Demare wins Paris-Nice opener as favourites stumbleArchive
BOIS D’ARCY (France): Frenchman Arnaud Demare outsprinted compatriot Julian Alaphilippe to win a wet and windy opening stage of the week-long Paris-Nice race on Sunday.
But it was a poor day for some of the overall contenders including Australia’s Richie Porte.
He, Spain’s Alberto Contador and Romain Bardet of France were all caught out by a split in the peloton caused by strong winds just 40km into the race.
They were forced to chase for more than 100km and eventually came in around a minute behind the winner.
Norway’s Alexander Kristoff took third on the 148.5km stage around the west Parisian suburbs.
“That was a crazy race! I really enjoyed the splits in the peloton,” enthused Demare. “I didn’t think a breakaway would form so soon... but there was the element of surprise. At the finish, everyone was spent.”
Ireland’s Dan Martin, Frenchman Tony Gallopin and Team Sky’s Colombian climber Sergio Henao, all possible overall contenders, lost only nine seconds to Demare and gained significant time on the other title hopefuls.
Porte, the champion in 2013 and 2015, and Bardet, who crashed during the stage, came in 47 seconds down while Contador, winner in 2007 and 2010, lost over a minute.
Demare had also won the opening stage last year, shortly before going on to win the first high-profile ‘Monument’ one-day classic of the season, Milan-Sanremo.
Monday’s second stage of the ‘Race to the Sun’ covers 195km from Rochefort-en-Yvelines to Amilly.
Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2017