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Paris-Tours 2019 - Live coverage

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The peloton is navigating the neutralised zone in the hinterland of Chartres. They should reach kilometre zero at noon local time, though it will be rather longer before they are out of sight of the spires of the remarkable Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, which dominates the skyline in the Eure-et-Loir.

As ever, the main difficulties on the route are packed into the final 50km or so. There are seven short climbs, starting with the Côte de Goguenne and finishing with the Côte de Rochecorbon, which comes 10.5km from home. And, like last year, there is also a smattering of off-road racing on the chemins de vignes - the vineyard tracks - on the final approach towards Tours. This year, there are nine sectors for a total of 10.7km off-road. The first sector comes with 53km to go, while the last is positioned just before the day's final climb.

An early abandon as Nicolas Dalla Valle (UAE Team Emirates) pulls out in the neutralised zone. The team had the bare minimum of five starters, with Rory Sutherland compelled to travel from Il Lombardia to France last night to help make up the numbers, as Stephen Farrand reports.

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-197km

South African rider Morne van Niekerk of St Michel-Auber93 is attempting to bridge across alone to the three leaders.

After the Sunweb-led peloton reels in Van Niekerk, Sergio Rodriguez (Euskadi-Murias) takes a flyer in a bid to make it across to Dowswett et al. 

-194km

This is Euskadi-Murias' final race before the team ceases operations, and Rodriguez wrote a blog post earlier this week expressing concern that Paris-Tours might also be his final race as a professional and highlighting the difficulties domestiques have in securing work after sacrificing their own ambitions in the service of others.

Rodriguez is brought back by the bunch, and he has also served as a hare for the peloton, who have closed to within 10 seconds of Dowsett, Stokbro and De Vos.

Meanwhile, there have been two crashes in the frantic opening to this race. Damien Gaudin (Total-Direct Energie) went down in the first, while more went down in the second, including Piet Allegaert (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), who has abandoned the race.

-189km

Three become two. Alex Dowsett sits up at the head of the race, leaving Andreas Stokbro (Riwal Readynez Cycling Team) and Adam De Vos (Rally-UHC) out in front.

The peloton now seems content to allow this break its freedom. Stockbro and De Vos stretch their lead out beyond a minute as Dowsett is caught by the bunch.

Stokbro and De Vos have 1:30 in hand on the peloton, but a counter-attack of four riders is attempting to bridge across: Kenny Molly (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Tony Hurel (St. Michel-Auber93), Tom Dernies (Natura4Ever - Roubaix Lille Métropole) and Samuel Leroux (Natura4Ever - Roubaix Lille Métropole).

-175km

Mathijs Paasschens (Wallonie-Bruxelles) is also trying to forge across to the break and it seems that he is succeeding in his endeavour.

Situation

An indication of the wind direction in the early part of the race: the break has covered 36.5km in the first hour of racing.

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As the break's lead nudges out towards 4 minutes, Groupama-FDJ take up the reins in the peloton on behalf of Arnaud Démare. The Frenchman was a stage winner on the Giro d’Italia and has claimed five wins in total this year but told L’Équipe he was disappointed with his campaign. “I’m not going to hide, I expected more from this season,” Démare said. “Frankly, it’s average.” Démare missed the Tour de France this year as Groupama-FDJ built a squad entirely around Thibaut Pinot but suggested he was minded to return next year.

After briefly stretching out past 4 minutes, the break's lead has been clipped back once again to 3:20.

-165km

Situation

Bauke Mollema claimed victory at Il Lombardia yesterday with a fine solo attack. "This feels like a reward for my whole career," he said afterwards, and Stephen Farrand has the full story here.

-143km

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) was among the favourites for Il Lombardia yesterday, but the Slovenian was one of many caught in the impasse that developed after Bauke Mollema's solo attack. He finished the race in 7th place and lamented the man-to-man marking in the chase group. "As the saying goes: If two dogs fight for a bone, a third gets to take it away. The big guys kept looking at me but Bauke was the best and won it well," Roglic said. Stephen Farrand has the full story here.

-135km

A crash in the peloton sees Rory Sutherland (UAE Team Emirates) among the fallers, but the Australian remounts and rejoins the fray.

-115km

Rory Sutherland and Kris Boeckmans (Vital Concept) have abandoned the race. Meanwhile, there is an injection of pace in the peloton and the gap to the break is dropping rapidly.

-108km

Nils Eekhoff (Sunweb), cruelly denied the under-23 world title when he was disqualified over an hour after the race, was among the fallers, together with Stan Dewulf (Belgium), who was also prominent in that gripping race in Yorkshire two weeks ago.

-105km

The peloton has fragmented into three distinct groups, with Sunweb, Lotto Soudal, Total Direct Energie and Delko Marseille Provence forcing the pace at the front. The second group on the road is 25 seconds down.

A pivotal moment in the race as Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Jens Debusschere (Katusha-Alpecin) have been jettisoned by the front group. Arnaud Demare is safely in this front group and Groupama-FDJ continue to contribute to the forcing.

This is brutal fare. The front group has now fragmented into three parts. Demare and Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) are in the first echelon of 30 riders, with Niki Terpstra (Total-Direct Energie) and Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept) also aboard. The next echelon is 15 seconds back.

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Oliver Naesen comes through and takes a long turn at the head of the race. The front group contains plenty of strong men who, for now at least, seem willing to ride as allies of circumstance.

-77km

Julien Vermote and Lars Bak are in the front group for Dimension Data. Cavendish, meanwhile, drops towards the rear of the second group, which is continuing to lose ground. 1:24 the gap.

Defending champion Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) has lost contract with the front of the race and dropped back into the second group, which is 1:30 down on the leaders.

Jelle Wallays and Nikolas Maes set the tempo in the front group for Lotto Soudal, and the lead yawns out still further to 1:33.

-70km

Correction, that was Soren Kragh Andersen's brother Asbjorn Kragh Andersen who was distanced from the front group about 10km to go. Soren Kragh is emphatically in this group. Indeed, the 2018 winner has gone on the attack...

-67.5

Kragh Andersen and Van Poppel have 20 seconds in hand on the front peloton and 1:30 on the third group on the road. 

Groupama-FDJ lead the pursuit of Van Poppel and Soren Kragh Andersen, though it appears that the Dane has been ordered by his Sunweb team to stop contributing turns.

Van Poppel is mildly exasperated but he continues to ride on the front as the duo head towards Amboise and the crossing of the Loire. They have 27 seconds on the chasers and 1:20 on the peloton.

-63km

The situation looked irretrievable for the riders dropped in the crosswinds with 90km or so to go, but it now looks as though there will be an enlarged peloton for the final part of the race. 

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Van Poppel and Andersen are 5km from the day's first climb, the Côte Goguenne, which is followed by the first 1500m-long Chemin de Vigne sector.

-57km

There is considerable jockeying for position in the peloton on the fast run-in to the first climb and off-road sector of the day. Groupama-FDJ and Lotto Soudal are prominent.

-54km

-53km

Groupama-FDJ accelerate into the climb a minute further back. They will seek to whittle down the peloton ahead of the dirt road over the summit.

Soren Kragh Andersen is onto the Chemin de Vigne de la Grosse Pierre, the first of 9 dirt road sectors this afternoon. He has 58 seconds in hand on the peloton.

Van Poppel is brought back by the FDJ-led peloton at the cusp of the first direct sector. They are on the front in numbers for Demare and Kung, and are seeking o string out the peloton on this 1500m-long sector.

Plumes of dust rise as the reduced peloton navigates the gravel road. A crash in the peloton sees a Vital Concept rider go down, but he is quickly on his feet.

-51km

Andersen hurtles onto the second, 500m-long gravel sector with 40 seconds in hand on Wallays and a handful more on the reduced peloton.

Wallys certainly has no intention of waiting for the peloton. The Belgian presses on in lone pursuit of Andersen, but Groupama-FDJ are keeping him in their sights.

-47km

Situation

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A rear wheel puncture for Soren Kragh Andersen, who is passed by Jelle Wallays as he gets a wheel change from neutral service.

Jelle Wallys is alone at the head of the race with Soren Kragh Andersen 15 or so seconds behind him. Niki Terpstra had strung out the peloton on the gravel sector, but the Dutchman suffers a puncture of his own. He gets a quick change and gives chase.

-42km

Soren Kragh Andersen is caught by a group of 20 riders containing Kung and Demare as he comes off the third gravel sector. They are 25 seconds down on the lone leader Wallays.

Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) clips off the front of the Demare group and sets out in lone pursuit of Wallays. 

Situation

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It looks as though Soren Kragh Andersen's challenge is over. The Dane has lost contact with the group of favourites and will surely struggle to get back on.

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-33km

Once again, Groupama-FDJ lead the chasers through the vineyard path Noizay. They come out the other side with a deficit of 1:20 on Wallays. Five sectors of gravel remain.

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Onto the stiff Cote de la Rochere for Wallays, and once he reaches the top, he swings directly into the next gravel sector at Coudraie.

-28km

Gallopin, Demare, Naesen and Stefan Kung are in the front part of a splintered chasing group on the gravel at Coudraie.

Naesen and Kung exchange turns at the front of this small group, mindful that they have distanced men like Bryan Coquard on this combination of climb and gravel.

-25km

Kung stretches out the chasing group of 11 riders with a mammoth turn on the front ahead of the 1500m-long chemin de vigne de la Solidarite.

Cees Bol, Niki Terpstra, Nikolas Maes and Bert De Backer are all in this Kung group, together with Demare and Naesen, but they are about to be absorbed by some of the riders who had been jettisoned on the previous gravel sector. They are 1:18 down on the lone leader Wallays.

-22.5km

Fernando Barcelo marks Euskadi-Murias' final race by counter-attacking from the chase group, but it doesn't seem he will get very far. Lars Bak, meanwhile, is distanced from the chasing group in his final professional race.

-21.5km

Naesen's effort is shredding the chasing group and he has rid it of Stefan Kung, who has suffered a rear wheel puncture. The Swiss elects to ride on the flat tyre in the hope of grabbing a replacement on the far side of the gravel sector.

-20km

Tepstra had suffered a puncture and he has just received a disastrously slow change of disc wheel from the Mavic neutral service bike. That looks to be the end of his challenge.

Groupama-FDJ, riddled by punctures, no longer have the numbers to marshal a chase on Demare's behalf, and this is playing into the hands of Wallays, who still has 1:19 on the chasers.

-18km

-17km

The Gallopin trio is brought back by the unwieldy group of chasers, and Wallays can take advantage of the lack of collaboration behind. He stretches his gap out to 1:27.

-15km

Niki Terpstra has rejoined the chasers ahead of the final gravel sector, which indicates, perhaps, how haphazard their collaboration has been. They are 1:26 down on Wallays.

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There are 20 or so riders in this chasing group, but they are making little or no inroads into Jelle Wallays' lead. Arnaud Demare reaches for a bidon for the roadside but misses the take and shakes his head ruefully. It doesn't look like being his day.

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-10.5km

Arnaud Demare accelerates on the climb and is followed immediately by Naesen and De Backer.

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Niki Terpstra tries to breathe life into the chase, but one senses that riders are beginning to shift their thoughts to racing for podium spots rather than victory.

-7km

Naesen and Demare have joined Barcelo and Bak on the offensive, while Terpstra chases them down. They are still 1:09 off Wallays.

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Wallays is onto the Avenue de Grammont. He looks twice over his shoulder and then begins his celebrations with more than 400 metres still to go.

Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) wins the 2019 Paris-Tours.

Niki Terpstra (Total-Direct Energie) takes second ahead of a tired Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale).

Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) takes 4th just behind Terpstra and Naesen after setting out in lone pursuit of them in the final kilometre.

Lars Bak (Dimension Data) completes his final race as a professional in the top 10, and he punches the air as he crosses the line.

Nikolas Maes played a big role in disrupting the chase behind his Lotto Soudal teammate, and Wallays makes sure to stop and thank his comrade before he makes his way to the podium.

Result

Paris-Tours

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Jelle wallays

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Jelle Wallays on his win: “I wanted to make a little gap with a little group but suddenly I was alone. I got to [Søren Kragh] Andersen but then he got a flat, so I needed to do it alone, but I had a good feeling from the beginning. I was focused on this race and I gave it my all.

Paris-Tours, Paris-Tours

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Thanks for following our live coverage of Paris-Tours on Cyclingnews. A full report, results and photographs are available here.

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