News: Paris-Nice Stage 4

Primoz Roglic solos to a stage victory and the leader’s jersey as Tao Geoghegan Hart crashes out of Paris Nice

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News: Paris-Nice Stage 4

Primoz Roglic patiently waited for the finale of the winding and mountainous 4th stage of Paris-Nice in the vineyards of the Beaujolais to surge forward and win his first stage on the Race to the Sun and take the yellow and white jersey away from Swiss rider Stefan Bissegger.

The Jumbo-Visma team leader attacked on the grueling final climb to Chiroubles, to cross the line with a 12 second lead over what was left of the bunch, led by Paris Nice title-holder Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Frenchman Guillaume Martin of Cofidis. The 3,500 metres elevation on the menu was too heavy for stage 3 winner Bissegger whilst British Giro winner Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadier) crashed out of contention.

The two-times Vuelta winner, Roglic, now leads Schachmann by 35 seconds overall, with young American Brandon McNulty (UAE) third 37 seconds adrift.

There were 157 riders started from Chalon-sur-Saone at 11:20. Dane Soren Kragh Andersen (DSM), who suffers from back problems, and Italy’s Samuele Battistella (Astana) did not start. At kilometre 3, Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) launched the day’s breakaway, followed by Anthony Perez (Cofidis), polka-dot jersey holder Fabien Doubey (Total Direct Energie) and Jose Rojas (Movistar). They were quickly joined by Oliver Naesen (Ag2R-Citroen) and Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix). After seven kilometres, the lead of the six reached a minute. The gap increased steadily to reach 5:30 onto the first climb of the day, Cote des Chevres (km 27.6).

Perez was first at the top, ahead of Bernard and Doubey. The result was exactly the same on Col de la Pistole (km 47.1). On Cote de Croix de Montmain (km 63.1) and on the Rock of Solutré (km 84.7) Perez ousted Doubey from the top of the KOM classification. The Frenchman stretched his lead on Mont Brouilly, shortly before Doubey, worn out by his efforts, was dropped by the leading group.

With 50 km to go on Col de Durbize, as Casper Pedersen (DSM) attacked out of the bunch to chase behind the break, the peloton lost several riders. Race leader Stefan Bissegger was also seen struggling on the ascent.

The five escapees only retained a minute’s lead as they tackled Mont Brouilly for the second time. The peloton sped up the climb and dropped yellow jersey holder Bissegger and the sprinters left in the group. On the descent, Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) crashed and the British Giro winner was dropped by the main bunch while the Frenchman managed to make it back.

As the peloton was catching the rest of the breakaway group, Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step), second overall, attacked in turn, quickly joined by 2009 Paris-Nice winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana). On the Col de Durbize, Cavagna was forced to stop because of a mechanical and Sanchez caught Bernard with 5 km to go. The Frenchman was the first to crack and the Spanish champion was also caught when Primoz Roglic surged from the wheel of Pierre Latour and went solo. With only the final ascent to Chiroubles left, the Slovenian increased his lead and showed he was a class above the rest.

Primoz Roglic: I’m definitely happy about the result. Yesterday was a nice one also. I proved to myself that we were working good. I’m super happy we have two wins for the team today. It was a hard day but it was a stage for me definitely. It was beautiful that I had the legs to finish it off. It’s a long way to Nice but we deserve it, we have a strong team and we are optimistic going into the next stages. We’ll see what the result in Nice will be.

Brandon McNulty: “It was a very intense day, quite sharp and steep climbs but I had really good legs. I had problems positioning in the last climb before the sprint. I went relatively too early and I didn’t have the acceleration I needed. I’m happy with my form now. I sure came for the overall and it’s nice to be on track for that for sure. After today, it’s obvious Roglic is in quite good form as well but we will see how the next big days go”.

David Gaudu: The Frenchman’s ambitions in the 2021 edition of Paris-Nice were almost lost on Wednesday, twenty kilometers from the mountain top finish in Chiroubles. After suffering a crash on the Mont Brouilly’s descent with did Tao Geoghegan Hart. the Frenchman quickly got back on his bike and managed to finish in the peloton. “I could not avoid the crash.”

“Tao Geoghegan Hart slipped right in front of me,” said the 24-year-old climber. “We were 4th and 5th in the bunch. I could not avoid him and I hit the ground. That’s a pity, because it looked like I was having a good day. I immediately thought of getting back. At the time, my elbow hurt a bit but it was okay afterwards. If Bruno hadn’t been in the peloton at the time, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to get back,” said the French climber.

“If I had been alone, it would have been over for me. Bruno was once again of a very big support today. I had good legs in the final,” he said, “but I was also afraid of blowing up because of my previous efforts. I’m still happy, because the goal when I crashed was first to come back and then to finish with the best. We did not lose time, except on Primoz, so that’s a good thing”.

“We will try to heal the wounds and recover well tomorrow,” David finished. “On Friday, things might get a little harder, but I hope to recover in order to be good to go on Saturday for La Colmiane”.

Tao Geoghegan Hart: Landed on my head today. Thank you @INEOSGrenadiers & the medical team for putting my long-term welfare first when it was clear I wasn’t 100%. Little rest, no screen-time & hopefully back soon

Ineos Sports director Gabriel Rasch added more on Tao’s crash “His front wheel slipped on the descent. I don’t know if there was gravel on the road, it was just bad luck. ”

“Tao landed on his face and his knee was also hit. He felt dizzy afterwards. We then decided to take him off course. It was the right decision, we didn’t want to take any risks. ”

Maximilian Schachmann: “Primož attacked at the perfect moment and I couldn’t quite follow. I thought the last 3 km would have been steeper actually. Maybe I didn’t have the confidence and I should have tried to keep up. But I am very happy with the result. Primoz has a very strong team around him here and it will be hard, but the atmosphere here in the team is good and of course we will try and continue to do our best.”

Lucas Hamilton: “I think it was a good day for the team, it was quite a hard day and we had two of us there in the final, right up until one kilometre to go. We would have preferred to win of course but Roglic saw a good opportunity and he is one of the strongest bike riders in the world, so there was not much we could do then.

“I think he found a really good moment, and when a guy like that gets a small gap it is very hard to bring him back. It is one of those things, I was in the position that I was in and with that we did what we could.”

Luis Leon Sanchez. “It was a good opportunity for me to fight for a stage win. The first part of the climb was hard, and I gave my all to stay in front as long as possible. There was still a chance for me if I could hold the peloton off until the last three kilometres, where the climb became gentler, but Roglic and the others caught me back before. I felt like I could go until the finish, however it was a nice attempt for me, and I feel like the form is coming up, so I will keep on trying in the next days”


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