Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the penultimate stage of Paris-Nice, which will see the peloton do battle on the summit finish of the Col de Turini.
140km to go
The riders began at 10:20 and navigated a ten kilometre neutral zone. Almost immediately as the flag dropped, a large group comprised of 18 riders attacked and have built up a lead 1'20".
The break consists of Ryan Mullen (Bora-Hansgrohe), Fabio Felline (Astana-Qazaqstan), David Gaudu, Olivier Le Gac, Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ), Julien Bernard, Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Morkov (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Ivan Garcia Cortina, Gregor Muhlberger, Albert Torres (Movistar), Cees Bol, Nico Denz (Team DSM), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Simon Carr, Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost), Franck Bonnamour, Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels-KTM).
David Gaudu, who features in the breakaway, was captured before the stage perhaps thinking about his tactics for the day.
Pensif @DavidGaudu ? 😉Thoughtful @DavidGaudu? 😉#ParisNice pic.twitter.com/00613p5ULSMarch 12, 2022
The best-placed rider overall in the breakaway is Franck Bonnamour. (21st, +5'17'') He remains in the yellow jersey, with an advantage of 39 seconds over Simon Yates. The virtual podium is completed by Pierre Latour, a further two seconds behind Yates.
The peloton, controlled predominantly by Ineos-Grenadiers and Arkea-Samsic, are keeping the breakaway to heel, only allowing them an advantage of 1'30".
The peloton will soon be approaching the first climb of the day- the category 2 Côte de Coursegoules. It is an 8.1km climb at an average gradient of 4.9% but the road begins to rise long before the start of the categorised section.
In this exceptionally attritional Paris-Nice, seven more riders are non-starters this morning: Max Walscheid (Cofidis), Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ), Anthony Turgis, Geoffrey Soupe (TotalEnergies), Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana-Qazaqstan), Dimitri Claeys (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Kevin Geniets (Groupama-FDJ). Mike Teunissen has also abandoned during the stage. Only 102 riders remain in the peloton, from an original start list of 154.
As the road begins to rise towards the Côte de Coursegoules, Alexis Vuillermoz has already been distanced from the peloton.
A stray gust of wind before the stage knocked over one of the sponsor's boards into an unlucky Kevin Geniets as he made his way to the start line.
Kevin Geniets had to abandon from #ParisNice. This happened just before the start of Paris-Nice stage 7 😳😣 @GenietsKevin. pic.twitter.com/xmmUp1yZqVMarch 12, 2022
At the front of the race, meanwhile, Quentin Pacher has attacked as the breakaway begin to ascend the Côte de Coursegoules. He has opened up a small gap.
The Côte de Coursegoules is one of two categorised climbs on the route today. The second is the Col de Turini- a 14.9km climb at 7.3%. As the only summit finish in the race, it is likely that the general classification will be decided there.
Pacher built up a lead of ten seconds on his solo escapade but has now been caught by his breakaway companions.
The gap between the breakaway and the peloton remains stable at 1'40" as both groups are now on the Côte de Coursegoules.
Although Paris-Nice is known as the 'Race to the Sun', freezing temperatures will greet the riders at the top of the Col de Turini and snow has been forecast. "I still love snow, for sure, but just not when I’m riding the bike," said Roglič when asked about today's finish.
After struggling earlier, Vuillermoz has abandoned the race.
Despite the misfortune that befell their teammate Geniets earlier, Groupama-FDJ are well represented in this breakaway with three riders- David Gaudu, Olivier Le Gac and Quentin Pacher.
David GauduQuentin PacherOlivier Le GacTrois coureurs dans l'échappée ! pic.twitter.com/t887zYm9uwMarch 12, 2022
The race is just two kilometres away from the summit of the Côte de Coursegoules, and the gap between breakaway and peloton has increased slightly to 1'50".
At the summit, Nico Denz (Team DSM) takes the maximum five points on offer in the King of Mountains competition. Pacher takes three points, Ryan Mullen (Bora-Hansgrohë) two, and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R Citroën Team) one. The peloton crest the summit nearly two minutes later.
The day's first intermediate sprint immediately followed the summit and Mads Pedersen took the maximum three points and three bonus seconds here. He was followed by his teammate Julien Bernard who collects two points, and Michael Mørkøv who collects one.
That freak crash forced Geniets to abandon with an ankle injury. You can read the latest news about him here.
The young Eritrean Biniam Girmay, who finished fourth yesterday, has also abandoned the race.
On the descent, the peloton has chipped away at the breakaway's advantage. It now lies at 1'30".
The gap is falling fast now as the road begins to flatten out again; only a minute separate the breakaway and the peloton.
Florian Sénéchal abandons bringing the total number of riders still in the race to under 100. Over a third of the peloton have been hit by injury or illness and forced to abandon so far.
The peloton is maintaining a steady pace, and the breakaway's advantage remains slightly more than a minute.
Splits are appearing in the peloton due to the high pace, and Wout van Aert, Joao Almeida and Brandon McNulty are among those distanced.
There are three former Paris-Nice stage winners in the breakaway today. Mads Pedersen won Stage 3 earlier this week, while Ivan Garcia Cortina was victorious in Stage 3 of the 2020 edition. Thomas De Gendt has won two stages of Paris-Nice in 2011 and 2012.
Van Aert, McNulty and Almeida have rejoined the peloton, while the gap from the peloton to the front of the race is now just 50 seconds.
With the breakaway still only 50 seconds up the road, it seems likely that the stage win will be contested among the general classification contenders. Team BikeExchange are protecting Simon Yates who sits in second place overall, 39 seconds behind Roglič.
#ParisNice 🇫🇷60km remains and the breakaway has been kept on a tight leash all day, their advantage is just 50 seconds ⏱Our boys have been looking after @SimonYatess back in the peloton as the race heads towards the summit finish! pic.twitter.com/KqJLkU82fEMarch 12, 2022
Stefan de Bod is the latest rider to abandon. His team, Astana, have just two riders left in the race.
In 30 kilometres the riders will tackle the fearsome slopes of the Col de Turini. It has featured twice as a summit finish in Paris-Nice, proving decisive in the 2019 edition when Egan Bernal secured overall victory. It is best known for its role in the Monte Carlo Rally, and the rigorous examination that drivers must pass on it applies for cyclists too for it is full of hairpin turns, and is exceptionally narrow.
As the race enters the final 50 kilometres, the breakaway's advantage has increased slightly to 1'20". Ineos-Grenadiers remain at the head of the peloton, controlling the time gap.
Although the road is not climbing upwards, the riders are very much in the hills. They are flanked by steep rocky cliffs and the roads are narrow and winding.
Today's ferocious pace may have something to do with the number of abandons during the stage; the riders have averaged 41.7km/hr so far.
Live pictures of the race have begun. The breakaway's lead has since fallen to 1'05".
🏁 50km1️⃣8️⃣🚴🏻♂️ < 1’17’’ < 🚴🏻♂️🚴🏻♂️🚴🏻♂️🚴🏻♂️🚗#ParisNice pic.twitter.com/yIrvrUcFfjMarch 12, 2022
Arkea-Samsic now move to the front of the peloton, as the riders begin the false flat that signals the approach of the Col de Turini.
Stage 6 winner Mathieu Burgaudeau sits at the back of the peloton, recovering after his remarkable exploits yesterday.
Luke Rowe looks determined as he sets the pace at the front of the peloton. Ineos seem to be following an aggressive strategy today for Adam Yates who is currently sixth place overall at 1'11".
David Gaudu is one of the first from the breakaway to be caught by the peloton, as he still seeks to fine-tune his form.
Mads Pedersen is caught by the peloton too, as they edge ever closer to the front of the race. What remains of the breakaway is a minute up the road.
Wout van Aert wobbles as he rides over a pothole, and his green jersey briefly flits sideways out of the Jumbo-Visma train, but he remains upright.
Cees Bol is caught by the peloton, and abandons shortly afterwards.
The breakaway is disintegrating on the false flats before the Col de Turini. Mørkøv and Mullen are dropped too.
Although it is shedding riders rapidly, the breakaway is still 1'14" ahead of the peloton.
As he is caught by the peloton, Mørkøv gestures towards Luke Rowe who grins in response. Mørkøv slides down the group, and will look to ride his own pace now to finish the stage.
Amador and Rowe peel off the front, their job done for the day, as the riders hit the bottom of the Col de Turini. Dylan Van Baarle replaces them at the front of the peloton.
With every corner, the peloton becomes a little smaller, even just a kilometre into the climb. Jumbo-Visma still have strength in numbers to help Roglič defend his yellow jersey.
Roglič will be without van Aert, however, who is unable to live with the pace and has been dropped from the peloton.
Omar Fraille is riding on the front for his new team, Ineos-Grenadiers. The gap between the peloton and now four-man breakaway, comprised of Bonnamour, Pacher, De Gendt and Mühlberger, is 43 seconds.
De Gendt is dropped from the breakaway while, behind him Jumbo-Visma control the peloton.
Mühlberger attacks the remnants of the breakaway and sets off strongly in pursuit of a stage win. He is 40 seconds ahead of the main field.
Nicolas Edet grimaces with the effort of increasing the pace, as he moves to the front of the peloton for Nairo Quintana. His acceleration is shortlived and Rohan Dennis moves to restore a steady rhythm for Jumbo-Visma and Roglič.
Matteo Jorgensen, currently the white jersey, is beginning to lose touch with the back of the peloton.
Pierre Latour too is fighting to stay with the overall favourites. At the moment he is third overall, 41 seconds behind Roglič.
At the front of the group, Adam Yates has attacked and opens up a gap.
Yates is countered by Quintana and Roglič; Martínez marks the counter-attack.
Roglič bridges up to Yates; immediately Martínez attacks but is unable to break free of the group. Now Roglič attacks, flying past Muhlburger.
Only Martínez can follow the yellow jersey. Quintana and Adam Yates are distanced, and joined by Simon Yates too.
Roglič and Martínez have opened up a 14 second gap over the chasers. Before the stage, Martínez was fourth overall, 56 seconds behind the yellow jersey.
Adam Yates falls away from his twin brother's wheel, as Simon Yates and Quintana ride up to the leading pair of Martínez and Roglič.
Yates and Quintana are making ground, they trail by just seven seconds now.
Roglič continues to set the pace at the front of the race. Martínez remains glued to his wheel, with Yates and Quintana a further five seconds behind.
A larger third group has formed behind the front of the race but there are no time gaps as yet to it.
There are piles of snow strewn across the verges, and as the road climbs higher, Yates and Quintana bridge across to the front of the race.
With the junction made, the pace subsides for a while until Roglič decides to accelerate from the front.
Simon Yates attacks and Roglič jumps on his wheel immediately. Quintana begins to lose contact with the group.
Quintana makes his way back to the front of the race due to the pace slowing. Yates attacks again.
Quintana sits on the front of the group under the flamme rouge. Martínez attacks but cannot distance Yates and Roglič. Quintana is distanced once more.
Almeida has appeared from nowhere to join the front group too, and contest the stage win.
Yates chooses the wheel of Roglič as the tactics begin for the sprint.
Roglič jumps clear of the group with ease, and wins Stage 7 of Paris Nice!
Martínez finishes second, and Simon Yates in third.
With that stage win, Roglič tightens his grip on the yellow jersey. He now leads Simon Yates by 47 seconds. Martínez moves up to third overall, a minute behind, and Adam Yates jumps two places to fourth at 1'50".
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma 04:02:47
2 Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers
3 Simon Yates (GBr) BikeExchange-Jayco 00:00:02
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic 00:00:09
5 João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:11
6 Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:25
7 Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious 00:00:27
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 00:00:29
9 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 00:00:44
10 Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious 00:00:56
General classification after stage 7
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma 26:26:11
2 Simon Yates (GBr) BikeExchange-Jayco 00:00:47
3 Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 00:01:00
4 Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 00:01:50
5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic 00:02:04
6 Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious 00:02:12
7 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:02:22
8 Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies 00:02:56
9 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Cofidis 00:03:13
10 João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates 00:03:29
In the end, Roglič's trademark powerful sprint was too strong for anyone else to threaten him for the stage win.
“It’s nice to win on your local climb,” Roglič said after winning in front of his wife and son. “I had the legs today so it was a great day. With the years, you put a lot of training and sacrifice into it, it’s really not out of nothing. When you can finish it off, it is really something great.”
Despite his victory today, Roglič is wary of making predictions ahead of the last stage tomorrow. “We saw last year [what can happen on the last day] so it will be super demanding,” he said.
"It was a hard stage," Roglič said. "From the very start it was all the time high pace. In the end I had the legs, obviously. It went good, quite fast. I had luckily the legs and I could follow them - and sprint for the victory."
Looking ahead to the final, decisive stage of Paris-Nice, Roglič stressed how difficult the day will be. "Tomorrow probably it looks like the weather will not be the best. I know the stage, it's on my local roads, but it will be very demanding.There will be worries when you hit it because it's 1km (straight up). When we are there it should be OK but before this, it's a lot of up and down all the time."
João Almeida finished the day in fifth place, 11 seconds behind Roglič.
"It was a whole day up and down," he said after the race. "The bunch is quite small so you're either on the front or back, there is not so long the bunch. In the last climb I just did my efforts. I could manage a good effort and I ended up in the front and I'm really happy with the result.
"We didn't start the race feeling good but we're starting to come back. Of course the jersey is something and we're happy with it. If we keep things like they are now, I'll be happy. No pressures."
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