Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 5 of Paris-Nice. After yesterday's uphill finish today we turn our attention to the sprinters and 203km between Vienne and Bollène. We'll have live text coverage throughout the stage, with the riders already on the start line and ready to roll out.
The stage is predominately flat but we've got a third cat climb in the final 40km. Other than that, it's a perfect day for the sprinters but Paris-Nice has a habit of throwing up surprises from time to time. We're just heading through the neutralized zone right now.
Cheers, @rogla !C'est parti pour la 5e étape 😋#ParisNice #MaillotJauneLCL pic.twitter.com/MqSvDFDADUMarch 11, 2021
The CN blimp is up and running, the empty crisp packets have been chucked out - responsibly so - and we're racing on stage 5 of Paris-Nice. Arm warmers for most of the riders this morning but it should brighten up later in the stage. Little wind to speak of but we'll have attacks soon enough and should be treated to a decent break now that the GC has settled and spread out.
No Tao Geoghegan Hart on the start list this morning after he abandoned the race yesterday following a heavy fall. The Ineos team have been in the wars since stage 1 having lost two time winner Richie Porte on day on. Here's the latest news on Tao Geoghegan Hart .
A fast start to proceedings with just under 10km raced already but no splits. Yet.
Over in Italy, and Wout van Aert is up and running after his fourth placed finish in Strade Bianche with a win on stage 1 of Tirreno Adriatico. Here's the race report from yesterday. His big appointment with Milan-San Remo is just over a week away.
192km to go
192km to go on the stage and so far there's very little to report.
The pace dials back for a moment but there's still no consistent action from the front of the peloton and we're still waiting for an attack to stick.
Zwift or Sufferfest, Playstation or Xbox, Monica or Rachel? Here's a story about indoor cycling apps that goes over my head but you might understand.
We've got an intermediate sprint at Vion in about 40km from now. Fingers crossed we have a break before then. We should do but right now there's no major action to report. Here's how things stand on GC coming into today's stage.
Today's a big day for Pascal Ackermann and Bora I'd say. He's not won yet this season and hasn't had the speed or the position in harmony yet. In fact, Bora hasn't won yet this year, which is a bit of a surprise. Plenty of mitigating circumstances, COVID and Sagan, and of course several of their riders were involved in a collision with a car earlier in the year but they'll be desperate to get off the mark today.
20km covered and still no break.
"We are very hopeful that we will reach the French Riviera this time in Paris-Nice,” Prudhomme told Het Nieuwsblad (opens in new tab).
“The [COVID-19] figures in the Alpes Maritimes are moving in the right direction. We remain calm about it. If it turns out differently, we will adapt."
Nothing. Nothing has happened.
All together at #ParisNice since the start of the stage and it wouldn’t be surprising to see things remain like this until the intermediate sprint in Vion.March 11, 2021
There's a break in Tirreno Adriatico if you'd like to go and follow our live coverage from Italy.
Plugge hits back after Evenepoel says Deceuninck won't speak to Groenewegen'Evenepoel is part of the problem with his response' says Richard Pluggehttps://t.co/t7f9fpTwWG pic.twitter.com/Xm1efnXms5March 11, 2021
31.8 km average for the first hour. Could you keep up with that? Think I'd crash into the barriers at the first corner in the neutralized zone, personally.
166km to go
The bunch remain as one as we wait for some action.
Another rider still searching for his first win of the season is Arnaud Démare. He was second on stage 1 and second in a stage in Provence but has yet to find the form that turned him into the best sprinter in the world during the second half of last year.
And what of André Greipel? The German has been rolling back the years with a number of top-ten sprints so far this season and he looks competitive. He hasn't won since the start of 2019 but the 38-year-old could be in the mix again today.
Former world champion Mads Pedersen is another rider to watch today. He's building up for Flanders and Roubaix but already has a win this year after taking a superb victory in Kuurne. He's been second and third in stages in Paris-Nice this week and is going to be in contention again today.
The rider to beat though is Sam Bennett, who won the first stage and has already taken three victories this year. He's got the best leadout and the quickest finish from the evidence we've seen so far.
We're about 20km from the intermediate sprint at Vion.
An update on Cavagna and his mechanical from yesterday. At the time he thought the issue was battery related but according to an update from the team closer inspection from the Deceuninck-QuickStep mechanics showed that crash mode had been inadvertently activated, which meant his rear mech was locked in place to avoid damage. Read more...
We're about 13km from the intermediate sprint at Vion. Still no action from the main field at this point but once the sprint has been completed we should see riders and teams try and break away. This looks like a nailed on bunch sprint though.
Away from the road scene, we've talked to Ted King about life on the road as a gravel racer and bikepacker. Here's our story over at Bikeperfect.
Who had Jasha Sutterlin winning the intermediate sprint? He took 3 points/seconds ahead of Schachmann and Hamilton.
Surely that increase in pace will lead to some splits and a break forming.
#ParisNice 🇫🇷Still no breakaway on stage 5 with 140km to go.The bunch stayed together for the intermediate sprint with @lucashamilton8 getting up for 3rd 👊 pic.twitter.com/UiYcb3IPL0March 11, 2021
Those seconds for Schachmann could be important for the GC with the defending champion taking back 2 seconds on race leader Primoz Roglic. The gap between them now is 33 seconds and it gives the German a bit more breathing room between himself and McNulty in third.
133km to go
133km to go and the race is still all together. I'm sorry.
126km to go in the stage and the bunch continue to ride as one.
A few teams have posted riders on the front but there's no real intent to either lift the pace or try and break things up. It looks as though the peloton have settled on a bunch sprint but there are teams without genuine sprint contenders here so it's a surprise to see such a lull.
The wind has picked up since the start and that's perhaps one of the reasons why we've seen so few attacks. We can see Gilbert near the front and taking to a teammate. He was on the attack earlier in the week so might try again today as he looks to stretch his legs and build form ahead of Milan-San Remo.
Only gentle breeze at the @ParisNice finish in Bollene at the mo. It was pretty blowy on the autoroute coming down though #ParisNice pic.twitter.com/LVeOxwETN3March 11, 2021
Some really interesting comments from Brent Copeland last night on how more men's teams should invest in women's squads. He's part of the BikeExchange setup that supports both a men's and women's WorldTour team. Here's the story.
💠 @ParisNice We are living a long day on the road, the peloton is riding through the landscapes of Rhône-Alpes staying all together with 120 km to go. #ParisNice 📸 @GettySport pic.twitter.com/8SeqUyg4CTMarch 11, 2021
The bunch are holding 32km for the stage as we head into the third hour of action.
Peter Sagan is on the comeback trail after his positive test for COVID-19. He was 11th on stage one in Tirreno and has talked about his lack of form. Here's the former three time world champion.
101km to go in the stage, so we're just over the half-way point.
George Bennett, who rode well yesterday, talked to CN about his teammate and race leader, Primoz Roglic.
Bennett admitted he isn’t yet close to his best this season. “I’m creeping a little bit,” he said at the finish. He added that a recent training camp in Tenerife had not only suggested this, but also underlined Roglič’s excellent condition.
“He’s insane,” Bennett stated. “I was the worst guy on that camp and it was pretty scary watching those boys train and seeing what he was doing at the same time. I’ve never seen him so good, if I’m honest. I think this is the best he’s ever been.
“I’m glad he showed the world today that it’s not just training form. It translates, and he’s just such a special rider. I’m happy he’s on my team.”
I'm looking ahead to the one and only climb that comes with 33km to go. The Côte de Saint-Restitut is just a third cat but it could be a launchpad for an attack.
At the moment though we're rolling along at just over 32kph. We're still waiting for the first meaningful attack as we see Tony Martin on the front.
Roglic is near the front but just tapping out a really gentle pace as we see Sam Bennett having a natter with a rider on BikeExchange. Breaking news: Andre Greipel is eating lunch.
86km to go
If you're just joining us, the big news today is that the final stage is facing alteration. Here's the news item.
Roglic and Martin ride next to each other, while at the front EF and Bora find themselves close to the action.
#ParisNice 🇫🇷We're inside the last 80km and no breakaway has formed all day, it's been a relaxed stage so far.We have a cat 3️⃣ to come followed by a sprint in Derboux before the flat run to the finish. pic.twitter.com/aAkz9tsHJgMarch 11, 2021
We have a race. We have a race.
70km to go
Oliver Naesen (Ag2R-Citroen) and Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) put their heads together with 70k to go and create a large group. It was Naesen who sprinted out the peloton first and a bunch of riders followed him.
De Gent is there, Lampaert, Stuyven, Campenaerts. It's a Belgian day out with about 12 riders all from Belgium attacking together.
It looks like Trek have three riders and the gap is about 9 seconds and the peloton are strung out as they try and get on terms.
It's Bora who are looking to close the gap and it's slowing coming back together.
Gilbert on the front and he might have another go but the race is truly on.
Deceuninck-QuickStep have said enough is enough and they've moved to the front as one big group and started to control the pace. 64km to go.
The sting has gone out of the race once more with 54km to go as Groupama share the pace setting with Sam Bennnett's team. 54km to go.
Paris-Nice will not end on Promenade des Anglais, regional authorities say #ParisNice2021March 11, 2021
Demare has posted a few more men on the front as we dip into the final 50km of action but Bahrain are coming up too for Bauhaus as they look to keep the German sprinter out of trouble. We've had a lot of crashes in this race but the race is really on.
We're still some way from the climb but Tony Martin is back on front and he means business. Virtually every team wants to be at the front and we've got a change in direction coming up.
Riders are sprinting out of the corners right now, and the intensity is right up now.
Alpecin are on the left and Jumbo on the right, with Bora moving up through the middle as we head towards the final 45km of the stage.
Bouhanni is being protected at the front by Arkea, while Trentin is leading Kristoff right now, while at the back some riders are almost sprinting to stay with the peloton.
Cofidis take over at the front but we're still some way from this third climb. They must be worried about cross-winds.
QuickStep aren't involved though and that's perhaps an indication that the wind isn't strong enough to split the field.
42km to go
And we've another section of road furniture coming up with Bennett's sprint train finally coming back to the front of the peloton.
Crash at the back and Bevin and two other riders are down.
De Plus has been held up and he needs a bike or a wheel. Everyone else is back up and chasing as we see De Plus get a new rear wheel.
Ineos have had only bad luck since the race started and De Plus gets going but then needs to stop and get an entire new bike. He'll find it hard coming back at this point because the pace is up. 37km to go.
So much road furniture now and it's causing the peloton to split and reform every few hundred meters. Deceuninck-QuickStep on the front.
Crash and this time it's Roglic who is down. And Tony Martin. 35km to go.
The race leader is back up and chasing but Martin isn't in a good way. He's standing but he can't continue. No chance.
He might have hit his head but he's being checked and he's sitting down. His race is probably over.
The road just narrowed at that point and Martin was the first rider to go down. 34km to go and Deceuninck-QuickStep are still on the front alongside Bora and Astana.
34km to go
We're on the Côte de Saint-Restitut and Bora lead us over the top and start the descent. It's a really tight descent coming up as we see Martin about to leave the race.
Astana lead down this winding descent with 32km to go as we head into the final 45 minutes of racing. Thankfully we have dry roads and this isn't too sketchy.
Confirmation now that Tony Martin has abandoned the race.
Roglic, meanwhile, is back with the main field and looking relatively okay. He's at the back but has plenty of time to move up before the intermediate sprint and then the finish.
Results from the previous climb
1. Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) 3 points
2. Grossschatner (Bora-Hanrgrohe) 2 points
3. Fraile (Astana) 1 point
We do have an intermediate sprint coming up with 16km to go. Not sure any of the top sprinters will get involved but it could be one for Schachmann to try and claw back some more time on Roglic.
The intermediate sprint also comes at the top of an uncategorized climb, so almost perfect for Schachmann to try.
Nizzolo and Demare are riding side by side. I didn't mention the Italian before but he's also a huge favourite for the sprint today.
The road has widened again as we see De Plus finally come back after his long chase.
Deceuninck-QuickStep have moved Bennett right to the front with 23km to go and we're hurtling towards the finish now.
20km to go and the pace has shot up dramatically. Some of these sprint trains are going to run out of riders before the final 10km at this rate.
Big turn coming up...
Everyone makes it through safely.
The pace eases just for a moment as we head towards the intermediate sprint. 19km to go. Schachmann is near the front and well placed.
1k from the summit of this short 3rd cat climb. Schachmann is lurking near the front still. Roglic is a bit further back.
Izagirre takes it, Schachmann second and Benoot is third.
That will move the Astana rider up to fourth. The rider he overtakes? His teammate Vlasov.
Another crash and it's Stan Dewulf. Heavy fall but he's okay and back on his feet.
The Belgian takes a new bike but is chasing back.
13km to go
And Deceuninck-QuickStep still have the numbers for the sprint as they lead the peloton and things start to string out a little bit as the road narrows once more.
Mads Pedersen can be seen too, as Trek gather around the Dane and make sure that he's well placed.
10km to go
There's no room to move up at this point as Roglic sits just behind a teammate, and alongside Bennett. The German sprinter Ackermann is near the front as well and still searching for his firs win of the campaign.
Deceuninck-QuickStep line the peloton out as we head through another sleepy French town and along narrow roads. Big turn coming.
Riders are having to sprint to close gaps as Deceuninck-QuickStep lead us through a few tight corners. The entire bunch is now strung out.
Trek are well placed with 6.5km to go.
DSM hit the front with Bol in contention. There's so much road furniture around.
Just over 5km to go and Benoot leads DSM.
Deceuninck-QuickStep respond and take over through another corner.
Pedersen looks really well placed and has plenty of riders around him.
Jasper Philipsen is moving up now with his train. 4km to go.
Now Trek take over but we've still got 3.4km to go. Too soon?
Demare and Ackermann move up, Bennett is well placed too.
Trek lead with three riders. 2.6km to go.
Demare needs to make up ground. 2.2km to go. They're coming up now.
Trek have been split.
Here come Deceuninck-QuickStep with 1.4k to go.
Now Deceuninck-QuickStep lead out. 800m to go.
Perfect lead out so far for Bennett. Bouhanni is moving up though.
Morkov peels off and Bennett kicks.
Sam Bennett wins stage 5 of Paris-Nice.
Never in doubt.
It looks like Bouhanni was second and Ackermann third.
1 Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-QuickStep 05:16:01
2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
3 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
5 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos
6 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
7 Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
8 Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
9 Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation
10 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
General classification after stage 5
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma 18:42:46
2 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:31
3 Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:37
4 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 00:00:40
5 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech 00:00:41
6 Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team 00:00:56
7 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM 00:01:04
8 Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange 00:01:08
9 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 00:01:11
10 Pierre Latour (Fra) Total Direct Energie 00:01:12
Let's hear from today's winner Sam Bennett:
"The guys were incredible today. I was suffering the last few k. I don't know what it is but people won't let me follow my own train here. It's frustrating in the final. I just got back on before the roundabout. It was a very hard final. I didn't think I would hold it to the line but the guys did an incredible job and I'm just proud I could finish it off.For some reason I'm not left to follow my own wheel, guys are coming in and it seems like they just want to disrupt our sprint instead of concentrating on their own race. We don't look at anybody else, so I don't know why they're getting so fixated on us. Maybe my teammates are too strong.
"I was really happy to get the first stage and was really, really disappointed the second sprint day - to get close and not to get to compete that day. I really wanted to make up for it today. I can't thank the guys enough.From now it will be a bit of strength and conditioning until the end of the race and then Sanremo.
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