Paris Nice Time Trial won by Wout Poels

The Paris Nice time trial on Wednesday was won by Wout Poels but Luis Leon Sanchez  did enough in finishing 7th to hold on to the Yellow jersey … 

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Paris Nice Time Trial won by Wout Poels

Team Sky won five of the last six editions of Paris-Nice, and the British outfit showed, with Wout Poels’s victory in Wednesday’s 18.4-km individual time trial in St Etienne that they would still be a force to reckon with in this edition.

Photo: @ParisNice – Poels and Sanchez

But the Dutchman’s brilliant effort in 25:33 was not enough for him to dislodge race leader Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), who finished 7th, limited the damage and retained his yellow and white jersey for 15 seconds. France’s Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step) took third place, both in the stage and in the GC, where he now lies 26 seconds behind Sanchez.

Ignatas Konovalovas (Groupama-FDJ), the first starter, finished in 29:55 and set the first reference time. He was quickly upstaged and the most impressive time by an early rider was clocked by Dylan Van Baarle (Sky) in 26:21, at an average speed of 41.89 kph. The mark lasted for an hour and half despite brave efforts by Thomas De Gendt (26:44), Australia road champion Alex Edmondson (26:42) or Colombia’s Jarlinson Pantano (26:36).
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Dane Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) was fastest at the 8-km intermediate mark but faltered in the descent to finish eight seconds behind Van Baarle.

The changing weather made things even more difficult for riders as the descent was a slippery one but it didn’t hamper the overall performance of Team Sky, which saw David de la Cruz dislodge his team-mate Van Baarle in 26:07 at an average speed of 42.271 kph. Winner of a time-trial in the Ruta del Sol earlier in the season, De La Cruz was narrowly beaten by Simon Yates in 26:06 but Team Sky regained the upper-hand when title-holder Sergio Henao also clocked 26:06 but beat the Briton by fractions of a second.

But the day belonged to another Team Sky rider, former Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Wout Poels, who smashed the times of his rivals as well as the 26-minute mark in 25: 33 at an average speed of 43:20 kph. While the stage victory was out of reach, the contenders for overall victory battled it out to lose as little time as possible and maintain their overall chances. Spain’s hopeful Marc Soler (Movistar) was an excellent second, 11 seconds adrift, while Julian Alaphilippe, winner of last year’s time trial in Mont Brouilly, finished strongly to clinch third place in 25:49.
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Behind the leading trio, Germany’s Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) lost his white jersey to Soler but still finished a remarkable 4th in 25:53. Among the pre-race favourites, Sergio Henao (Team Sky) limited the damage in 10th place, 33 seconds behind his team-mate Poels. Belgium’s Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), 8th today, Briton Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), who ended ninth, and his Colombian team-mate Esteban Chaves are all still in contention. France’s Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale) lost 1:04 on Poels and lost most of his chances for overall victory while Dan Martin (UAE) was also disappointing in 34th place, 1:21 adrift.

Wout Poels (Team Sky): “I saw this morning at the recon that it was a good course for me especially the first part. It was a very good TT for me especially after the bad luck I had yesterday when I had to change by back wheel as Luis Leon Sanchez had gone. I don’t know if 15 seconds is too much, I hope not. We will see in the next coupe of days. We were two leaders at the start and it did not change much because Sergio (Henao) also rode a good TT. It’s probably better to have more leaders tactically. Changing from eight to seven riders makes it more tricky tactically but it’s going to be interesting.”

Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana): In yesterday’s stage, I left a lot of energy and I could feel today that I was paying for my efforts. I know I lost time on this TT but at the start of this Paris-Nice I was not even here with the idea to go for the yellow jersey. So it’s already bonus to keep it for another day. In the team we also have Jakob Fuglsang who lost a bit of time in a crash, and the idea is also to see what he can do in the final weekend. We now have two possibilities and we’re going to play it day by day. Yesterday I was sent a picture of the 2009 Paris-Nice, it was really funny. I changed quite a bit. Nine years of professional cycling went by and I’m glad to see I’m still at that level.





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