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Paris-Nice stage 6 - live coverage

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Stage 6 of Paris-Nice brings the peloton from Brignoles to Biot, following a rugged 202km route that takes in five classified climbs, including the category 1 Côte de Cabris and the category 2 Col du Ferrier. Although the last classified ascent comes with 50km to go, there are plenty of rolling roads on the run-in before the uphill final two kilometres into Biot. Roll out is at 10.55 CET.

The general classification before the start is as follows:

The peloton is making its way through the neutralised zone in Brignoles. The temperature is 14°C and there is no rain forecast on the road to Biot today.

The news of the day comes from neither Paris-Nice nor from Tirreno-Adriatico. Richard Freeman, the former chief doctor of Team Sky and British Cycling, has been found guilty of ordering banned testosterone “knowing or believing” it was to be given to an unnamed rider to improve their athletic performance. The verdict was announced by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester this morning. We’ll have more on this breaking story and its implications throughout the day.

-202km

The pace is brisk in the opening kilometres, but no break has formed as yet. The category 2 Côte des Tuilières (2.2km at 7.8%) is the first of the day’s classified climbs after 52km, followed shortly afterwards by the Côte de Mont Méaulx. The Côte de Cabris (7.6km at 5.8%) at the midpoint is the lone category 1 ascent, and it leads directly to the category 2 Col du Ferrier (4.3km at 6.8%). The category 3 Côte de Gourdon after 156km is the final classified ascent but the road rises and dips all through the run-in before that final, 2km-long kick towards the finish.

-189km

-184km

Medical Practitioners Tribunal chair Neil Dalton delivered the verdict against the former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman. “The tribunal had found that you, Dr Freeman placed the order, and obtained the Testogel, knowing or believing it was to be administered to an athlete to improve their athletic performance. The motive for your action was to conceal a conduct,” he said. Read more details here.

-178km

Roglic rejoins the peloton, while Trentin and Cavagna are - slowly - edging their lead out towards 20 seconds.

-175km

-171km

-169km

The combination of high speeds and rolling roads often sees the selection come from the back of the bunch rather than the front, and that appears to be the case here. A sizeable group of riders has now been deposited out the back of the peloton.

-157km

Anthony Perez (Cofidis) is joined by Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Casper Pedersen (DSM) and Ben Swift (Ineos) with a 10-second lead at the front of the race as they approach the Côte des Tuilières (2.2km at 7.8%). 

-152km

Perez maintains his forcing on the climb in search of the king of the mountains points, and his three companions can't follow. Five more riders make it across, however: Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Julien El Fares (EF Education-Nippo), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Premier Tech), Jonathan Hivert (B&B Hotels) and Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos)

Perez led Elissonde and Lutsenko over the top of the Tuilieres, and the six escapees are pushing out their advantage over the other side. 

-144km

After that frantic start, it appears as though the peloton is content to grant this sextet a little freedom. Kenny Elissonde is the highest placed rider on GC. He began the day 2:24 down in 31st place overall. 

For the second year running, coronavirus restrictions mean that Paris-Nice won’t make it all the way to Nice, though, unlike in 2020, the race will run its full complement of stages, albeit with modifications. Saturday’s stage has been shortened to 119km but the summit finish at La Colmiane has been maintained. Sunday’s concluding stage has been reduced to just 92km and will feature an uphill finish in Levens rather than the planned grand finale on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

-141km

Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ), who crashed on the opening stage on Sunday, has abandoned Paris-Nice. 

-136km

Perez was first to the top of the Meaulx ahead of Campenaerts and Elissonde. The peloton passes the same point 2:50 behind.

-125km

The biggest portion of the day’s climbing is coming up in 15km or so in the form of a two-part ascent. The category 1 Côte de Cabris (7.6km at 5.8%) leads more or less directly onto the immediately by the category 2 Col du Ferrier (4.3km at 6.8%). Over the top of the Ferrier, the road continues to rise and dip along a ridge before the gradual descent towards the intermediate sprint in Cipières.

-116km

-108km

Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) has crashed in the peloton. The American began the day in third overall, 37 seconds behind Roglic. 

Brandon McNulty has been forced to abandon Paris-Nice after his crash. The race was an important step on his build-up towards the Giro d'Italia and he had impressed throughout the week to lie third overall after five stages.

-102km

The six leaders, meanwhile, are on the upper slopes of the Côte de Cabris, still holding an advantage of 2:25 over the peloton.

-97km

Situation

Shane Sutton is the first figure associated with Team Sky and British Cycling to react publicly to the news that Dr Richard Freeman has been found guilty by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal of ordering testosterone "knowing or believing" it was for a rider. Sutton, of course, was implicated in the affair when Freeman claimed the Testogel he had ordered was intended to treat the Australian's erectile dysfunction. Sutton denied this and claimed Freeman was lying.

Former UCI president Brian Cookson was head of British Cycling at the time of the incident. He has now issued a statement saying that he is "tremendously disappointed and saddened at the verdict of the MPTS in the case against Dr Richard Freeman announced today (Friday 12 March 2021) and  the damage his actions have done to our sport." Cookson has pledged to "co-operate fully" with the UK Anti-Doping investigation into the case. "I also call upon any other person who has evidence on this matter to do the same," he added.

There has been no statement as yet from Ineos Grenadiers or their manager Dave Brailsford. While Brailsford has in recent months found his tongue for long enough to talk up his squad's new commitment to attacking racing, he has - for the past four years - been studied in his silence on the Freeman case. Freeman’s barrister Mary O’Rourke noted as much during the hearing: “Dave Brailsford is the spectre missing at these proceedings and would have been able to answer an awful lot of questions about what was going on at British Cycling and Team Sky,”

-90km

An early update from UAE Team Emirates following the crash that brought an unfortunate end to Brandon McNulty's race.

Team BikeExchange, meanwhile, report that Kaden Groves abandoned as he was still suffering from the lingering effects of his crash at the UAE Tour last month.

-85km

-81km

-77km

The long stretches of climbing in the third hour of racing has brought the average speed down accordingly. Letour.fr reports that the average speed to this point is still a brisk 40.8kph.

-68km

Paris-Nice 2021

Anthony Perez's aggression on the first climb was the catalyst for the break of the day. (Image credit: Getty Images)

-61km

Team BikeExchange are the squad leading the peloton on behalf of Michael Matthews. The Australian would fancy his chances of surviving that drag to the line and outkicking all comers, but there is scope for late attackers to upset that plan on the run-in.

The road is climbing again towards the intermediate sprint in Cipières and a number of fast men are being dropped from the rear of the peloton, including Cees Bol (DSM). 

Out in front, Anthony Perez and Julien El Fares are losing contact with the break. 

-56.5km

Shane Sutton has reacted to the news that former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman has been  found guilty of ordering testosterone “knowing or believing” that it was for the benefit of a rider to enhance their performance. “I feel for the doctor; that he ever got into this situation, and I remain disappointed that I was used as a scapegoat. It has caused great pain to both me and my family. But it also saddens me that this episode has cast a huge shadow over the success we enjoyed, both at Team Sky and British Cycling." Read more here.

-51km

This isn't the last of the day's climbing, of course. The road climbs stiffly towards the intermediate sprint at Roquefort-les-Pins with 17km to go, and there is, of course, that 2km rise to the finish line too.

Jumbo-Visma take up the reins in the peloton on the category 3 Côte de Gourdon (4km at 3.7%). They have cut the break's lead to 2:14, and so Elissonde is no longer the virtual race leader. The Dutch squad's forcing has lined out the peloton, with several riders being trailed off at the back.

-47km

-46km

-43km

-40km

Victor Campenaerts drives the pace in the break on this sweeping descent. The Belgian is reinventing himself slightly this season after accepting that Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert will represent Belgium in the time trial at the Tokyo Olympics. It will be interesting to see how he fares on the cobbles in the weeks ahead. 

Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), second on GC, is chasing his way back up to the peloton through the team cars. It appears the German had a mechanical issue,  but he looks set to make it back on without great difficulty. The defending champion is 31 seconds behind Roglic, and he might fancy his chances of having a go on today's uphill finale.

-34km

-32km

-31km

-29km

BikeExchange, Bahrain-Victorious and Cofidis swap turns at the head of the peloton. Roglic and his Jumbo-Visma team are well placed just behind them. Green jersey Sam Bennett has also made it back to the peloton after being among the riders to lose contact on the last climb.

-26km

-25km

The road will start climbing again shortly towards the intermediate sprint at Roquefort-les-Pins. Lutsenko is almost back in touch with the three leaders, while the peloton is at 40 seconds.

-23km

Cofidis and Deceuninck-QuickStep swap turns at the head of the peloton, while a delegation from Jumbo-Visma sits tucked in behind them.

-21km

-20km

Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) has been dropped by the peloton, and he surely won't make it back on to contest the finish this afternoon.

-19.5km

Nacer Bouhanni and Magnus Cort are at the rear of the peloton, trying desperately to hang on. The reduced bunch is 32 seconds behind the lone leader Elissonde.

-17.5km

-16km

Sam Bennett showed his form by surviving the climbs, and the green jersey is prominent towards the head of the bunch. Other fast men still in contention are Alexander Kristoff and, of course, Michael Matthews. Whatever the result on the long drag to the line, it's an encouraging step towards Milan-San Remo for Bennett and Kristoff.

-13.5km

-12km

Rutsch does the bulk of the pace-making out in front, while Elissonde - understandably, after his long day in front - is at times visibly struggling to hold the German's wheel.

Deceuninck-QuicKStep's Mattia Cattaneo rides at the head of the peloton, with Tim Declercq on his wheel. Sam Bennett is posted near the front with Michael Morkov.

-10km

-9km

Jonas Rutsch is getting exasperated with Elissonde's unwillingness to come through, though his annoyance is perhaps misplaced. Elissonde has been on the front for much of the day, after all. The onus was always going to be on the fresher Rutsch to perform the bulk of the work at this point.

-7km

-6km

-4.5km

-4km

Elissonde comes through but this might be the last time. The Deceuninck-QuickStep-led bunch is almost upon them.

-3km

Out in front, Elissonde has also relented. Rutch is alone in front, but his cameo is almost at an end.

-2.5km

-1.5km

-1km

Florian Senechal sits on front with Roglic on his wheel. The bunch is stringing out and Bouhanni and Kristoff are among the fast men dropped...

Sam Bennett is dropped... This is no finish for the pure fast men, but Michael Matthews and Bryan Coquard are still in there somewhere...

Guillaume Martin kicks with 400m to go. Primoz Roglic follows...

Roglic kicks inside the final 200m. Christophe Laporte is on his wheel...

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) wins stage 6 of Paris-Nice.

Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) was second ahead of Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious). 

Roglic won that sprint with disarming ease to add another 10 seconds in time bonuses to his overall lead. His partner and infant son are the first people to greet the yellow jersey after he crosses the line. 

Result

General classification

Primoz Roglic

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) on his stage victory: “It’s just cool, eh, to win like this. It’s something new again and I’m super, super happy to do it. It was just the whole day really hard, really from the beginning, and that’s why I thought at the end, ‘We’re all tired, so why not?’ It was beautiful that I could do it.”

Roglic appears unconcerned by the changes to the route this weekend.  “I have to deal with it, what they give us. So I don’t really care about. I just expect full gas racing because they are quite short both of them. For sure, it will be very exciting for the people watching it.” The Slovenian downplays the idea that he will focus his attention on marking Schachmann in the final two days. “My focus is on myself. If I can stay focused with the whole team and we can do our job, then it’s fine. Normally the results will follow then.”

A full report, results and photos from today's stage are available here.

Paris-Nice

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Paris-Nice

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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