Arnaud Démare of Groupama-FDJ takes his first win of the 2018 season on Stage 1 of Paris-Nice. In a photo finish, the Groupama rider snatched the victory as he went shoulder to shoulder with Gorka Izagirre (UAE). The Frenchman of the newly titled Groupama team begins his Paris-Nice 2018 campaign the same way as he did last year, by pulling on the yellow jersey.
Paris-Nice 2018 Stage One Summary
Stage one of the 76th edition of Paris-Nice, the Race to the Sun, began under heavy rains at Chatou in Yvelines to the North West of Paris, where 154 riders lined-up to compete. At just seven degrees centigrade it undoubtedly felt much colder but there was little wind to consider, unlike yesterday’s brutal proceedings on the white roads of Tuscany.
After 8.9 kilometres of neutralised start, the racing began with plenty attacks from the word go. A couple of failed attempts eventually led to a breakaway formed of three riders: Pierre-luc Perichon (Fortuneo), Pierre Rolland (EF Drapac p/b Cannondale) and Jurgen Roelandts (BMC Racing).
Quickstep Floors put in a lot of work on the front of the bunch in the early stages of the race and were eventually joined by the Groupama-FDJ cohort. Together they managed to keep the gap around the three-minute mark, with it only ever increasing to a maximum of 3’35. They also took the first intermediate sprint points and time bonuses (1. Jurgen Roelandts (BMC), 2. Pierre Rolland (EF/DRAPAC), 3. Pierre-luc Perichon (Fortuneo)).
After 55km of racing, the weather had taken its toll on the leading trio and the gap began to decrease for the first time that day. Over the following 10 kilometres, the leading trio’s advantage was severely cut down to 1’35. Perichon fought hard for the first Mountains Classification win of the race, taking the top points on the first two category three ascents.
A valiant effort from the breakaway saw them maintain daylight between their group and the peloton until just 13 kilometres remained, as they entered the outskirts of Paris. Shortly afterwards, a bit of road furniture caused a crash that involved at least ten riders, but did not include Alexis Vuillermoz of Ag2r. The Frenchman took advantage of the confusion surrounding the crash and attacked on the cobbles of Meudon.
This solo effort was dashed at less than 300m to the line, where the brutal sprint began. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Gorka Izagirre (UAE), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) went shoulder to should on the line but it was the Frenchman of the newly titled team who took the Stage 1 victory. Arnaud Démare begins Paris-Nice 2018 as he did the previous year, wearing the yellow jersey.
Paris-Nice 2018 Stage 1 Results
1 Arnaud DÉMARE (Groupama – FDJ)
2 Gorka IZAGIRRE (Bahrain Merida)
3 Christophe LAPORTE (Cofidis)
4 Tim WELLENS (Lotto Soudal)
5 Mike TEUNISSEN (Team Sunweb)
6 Julian ALAPHILIPPE (Quick-Step Floors)
7 Patrick KONRAD (BORA – hansgrohe) +2″
8 Dylan TEUNS (BMC Racing) +2″
9 Matteo TRENTIN (Mitchelton-Scott) +2″
10 Ion IZAGIRRE (Bahrain Merida) +2″