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Paris-Tours 2019 - Live coverage


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.

Rory Sutherland

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)


There is an early flurry of attacks after the flag drops. Lars Bak, Thibault Guernalec, Mathias Norsgaard, Pier-André Coté, Yoann Paillot and Samuel Leroux open a small gap over the peloton, but they are reeled back in. The pace is brisk, but as yet no definitive break has taken shape.


The peloton turns into a section of headwind, which might curb some of the early attacking.


Alex Dowsett (Katusha-Alpecin), Andreas Stokbro (Riwal Readynez Cycling Team) and Adam De Vos (Rally-UHC) have attacked and opened a gap of 25 seconds over the peloton.


Dowsett, Stokbro and De Vos extend their advantage to 50 seconds, but the peloton has not granted them a day pass just yet. There are plenty of teams who missed this move and who aren't quite ready to give up on it.

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. 


Dowsett, Stokbro and De Vos have 30 seconds in hand on Rodriguez and 45 on the peloton. 

This is Euskadi-Murias' final race before the team ceases operations, and Rodriguez wrote a blog post earlier this week (opens in new tab) 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.


Amid the confusion of the crashes, a number of riders were distanced by the bunch, including Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale), but they seem to be latching back on. Dowsett, Stokbro and De Vos, meanwhile, have clawed out an advantage of 20 seconds once again.

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).


Six riders are now at the head of the race, with a lead of a minute on the peloton: Andreas Stokbro (Riwal Readynez Cycling Team), Adam De Vos (Rally-UHC), Kenny Molly (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Tony Hurel (St. Michel-Auber93), Tom Dernies (Natura4Ever-Roubaix Lille Métropole) and Samuel Leroux (Natura4Ever-Roubaix Lille Métropole).

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



Andreas Stokbro (Riwal Readynez Cycling Team), Adam De Vos (Rally-UHC), Mathijs Paasschens (Wallonie-Bruxelles) Kenny Molly (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Tony Hurel (St. Michel-Auber93), Tom Dernies (Natura4Ever-Roubaix Lille Métropole) and Samuel Leroux (Natura4Ever-Roubaix Lille Métropole)

Peloton at 1:35

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.


Finally, the intensity drops a notch in the peloton and our seven escapees are able to augment their advantage to 2:50.

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.

Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

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


With a little over 100 miles to go, the seven leaders have a gap of 3:10 on the peloton.


Andreas Stokbro (Riwal Readynez Cycling Team), Adam De Vos (Rally-UHC), Mathijs Paasschens (Wallonie-Bruxelles) Kenny Molly (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Tony Hurel (St. Michel-Auber93), Tom Dernies (Natura4Ever-Roubaix Lille Métropole) and Samuel Leroux (Natura4Ever-Roubaix Lille Métropole)

Peloton at 3:15

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.

Il Lombradia

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)


Andreas Stokbro (Riwal Readynez Cycling Team), Adam De Vos (Rally-UHC), Mathijs Paasschens (Wallonie-Bruxelles) Kenny Molly (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Tony Hurel (St. Michel-Auber93), Tom Dernies (Natura4Ever-Roubaix Lille Métropole) and Samuel Leroux (Natura4Ever-Roubaix Lille Métropole) 

Peloton at 3:40

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.

Il Lombardia

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)


The escapees go through La Ville-aux-Clercs with a lead of 2:50 over the peloton.

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


The situation at the feed zone in Vendome is as follows:


Andreas Stokbro (Riwal Readynez Cycling Team), Adam De Vos (Rally-UHC), Mathijs Paasschens (Wallonie-Bruxelles) Kenny Molly (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Tony Hurel (St. Michel-Auber93), Tom Dernies (Natura4Ever-Roubaix Lille Métropole) and Samuel Leroux (Natura4Ever-Roubaix Lille Métropole)

Peloton at 2:30

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.


The sudden upping of the intensity of the peloton, allied to another crash, has forced a split, with 50 or so riders forging clear. This group is now just 30 seconds behind the early escapees.

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.


The seven escapees have been caught by the reduced peloton of 50 riders. There is another, larger group just 15 seconds or so behind them.

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.


The front group of 30 or so riders includes Stefan Kung, Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ), Niki Terpstra (Total-Direct Energie), Oliver Naesen, Clement Venturini (AG2R La Mondiale), Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept-B&B Hotels) and 2018 winner Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb). This group has 40 seconds on the second group on the road and almost a minute on a third group that contains Mark Cavendish.


The second and third groups on the road have merged, but they are 55 seconds down on a high-calibre leading echelon and it will be exceedingly difficult for them to get back in the race.


The 30-strong front group has a lead of 1:07 over the chasers, and their collaboration seems to be relatively smooth. Rally-UHC are attempting to marshal the pursuit behind, but they are losing ground.

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.


Rally-UHC are still doing all of the chasing and their deficit is stretching out in this crosswind section. Terpstra, Andersen, Naesen, Demare, Kung et al now have 1:22 in hand on their pursuers.

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.


Wanty-Groupe Gobert take up the chase effort as the gap stretches out to 1:40. The increase in urgency appears to have caused problems for Mark Cavendish, who has lost contact with the second group in what should be his last outing with Dimension Data.

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...


Boy van Poppel (Roompot-Charles) bridges across to Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb), and this duo has a small lead over the front echelon. 1:30 the gap to the chasing peloton.

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.


Van Poppel glances over his shoulder intermittently but Kragh Andersen isn't budging. No matter, they have 35 seconds on the Groupama-FDJ-led second group and 1:11 on the third group on the road.

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. 


Kragh Andersen has started taking turns with Van Poppel as they cross the Loire in Amboise. They are currently riding into a block headwind, and this has contributed to the merging of the two groups behind them.


The second and third groups on the road have merged into a larger peloton, which trails Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) and Boy van Poppel (Roompot-Charles) by 50 seconds.

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.


Groupama-FDJ lead the chasing peloton on behalf of Arnaud Demare on the run-in to the first obstacles of the day. They are just under a minute down on Soren Kragh Andersen and Boy van Poppel.

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.



Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) and Boy van Poppel (Roompot-Charles)

Peloton at 1:07


The leading duo hit the Côte Goguenne and immediately Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) accelerates and drops Boy van Poppel.

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.


The peloton is 43 seconds down on Andersen and has been whittled down considerably on that first dirt sector. Jelle Wallays has opened a small gap after the confusion that followed the crash but Groupama-FDJ have matters under control behind him.

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.


Second in 2017 and winner in 2018, Kragh Andersen is something of a Paris-Tours specialist. He is committed to his effort here as he approaches the Cote de Chancay, which is followed by the day's third gravel sector.


Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb)

Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) at 0:30

Peloton at 0:54


Lars Bak (Dimension Data) attacks from the peloton with Angel Tulik (Total-Direct Energie), but Groupama-FDJ aren't giving them much leeway.


Soren Kragh Andersen is over the Cote de Chancay and onto the longest gravel sector, 2.1km in length. He has 21 seconds on Wallays and 40 on a peloton that has reeled in Bak and Tulik.

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.


Wallays has 25 seconds in Soren Kragh Andersen, who is about to be caught by the front end of a fragmenting chasing peloton. Terpstra is a little further back and rattling along the gravel sector in pursuit of the leaders.

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. 


Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal)

Reto Hollenstein (Katusha-Alpecin) at 0:35

Chasing peloton at 0:40

Niki Terpstra (Total-Direct Energie) at 1:15


After a frantic chase, Terpstra is back in contact with the group of favourites. Reto Hollenstein is second on the road, 46 seconds down on the lone leader Wallays.


There are six off-road sectors and five climbs still to go in this finale. Wallays has 50 seconds on Hollenstein and a minute on the (very) reduced peloton. Olivier Le Gac suffers an untimely puncture, and so Groupama-FDJ's strength in numbers has been diminished.

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.


The group of favourites is down to just 25 or so riders, with Arnaud Demare, Stefan Kung, Oliver Naesen and Niki Terpstrra all aboard, a little over a minute down on Wallays.


Groupama-FDJ power the group of favourites and they have reeled in Hollenstein. Wallays, however, still has 1:14 in hand as he clatters onto the 4th gravel sector of Noizay.

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.


Ramon Sinkeldam (Groupama-FDJ) piles on the pressure in the chasing group, but Wallays is sticking gamely to his task, and the Belgian holds a lead of 1:15 as he hits the 1.2km sector at Epinettes.


Four Groupama-FDJ riders sit at the head of the chasing group, which is deterring any attacks, but they are not making any real inroads into the buffer of Wallays, who still has 1:25 as he exits the vineyard track at Epinettes.

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.


Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) accelerates on the climb and this has fragmented the chasing group, with a number of riders distanced. Demare and Oliver Naesen sit on his wheel.

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.


Wallays has 1:09 in hand on a group that includes Demare, Naesen, Kung and Gallopin with three gravel sectors and three climbs to go.

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.


Wallays tackles the Cote de la Vallee Chartier, which leads onto the penultimate gravel sector of Peu Morier. He still has 1:11 in hand on the chasers. 

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.


Wallys is still looking smooth on this penultimate gravel sector, and he still has 1:17 in hand on the chasers, who are now being led by Naesen.

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.


Wallays enters the final 20km with 1:14 on a group of a dozen or so riders, including Oliver Naesen and Arnaud Demare. Niki Terpstra is flitting off the back of the group but he is just about in contact.

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.


It's a very fragmented chasing group, and Tony Gallopin opts to attack in the company of Julien Vermote (Dimension Data) and set off in pursuit of Wallays.


Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) has a lead of 1:18 on a trio of riders: Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale), Julien Vermote (Dimension Data) and Connor Swift (Arkea-Samsic).

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.


Wallays won Paris-Tours in its old format in 2014, out-sprinting Thomas Voeckler for the win on the Avenue de Grammont. If he can avoid ill fortune on the chemin de vigne de Rochecorbon, a second victory is well within his grasp.

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.


Naesen accelerates in the chase group on this final gravel section, but the Belgian is fast running out of road.


Jelle Wallays is off the last gravel sector with 1:27 in hand on the chasers. Lars Bak, who chased back on, is now leading the chasers across the gravel.


Wallays heads towards the base of the final climb, the Cote de Rochecorbon, still with 1:25 in hand on a chasing group that is now being led by Julien Vermote and Bert De Backer.

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.


Lars Bak rages against the dying of the light by attacking the chasing group ahead of the final climb. He opens a decent gap.


Bak hits the final climb 1:14 down on Wallays, with the chasing group a handful of seconds further back.

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


Demare piles on the pressure on the climb but he can't shake Naesen et al and he can't claw back much of Wallays' buffer, which stands at 1:19.


Wallays is over the other side of the climb with 1:19 in hand on the chasers. He has a flat, wide run-in to Tours and he will fancy his prospects of taking a second Paris-Tours victory.


Five miles left for Wallays, who is betraying some signs of fatigue but is still pedalling with fluidity.

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.


Bak and Barcelo attempt to forge clear of the chasers on the run-in. 1:13 the gap to Wallays.

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


Wallays' lead is down to 1:02, but the momentum has ebbed away from the chasers.


Terpstra and Naesen attack out of the chasing group, but they surely won't make up a minute on Wallays in these final 5km.


Wallays is in the outskirts of Tours. His dossards are flapping loose in the wind and his shoulders are beginning to rock, but his lead remains at 53 seconds over Terpstra and Naesen.


Terpstra and Naesen close to within 50 seconds of Wallays, who looks destined to claim victory.


Terpstra and Naesen aren't getting much closer to Wallays in these closing kilometres, but they look to have established a gap over Demare et al behind.


Into the final kilometre for Jelle Wallays, who will have time to sit up and savour this victory, unlike his tense, two-up sprint with Voeckler five years ago.

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.


1    Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal    5:34:20
2    Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie    0:00:29
3    Oliver Naesen(Bel) AG2R La Mondiale    0:00:30
4    Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ    0:00:36
5    Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise    0:00:49
6    Aime De Gendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert    
7    Lars Bak (Den) Dimension Data    0:00:51
8    Bert De Backer (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel    0:00:53
9    Kevyn Ista (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles    
10    Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data


(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.

“It’s totally different now we have the off-road section. The first time I won was with Thomas Voeckler and that was as part of the early break and with a different wind direction, a tailwind. Today it was completely headwind, so was slow in the beginning but then the wind turned a bit and that made some echelons and that made the race harder.

“I had a difficult season because something always happened. I crashed early in the year and lost three teeth. I had good condition for the Belgian championships but suddenly I didn’t make the selection for the Tour de France. I got sick at the Vuelta so the goal in the end was Paris-Tours, and it was good to end the season like this.”

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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