaining from 181km

The riders are on the short descent after a lengthy stretch heading uphill. More attacks come but the peloton is still as one, for now. 

Is that an attack I see before me? Three riders have broke clear of the Lotto Soudal-controlled group and have a small gap. Can they get away or will they too be reeled back in?

Three have now become 30 and Thomas De Gendt is among their number. 

This large group of riders, now 31, has 55 seconds on the peloton. This looks like it could be the move of the day.

Trek-Segafredo's Julien Bernard wants to get in on the party up front and he's chasing hard to bridge the gap. He's about 35 seconds behind the leading group at the moment. 

The riders in this leading group are: Jaime Carretero, Simon Yates, Mikel Nieve, Miguel Angel Lopez, Magnus Cort, Thomas De Gendt, Ivan Garcia, Kristjan Koren, Pawel Poljanski, Mikael Cherel, Mathias Frank, Sergio Henao, Rory Sutherland, Giulio Ciccone, Jarlinson Pantano, Arnaud Demare, Elie Gesbert, LLaurent Pichon, Pascal Eenkhorn, Mike Teunissen, Daniel Martinez, Nicolas Edet, Mathias Le Turnier, Victor De la Parte, Alessandro De Marchi, Jonathan Hivert, Cyril Gautier, Quientin Pacher, Romain Combaud, Julien EL Fares and Edvaldas Siskevicius.

News coming in that Sam Bennett has decided to step off. He has won two stages this week and was wearing the green jersey. 

My apologies, it is Hector Carraterro in the lead group. 

More riders have made it over to the leading group and they are: Nils Politt, Scott Davies, Simon, Tim Declercq, Amael Moinard, Ramunas Navardauskas, Philippe Gilbert and Julian Bernard. We now have 38 up front with Mauro Finetto trying to get across. The current gap is 1:44 on the peloton and 1:35 on Finetto. 

Ciccone briefly tried to get away from the large leading group but he was brought back in time for the second KOM. Thomas De Gendt took the full points again with Alessandro De Marchi behind him for second place. 

129km remaining from 181km

The next climb today is the 7.8km Côte de Coursegoules, which averages five per cent. The peloton is keeping a close eye on this breakaway and the gap is hovering just below the 2:30 mark now. 

The best placed member of the breakaway in the overall standings is Philippe Gilbert, who is just 2:01 behind Michal Kwiatkowski, so Team Sky does not want to allow him too much room. 

There are, of course, some very strong climbers in this group. They all lost some serious time in the crosswinds or the time trial, or both, and are looking for something out of this race. The stand-out names in that group are Simon Yates, Miguel Angel Lopez, Sergio Henao, Jarlinson Pantano and Daniel Martinez. 

Away from the racing, well slightly, the UCI has decided to backtrack on fining riders for being late to their slot for sign-on. There were a lot of fines doled out during the UAE Tour for being late and riders threatened to protest ahead of the final stage with UCI president David Lappartient forced to step in and avoid embarrassment for the governing body. Read the full story here.

Another rider decides to call it quits with Arthur Vichot stepping off his bike. We had three non-starters this morning with Ewan, Groenewegen and Boasson Hagen not signing on. Sam Bennett climbed off a short while ago too. A lot of the sprinters don't fancy today's offering. 

The riders are enjoying a slight cross-tailwind at the moment, which may have helped with their fairly zippy start. The average speed over the opening hour of racing was a tidy 41.5kph.

113km remaining from 181km

The leaders are just a kilometre from the top of the third climb and the gap continues to edge out. It stands at 3:25 now. 

Hearing that De Gendt has taken the full points again. That's another seven for his pocket, bringing his total for just today to 21 and his overall total to 50. 

No sooner to the leaders tackle the third climb, they reach the first of the intermediate sprints. Philippe Gilbert nabs the points and some bonus seconds with it. That puts him 1:58 behind Kwiatkowski in the overall standings. 

We also have confirmation of the result at the top of the Coursegoules with De Gendt taking the top spot and De Marchi in second once again. 

100km remaining from 181km

Team Sky and Team Sunweb have been working on the front of the peloton. They are the only two teams without someone in the breakaway. 

The pace has upped in the peloton and the gap begins to come back down again. The riders are on a small plateau midway down the descent from that last climb and they will shortly be descending again. There is then a brief passage through the valley before the road kicks up again for the fourth of six climbs. 

The next climb is the Cote de Gillette (insert your own close shave jokes here). It is the least challenging of the six ascents today. It is just two kilometres and averages 5.6 per cent. It precedes the two most challenging, the Cote de Pelasque and the Col de Turini. 

The Col de Turini is the star attraction on today's stage. It has been used three times in the Tour de France but this is the first time it will feature in Paris-Nice. It is best known as the host of a stage of the Monte Carlo rally. It was traditionally driven at night, but that has changed in recent years. 

Here is a close look at the leading group with Thomas De Gendt resplendent in the polka-dot jersey. 

A puncture for Romain Bardet and he has to stop to pick up a new wheel. 

News coming in from Italy is that Geraint Thomas has abandoned Tirreno-Adriatico with stomach problems. You can read more about that here.

There has been a crash in the lead group. No news on the riders involved just yet. 

73km remaining from 181km

Frank must be more hurt than it first seemed. After initially getting back on and starting to chase, he has decided to stop and climb off his bike. We will bring you more news as we have it. 

So, that means that Pichon is now chasing alone. 

It is a short chase for Pichon and he is back with the group. 

A spot of lunch for the riders as they pass through the feed zone. The gap expands to 4:50 as they do so. 

57km remaining from 181km

The leaders are about to go over the top of the Cote de Gillette. There will be a long run from the top of that to the bottom of the next climb. 

Once again, De Gendt is king at the top of the climb. He collects another four points for his efforts with De Marchi notching up two. 

De Gendt now has 54 points in the king of the mountains competition with De Marchi now on 35 and sitting in second place. 

Farewell friends, I'm going to hand over to Daniel Ostanek to take you through the final 50 kilometres of today's stage. 

Daniel here, taking over from Sadhbh.

The peloton lies six minutes down on the two leaders.

There's some time on the false flats of the valley now for the break, before the climbing starts again with the first category Côte de Pelasque, which tops out at 161.5km.

42km remaining from 181km

De Gendt and De Marchi are back with the break now. Not much point in sticking out front in this long stretch in the valley.

The break are a few kilometres away from the penultimate climb of the day now. Sky still control the peloton, just under six minutes further back.

Astana and EF Education First are also present at the front of the peloton. The Kazakh squad are riding for Luis León Sánchez, who lies 22 seconds down on race leader Kwiatkowski.

The Côte de Pelasque looms for the break now. It's 5.7km long and averaged 6.4%. We should see the resumption of hostilities out front, and a good indication as to how Gilbert is climbing. Could he pull off the unlikely today?

27km remaining from 181km

It doesn't last long though. He's back with the break now.

Mikel Nieve is leading the peloton on the early slopes of the climb. Mitchelton-Scott will be aiming for a Simon Yates stage win today.

Meanwhile, the entirety of Team Sky are powering the peloton along.

25km remaining from 181km

Gilbert's virtual GC lead is 3:20 right now. The peloton are five minutes down on the break.

The GPS is wildly swinging from 3:30 to almost five minutes at the moment. We'll wait for it to settle down.

Winner Anacona (Movistar) attacks from the peloton. The Spanish team look to be laying the groundwork for a Nairo Quintana attack later on. He lies 1:06 down on Kwiatkowski.

The peloton are 5:26 behind the break now – that seems to be the most believable figure at the moment. The GPS is showing 5:30 for Anacona, who has just gone on the attack though, so things haven't worked themselves out just yet...

21km remaining from 181km

A very short descent now to the foot of the final climb of the day, the Col de Turini.

19km remaining from 181km

Nieve and Moinard are chasing back to the breakaway group on the descent.

Eurosport with a quick interview with Romain Bardet on today's final climb.

16km remaining from 181km

Poljanski has attacked from the break. He leads the rest by 15 seconds. Anacona is still out there, around 5:30 behind him, while the peloton remain at 6:15 back.

14km remaining from 181km

11km remaining from 181km

Meanwhile, a thrilling finale to Tirreno-Adriatico stage 4 has just gone down. Catch up with the live report here, and look out for the full stage report coming soon.

9km remaining from 181km

9km remaining from 181km

The peloton has slimmed down too, with Sky still setting the pace.

Edet drops.

8km remaining from 181km

Tao Geoghegan Hart leads the peloton now. Ivan Sosa and Egan Bernal are also there for Sky, as is the yellow jersey Kwiatkowski.

7km remaining from 181km

6km remaining from 181km

5km remaining from 181km

Gilbert is a minute behind the leaders now. The peloton are 5:50 back.

Ciccone, De Marchi and de la Parte are with Gilbert.

4km remaining from 181km

The attacks will surely come from the peloton at some point. The only question is when they'll be launched. Gilbert is looking very dangerous right now, two minutes up on the virtual GC.

3km remaining from 181km

Sosa rides on the front now, while Bernal looks around in the peloton. Third overall will be up for grabs as Luis León Sánchez is dropped.

And now Yates and Edet are with the two Colombians. Four up front again.

2km remaining from 181km

Martínez responds first, while Lopez eventually makes it across. Edet is dropped.

And Kwiatkowski is dropping in the peloton! Bernal did look antsy before...

1km remaining from 181km

1km remaining from 181km

Lopez is with him, Yates chasing.

0km remaining from 181km

Yates was close to making it back before the duo upped the pace again.

Dani Martínez (EF Education First) takes the win! He launches his sprint for the line from the front and Lopez has no answer.

Lopez finishes 9 seconds back, while Edet passes Yates for third, around 23 seconds back.

Bernal and Quintana have left the remains of the peloton behind now, leaving Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) behind. They're in the final kilometre.

We're still waiting for Gilbert and it looks like he won't take yellow today.

Gilbert finishes 2:52 down.

Quintana and Bernal finish less than a minute behind Gilbert. Bernal is the new race leader!

Stage result

General Classification

A great day's racing both here and at Tirreno-Adriatico, with a pair of fantastic finishes.

You can find a full report of today's action here.

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