Team News – Swifty second at Paris-Nice


Ben Swift sprinted to a close second place while Geraint Thomas moved up to fifth overall on a memorable stage 1 at Paris-Nice

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Team News – Swifty second at Paris-Nice


Ben Swift sprinted to a close second place while Geraint Thomas moved up to fifth overall following a memorable day at Paris-Nice. An action-packed stage one saw the peloton blown apart on exposed roads and tested to their limits by sectors of gravel during a tricky finishing circuit around Vendome.

With the line in sight Swift launched an opportunistic early sprint to come within touching distance of victory. The Yorkshireman was just edged out by Arnaud Demare (FDJ) but was able to hold off Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) in the bike throw for second. Swift had taken turns on the front heading into the final kilometres as part of a rousing team performance to help further the GC ambitions of Geraint Thomas.

The Welshman (who crossed the line in 10th) was kept safe and upfront on a hectic 198km jaunt and moved up to fifth overall, eight seconds behind continued race leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge). On a chilly day which brought periods of snow Team Sky sat tucked in the bunch, yet with 45km to go they surged forward en masse. Nicolas Roche and Luke Rowe hit the front and quickly the peloton split in the crosswinds.

Six of the team’s eight riders were present in the front split, with the gap sitting at around a minute at one point. Swift and Ian Stannard further added to the firepower, while Sergio Henao held a strong position in reserve.

That effort continued onto the tricky gravel roads, with Classics men Rowe and Stannard in their element as they strung out the bunch. At the late intermediate sprint Thomas finished on the wheel of Matthews in second, elevating himself up the standings and keeping the GC battle tight.


Luke Rowe relishing Paris-Nice battle
After dishing out some punishment on the front of the bunch caught up with Luke Rowe and asked him whether it was possible to enjoy such a hard stage.

“I think it’s a bit of a love/hate relationship with something like that. Sometimes you hate it when you’re out there but looking back it was good fun,” said the Welshman. “I think there was a bit of everything today. We had probably a good half-hour to an hour of full-on snow. It was starting to settle on the ride of the road. We were a bit worried that the race might have to get stopped but then it cleared up and the race began.”

On the Team Sky attack that helped split the race he added: “It was something we decided before the race even started – that we were going to try and commit at that point. It was always going to be quite a big fight going into those gravel sections, so if we could narrow the peloton down it would make our lives easier. We definitely gave it a go and went for it.

“The gravel sections weren’t actually too bad. The race organisers had filled in all the potholes and craters. It was quite messy and a bit of crosswind on them – but in terms of the roughness and the dangerousness of them they weren’t too bad at all. There were a few punctures which is to be expected but I don’t think there were any crashes and there were no massive splits on the sections.

“On a personal note I feel good. It’s an important part of the season for myself and a few of the guys here. I think I’m where I need to be and I’m looking forward to a good week of solid racing. G is in really good form so we’ll do our best to give everything for him. Let’s see where he is in a week’s time.”

1. Arnaud Demare, DFJ
2. Ben Swift, Sky
3. Nacer Bouhanni, Cofidis

10. Geraint Thomas, Sky
12. Richie Porte, BMC
24. Dan McLay, Fortuneo Vital Concept
35. Simon Yates, Orica
54. Ian Stannard, Sky
88. Marcel Kittel, Etixx
93. Luke Rowe, Sky




Send your results as well as club, team & event news here

Other Results on VeloUK (including reports containing results)

Other News on VeloUK