A stage for the attackers at Paris-Nice
Mantes-la-Ville, a small town in the Yvelines department, located some 50 kilometers from the country’s capital, welcomed the bunch for the start of the 80th edition, which got underway Sunday afternoon with a 159.8km stage that on paper should have belonged to the sprinters, but witnessed a completely different scenario four hours later.
The day’s main difficulty was always going to be Côte de Breuil Bois Robert, a 1.2km climb averaging 6% which awaited the riders inside the final ten kilometers. Before reaching its bottom, two breakaway groups animated the stage, both being caught thanks the effort of a coalition of teams, including Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, whose Iljo Keisse did again a top job.
When the pace intensified on the final hill of the stage, the likes of Fabio Jakobsen and Zdenek Stybar were in a good position as the group was thinning out with every meter ticked off. The latter responded to a sudden acceleration that came 700 meters from the top and managed to remain with the small group that rode clear from the peloton until close to the top of the hill. While at the front Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) claimed the victory, what was left of the peloton arrived some 20-odd seconds later, and Florian Sénéchal sprinted to his second top 10 of the season, after last weekend’s ninth place in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen / Getty Images