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Paris-Nice stage 5 - Live coverage

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Hello and welcome to the live coverage of stage 5 of Paris-Nice. 

The riders are gathering for the start of the 227km stage, the longest of this year's race. 

The stage rolls south east across central France from Gannat to south of Lyon.

The 227km stage includes four categorised climbs for a total of 13.5km of climbing but the terrain is rolling all day. 

We are likely to see a breakaway attempt, with the sprint teams working ands hoping their man can survive and fight for victory in La Côte-Saint-André.   

It will be fascinating to see if a quality breakaway forms, if the peloton chases and if it will stay away to the finish.  

129 riders left Gannat on the way official start out of town. Tejay Van Garderen (EF Pro Cycling) was the only rider not to start.

There is only a a slight breeze from the southwest and the ride towards Lyon follows a southest direction, so it shouldn't be a factor today. 

In Wednesday's time trial stage, Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) produced a superb performance to win. The Dane covered the 15km course in a time of 18:51 to hold off the late challenge of race leader Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) by six seconds. 

Kasper Asgreen rounded out the top three on a day that also saw Schachmann extend his lead in the overall standings.

After four stages, Schachmann leads Kragh Andersen by 58 seconds but the real damage saw the German put significant time into a number of the pre-race favourites with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain McLaren), Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) all losing significant time.

Click here to read our full report from the time trial and to see full results and our photo gallery.  

SAINTAMANDMONTROND FRANCE MARCH 11 Podium Sren Kragh Andersen of Denmark and Team Sunweb Celebration during the 78th Paris Nice 2020 Stage 4 a 151km Individual Time Trial from SaintAmandMontrond to SaintAmandMontrond ITT ParisNice parisnicecourse PN on March 11 2020 in SaintAmandMontrond France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Riders and teams seemed in good spirits at the start

The race is officially underway and we immediately have some attacks.

Six riders including world champion Mads Pedersen made an attempted to break clear but were soon pulled back. It is surely a sign of more attacks to come.

After 8km we have  another attack ands this one could stick. 

Ryan Mullen (Trek-Segafredo), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2R), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-McLaren), Anthony Turgis (Direct Energie) already lead the peloton by 30 seconds.

Allez le gars! 

The elastic has snapped. The four attackers now lead the peloton by 3:00.  

215km remaining

The peloton will no doubt let the four go clear. Jan Tratnik is the best placed overall of the four. He is 18:10 behind race leader Maximilian Schachmann of Bora.

The gap is up to 5:00.

192km remaining

The break has pushed out their lead to 6:00.

The breakaway has extended their lead to 7:00. Behind Juraj Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Sander Armee (Lotto-Soudal) are leading the pack, working for race leader Schachmann and perhaps for the hopes of Lotto Soudal sprinter Caleb Ewan. 

Despite the growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, the race director Christian Prudhomme insisted on Wednesday evening that the race will reach Paris.

"I can simply say that at this instant, on Wednesday afternoon, we have received assurances that Paris-Nice will 100 percent arrive in Nice," Prudhomme said, according to Le Parisien. "That’s the reality right now, but the race will indeed reach Nice."

France has recorded over 1,700 confirmed Covid-19 cases, and president Emmanuel Macron is due to make a televised national address on the situation on Thursday evening. It is expected that France will declare a stage 3 Covid-19 epidemic in the coming days.

It is unclear if Paris-Nice will continue if Macron raises the level to stade 3.

 

Asked if he was concerned about ASO’s other marquee races, namely Paris-Roubaix (April 12) and the Tour de France (June 27-July 19), Prudhomme said: "We’re 100 percent concentrated on Paris-Nice. I can’t say anything else, because that’s the reality. For the rest, we’ll respect the directives, if there are any."

Click here to read the full story. 

In early December, 2019, the first cases of a mysterious new respiratory illness emerged in Hubei province in China. The disease now known as Covid-19 caused by a new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has spread to every country on the planet. 

In four months the virus has moved from an unknown animal source to the level of a global pandemic, declared by the World Health Organisation on March 11, 2020. 

Cyclingnews followed the course of the outbreaks as they affected the sport of cycling.

Click here to see the timeline.  

Race leader Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) seems he can keep the yellow leader's jersey today. 

“Everything went very well so far. Today is the longest day of the race. Luckily it will be the first dry day today. I have a super strong team with me and I think we should be able to defend the jersey today," he said at the start. 

"Today will depend on who goes for the breakaway and what the other teams do with the sprinters. It’s one of their last chances so they will have to invest something for the sprint." 

Schachmann said that leading Paris-Nice was a big step in his career. 

“I think I’m not yet at the peak of my career but this is a great step and I hope I can continue to develop step by step for the future."

There are four minor climbs today and Anthony Turgis has won the first two, to defend the lead of his Direct Energie teammate in the  KOM competition Jonathan Hivert.  

Oliver Naesen (Ag2R La Mondiale) has quit the stage, apparently with a stomach problem.   

Unfortunately Pascal Ackermann has also been forced to quit the race. That means one less Bora rider to help Schachmann defend his lead.

160km remaining

The work of Bora and Lotto Soudal means the break is pegged at 7:00. 

After several days of racing in the rain, the roads of central France are dry today as this video of a bidon feed from Israel Start-Up Nation shows.  

Still a seven minute gap for our leaders up the road. Just a reminder of their names: Ryan Mullen (Trek-Segafredo), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2R), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-McLaren) and Anthony Turgis (Direct Energie). That's a strong quartet for these conditions, with a lot of firepower involved. 

Despite the loss of Ackermann the Bora squad continue to set the pace at the front of the peloton as they look to protect race leader Max Schachmann. The German has been in the yellow jersey since stage 1 and his fine win, but the coming days will really test his credentials as a genuine contender for the overall title. 

The four leaders have managed to push their advantage out to just over seven minutes with the board reading 7:15 over the peloton with 134km to go in the stage. 

Remember there are three final climbs in the last portion of the stage. They're all quite far out from the finish but we could still see splits in the race. Not many riders will be used to racing over 200km at this point in the season and after five days of tough racing here in Paris-Nice there will undoubtedly be some tired legs in the main field.

Steady as she goes as the peloton roll through along a long stretch of flat roads. Still overcast skies but not much in the way of crosswinds at the moment. 

In other news another race has been called off due to the growing concerns around coronavirus. This time it's the Tour de Bretagne, which was due to take place during the spring. More on that story, right here.

And in further unrelated news Trek Segafredo's Reijnen has spoken about gravel racing and how he feels it could save racing in the US. He has some pretty interesting comments on the topic, actually. Here's our story.

Two more riders have packed at the feedzone. They are Diego Rosa (Arkea-Samsic) and Frederik Backaert (Cofidis). 

This has been rumoured for some time, but Fernando Gaviria has now confirmed that he tested positive for Covid-19. He's still in the UAE and posted a short video online a few minutes ago. You can read the breaking news, right here.

Some quotes from the Gaviria story are here but there's more information in the link below and we're updating the story as we go.

"Hello everyone, there are many rumours circulating in regard to my state of health, but I'm fine," Gaviria said. 

"I've been here, undergoing regular tests, which have returned positive for the coronavirus, but I'm feeling fine. Thank you to my team and to everyone at the hospital who looked after me to perfection." 

108km

Back to Paris-Nice and today's stage, and the gap has dropped to 6:25 with 108km to go.

Max Schachmann seems happy in the peloton

So early action from today's stage. (Image credit: Getty Images)

To completely shift disciplines, here's our race preview for Cape Epic, which starts in a few days time. We'll have comprehensive coverage, including race reports, results, photos and pro bike analysis. Here's our race preview!

Another minute comes off the lead for the break as they hit a small rise in the road, with the gap down to 5'30. They still have plenty of wiggle room but the bunch are in control at the moment.

They lose another 30 seconds as the bunch up their tempo just slightly. There will be a bit of concern from the break but they'll plough on as we head through more rolling terrain and the first of three final climbs on the stage. 

Symphorien-sur-Coise is the town we're racing through now. As ASO point out German superstar Andreas Kloden won a stage of the race here in 2011. He also won this race outright back in 2000. That makes me feel old, very, very old. The German beat  Brochard and Mancebo for the win. Mancebo is still racing... so that makes me feel one less old. So just old.

'My Lord, I have a cunning plan'

The following quote was lifted from ASO's race website. 


“It’s obviously what the peloton is wishing for and after the feed zone, we took our share of the responsibilities by sending Julien Vermote to the front. Elia has not yet shown what he can do but he does not like the cold and the rain and with the return of the sun, he feels better. It does not mean it will be enough to win but we have a plan to lead him out,” Cofidis team director Alain Deloeuil said.


“The peloton should not catch the escapees to early or there might be another attempt in the last two climbs of the day. We are not going to take that risk,” he added.

The gap to the break has dropped down to 3'53 with 72km to go. Naesen was another rider to quick the race today as well. I think we missed him off our list earlier. 

Breaking news: We're hearing reports that Belgian racing has been cancelled until the end of the month. The ban actually extends to all sports, not just cycling. We'll have more on that story later on. 

63km to go

63km to go and the gap is at 3'43 as the break take on the first climb of the day. Mullen is at the back as we take on the Cotee de Treves, it's 3km in length, as at the front of the peloton NTT take things up for their sprinter Nizzolo. The Italian has already won in this race and is looking for a second stage win. He'll need to ensure his team drop a lot of the pure sprinters today.

Over the top of the climb and Turgis takes the maximum of 4 points. That'll help out his teammate Hivert who currently leads the KOM competition. Back with the peloton and the sun is out, with the gap holding at 3'20. We have 59km to go. 

Sunweb are also on the front, presumably for Michael Matthews, who is in the race. The Australian making his season debut here. He's won three stages in the race over the years but one of his standout rides came a few years ago, when he was in the day long break and worked with Alberto Contador when the Spaniard almost snatched the win in dramatic fashion. That day Matthews gave Contador a huge turn on the front  - even though they were on different teams. 

47km to go and the break are holding it together nicely enough with the gap at 3'08. We still have two more climbs to go but no major splits in the bunch so far, with Viviani and Ewan both present and accounted for. 

This isn't good. This isn't good at all. Michael Woods is down and he's in some pain. He's awake and able to communicate with the medics but he's pointing to his right leg or hip before burying his face into his shoulder. We've not seen the actual fall but he looks in some distress. 

Onto the next climb that reaches around 8 per cent in some places, as Mullen hangs on at the back as Turgis once again takes the maximum points. (4). The gap is at 2'40 with 43km to go. The bunch have this under control for now.

Eurosport have reported that Woods is out of the race. That's not surprising given the scenes that we saw earlier. We all hope he's okay and that it's not serious. 

38km to go and the gap is at 2'30 still as we see Vermote for Cofidis on the front of the bunch. Cofidis are doing a lot of the work for Viviani, who is still looking for his first win of the season.

World champion Pedersen drops back and picks up some bidons from the team car as at the front of the field De Gendt sets the pace for Lotto Soudal and Caleb Ewan. With the Belgian on the front it's only a matter of time before the gap drops.

28km to go and the gap is at 1'48. Breaking news and it looks like more and more races are being cancelled with reports (not yet confirmed) that all racing in Belgium will stop until the end of March. More and more noise around this possibly being the final stage of Paris-Nice. That would be a huge blow but not unexpected given the current climate around travel and public health. 

The gap is now 1'48 with 26km to go.

Here's our latest story on the news from Belgium. The situation is changing all the time though.

As if this was a plot from the Thick Of It, the news from Belgian is that the official announcement is not official until it's officially been made official. So for now, I think, those races are still on. I'm officially confused. 

We're just about to dip into the final 20km of stage with the four man break still 1'09 ahead of the main field. The bunch are lined out and a number of riders are starting to struggle under the strain as De Gendt continues to tap out the tempo.

Turgis and Mullen have cracked and that leaves just Tratnik and Gougeard at the front of the race. We have 18km to go and the gap is at 59 seconds. It's almost all over for the break.

We can see Higuita being moved up to the front by his EF teammates as Cofidis move back to the front of the peloton and set the pace. It looks like De Gendt has done his job for the day. The two leaders are currently climbing and they look ragged  to be honest as we see Mullen and now Turgis caught.

And now Bahrain McLaren set up Teuns for the final bonus second and it's close between him and Higuita. No idea who took that. But as the pace slows Alaphilippe attacks and he's marked by Cortina.

The pair sit up and now Bora have to come up and close this down because Cortina has started to work with Alaphilippe and it's Shachmann who has the lead the chase. 

They're caught and the race leader gets on the radio, probably asking where is teammates are as Jungels now attacks and Stuyven goes after him with 14km to go. Meanwhile the break have 36 seconds.

And now with 13km to go we have a great little group off the front with Bilbao, Jungels, Asgreen, Ardnt, and Stuyven. The bunch are around 10 seconds down.  

The two leaders still have 30 seconds by the way and we've only got 11km to go. This could be a really close finish. 

Just over 7km to go and still the two leaders have a lead and now Jan Tratnik has gone clear on his own. He has 16 seconds on the peloton after the Asgreen move was shut down. 

And that's caused De Gendt to come back to the front because Jan Tratnik is a real danger and he's even managing to extend his lead. It's up to 23 seconds. with 6.2km to.

Now it's up to 25 seconds. Sensational stuff from the Bahrain McLaren rider. 5.2km to go.

With Bennett and Ackermann out of the race, that takes out two teams from setting the pace and chasing and Jan Tratnik is taking full advantage as he holds a 24 second with 4.2km and now Gilbert is called into action for Lotto Soudal. The sprinters have been caught out here.

Cofidis and Sunwebe move up now and so to NTT. There's real panic in the bunch because the gap just isn't coming down. 22 seconds with 2.8km to go.

It's down to 21 seconds. 2.5km to go. 

The World Champion comes to the front but even he caught cut the gap as we see Ewan out the back. I  think he has a flat. Terrible luck for him and Lotto.

Sunweb hit the front in numbers and the gap is 12 seconds with 1.3km to go. What a finish.

8 seconds with 1km to.

Now it's 13 seconds with 900m. 

He takes the final corner and gets out of the saddle. 

400m to go for Jan Tratnik

They launch the sprint. 200m to go!

Caught. Caught with less than 100m go.

Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie takes the win.

He launched his sprint from way out and manages to finish well clear of the opposition. Cortina and Sagan were both up there but it's the Italian who takes an unlikely win. What a result for Direct Energie. 

Nothing but heartbreak for Tratnik, who also took an incredible win for Bahrain McLaren. It looked like he would win until around 200m to go.

Here are the results from the stage.

1 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Total-Direct Energie 05:18:02
2 Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain-McLaren
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
5 Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation
6 Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Circus-Wanty Gobert
7 John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
8 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
9 Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
10 Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ

An the GC

1 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 18:49:00
2 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb 00:00:58
3 Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:01:01
4 Nils Politt (Ger) Israel Start-Up Nation 00:01:05
5 Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Pro Cycling 00:01:06
6 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain McLaren 00:01:09
7 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team Sunweb 00:01:11
8 Mads Schmidt Würtz (Den) Israel Start-Up Nation
9 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling 00:01:15
10 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 00:01:16

Here's our stage winner:

"Things are difficult in Italy at the moment, my family have to stay inside, they can’t go out. For the team it's an important day because Paris-Nice is a big race and goal for the season. I've worked well this winter but I've only done eight races and so I was lacking race rhythm in the opening stages. Today I felt good and made sure I was well placed in the final kilometres and then did my sprint and won. This is a little gift for the people at home.""I did a lot of work for Milan-San Remo but that's been cancelled. But I'd noted this stage as one for me and after suffering early on, I managed to produce a good sprint and win.

Here's our report and results from today's stage. 

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