Paris-Nice: Betancur wins Overall as Costa Crashes

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Stage win for French champion Arthur Vichot while Rui Costa crashes and the overall goes to Carlos Betencur

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Paris-Nice: Betancur wins Overall as Costa Crashes

Betancur conquers Paris-Nice for Colombia

Carlos Betancur (ALM) became the first Colombian to win Paris-Nice after the final stage around Nice won by French champion Arthur Vichot on Sunday.

A quarter of a century after Luis Herrera’s victories in the Vuelta and the Dauphine, the 24-year-old AG2R leader handed his country another major stage race and a major achievement for his team AG2R, the first French outfit to win the Race to the Sun in 23 years.

2014_VichotWInsParisNiceFinalStage

On the short but hectic 128-km 8th and final stage around Nice, Betancur’s team-mates managed to control the many attacks of the day, leaving Vichot to battle it out in the final stretch with Spain’s Jose Joaquin Rojas.

Thanks to his stage win, Vichot made it on the podium behind world champion Rui Costa, who finished a frustrating Paris-Nice on the tarmac after crashing in the last 200 metres. The Portuguese still finished second overall, 14 seconds behind Betancur.

17 in the lead
Giant Shimano made sure no break took place before the first intermediate sprint in Plan d Var (km 19), which John Degenkolb won to strengthen his green jersey by three points. After 24 kilometres, a group of 17 riders broke clear: Zandio (SKY), Von Hoff (GRS), Van AVermaet (BMC), Pineau (IAM), Keukeleire (OGE), Favilli (LAM), Gavazzi (AST), Hofland (BEL), Busche and Hondo (TFR), Cousin (EUC), Ervitti (MOV), Kristoff (KAT), Coppel (COF), Koch, Marcato (both CAN) and Delaplace (BSE).

The group, who held a maximum lead of 2:40 (km 64), lost Moreno Hofland after Cote de Chateauneuf as 15 riders abandoned – including Tom Boonen and Thomas Voeckler – and joined the five non starters of the day on the way out.

Battle on Cote de Peille
While the first three climbs of the day did not make significant difference, the big battle started for good in Cote de Peille, when the leading group split, while several riders, including green jersey holder John Degenkolb (GIA) and polka-dot jersey holder Pim Ligthart (LTB) could not keep up with the peloton.

One kilometre from the summit, Vincenzo Nibali (AST) attacked with team-mate Fancesco Gavazzi, Simon Spilak (KAT) and Wilco Kalderman (BEL), to catch the five riders left from the early break: Busche, Coppel, Cousin, Zandio and Van Avermaet. But Carlos Betancur’s AG2R team-mates worked perfectly to bring the bunch back early in the descent.

Vichot jumps to the line
Three men took advantage of the downhill to surge. Yury Trofimov (KAT), Luis Mate (COF) and Jerome Cousin (EUC) moved but the Russian was the strongest and found himself on his own with 30 kms to go, hunted down by Movistar and AG2R riders, who caught him at the foot of Col d’Eze (km 109).

Among the riders to try their luck on the famous climb were successively George Bennett (CAN), David Lopez Garcia (SKY) and finally Frank Shleck (TFR), who reached the top in the lead.

On the descent towards Nice, the Luxembourg rider joined forces with Simon Spilak (KAT). The two still held the bunch at bay until the red flame when the sprint for stage honours started. A crash involved several riders and sent Rui Costa down on the tarmac, where the world champion lay for a few minutes before crossing the line unhurt.

In the meantime, Vichot had jumped to outpace Rojas and France’s Cyril Gauthier (EUC). Carlos Betancur was 8th, more than enough to crown a superb week on the roads of France with his fist major victory. The Colombian will certainly be a man to watch in his first Tour de France after this revelation in Nice, which will host another Tour de France in July, the sailing one.

Carlos Betancur: “A great honour”
“It’s a great honour to win such a great race and to show that Colombian cycling is back” Betancur said afterwards. “I was very proud with my 5th place in the Giro d’Italia but this is greater. It’s more important to win such a great race ahead of so many great riders. It also shows what a strong team AG2R is.”

“Last year I started my season in the Tour of Catalunya. This time I started earlier and it’s really a morale booster before the classics. The rest of my program of the season will climax with the Tour de France in which I will have real ambitions.”

AG2R manager Vincent Lavenu was really moved by this first victory in the Race to the Sun by a French team in 23 years: “23 years is also when our team was created. In the meantime we won the Dauphine twice, we finished third and second here but never managed to win Paris-Nice.”

“It’s extremely gratifying to win one of the greatest stage races on the calendar. It also shows that we really have an international calibre. Originally we had planned to field Jean-Christophe Peraud on Paris-Nice but when we realised there was no time trial, we decided to opt for Carlos, who would have lost time in a timed effort. He is only at the beginning of a great career and has the talent to one day win a Grand Tour.”

Stage win Vichot
“It’s the first time I win with the tricolore jersey on. It was the queen stage of Paris-Nice, it’s just great. The profile of this Paris-Nice favoring riders of my calibre made me the team leader for once. To finish on the podium after such a great stage it’s just great”.

“Now I’m going to concentrate on the classics and as early as next weekend on Milan-San Remo even though the course has changed and suits the sprinters better. I’ve not turned into a stage race specialist. Other stages races include time trials and mountains and are too hard for me. But I hope to be in the same form for the Ardennes classics which I like very much.”

STAGE 8
1 VICHOT Arthur FDJ.fr 03:06:56
2 ROJAS José Joaquin Movistar Team
3 GAUTIER Cyril Team Europcar
4 CARUSO Damiano Cannondale
5 KELDERMAN Wilco Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
6 SCHLECK Fränk Trek Factory Racing
7 SLAGTER Tom-Jelte Garmin Sharp
8 BETANCUR Carlos AG2R La Mondiale
9 BENNETT George Cannondale
10 SEP̼LVEDA Eduardo Bretagne РS̩ch̩ Environnement

22 YATES Simon Orica GreenEDGE
23 STYBAR Zdenek Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 01:08
26 NIBALI Vincenzo Astana Pro Team
38 CHAVANEL Sylvain IAM Cycling 1.17
43 COSTA Rui Lampre – Merida
65 SCHLECK Andy Trek Factory Racing 7.32

DNF VOECKLER Thomas Team Europcar
DNF FARRAR Tyler Garmin Sharp
DNF PHINNEY Taylor BMC Racing Team
DNS CUMMINGS Stephen BMC Racing Team
DNS THOMAS Geraint Team Sky
Final Overall
1 BETANCUR Carlos AG2R La Mondiale 35:11:45
2 COSTA Rui Lampre – Merida 00:14
3 VICHOT Arthur FDJ.fr 00:20
4 ROJAS José Joaquin Movistar Team 00:21
5 FUGLSANG Jakob Astana Pro Team 00:29
6 GAUTIER Cyril Team Europcar 00:31
7 DENIFL Stefan IAM Cycling 00:35
8 SPILAK Simon Team Katusha 00:36
9 VELITS Peter BMC Racing Team 00:39
10 GALLOPIN Tony Lotto Belisol 00:41

15 STYBAR Zdenek Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 01:33
16 SLAGTER Tom-Jelte Garmin Sharp 01:37
21 NIBALI Vincenzo Astana Pro Team 02:17
34 SCHLECK Fränk Trek Factory Racing 05:38
35 CHAVANEL Sylvain IAM Cycling 07:37
44 YATES Simon Orica GreenEDGE 17:33
66 SCHLECK Andy Trek Factory Racing

 


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