Paris-Nice Stage 5

Sam Bennett avenged his disappointment on stage 2 to snatch his second stage win of this years Paris-Nice; Primoz Roglic continues to lead despite a crash and the loss of Tony Martin

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Paris-Nice Stage 5

Sam Bennett avenged his disappointment on stage 2 to snatch his second stage win of this years Paris-Nice in Bollene after another impressive show of strength by his Deceuninck-Quick Step team.

Photo: ©Bas Czerwinski / Getty Images

The Irishman powered to his 5th stage win on the Race to the Sun ahead of France’s Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea Samsic) and Germany’s Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) after a long, sometimes sluggish 200km race.

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) retained the race leader’s yellow and white jersey, but suffered a big fright when he crashed with 37 km to go in a pile-up which forced his team captain Tony Martin, the 2011 Paris-Nice winner, out of the race. Roglic now leads defending Paris-Nice title-holder Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) by 31 seconds, the German having picked a few seconds in the bonus sprints of the day.

Headwind Slog
There were 152 riders who started from Vienne for stage 5 and the peloton decided to take it easy at first, covering less than 32 km in the first hour of the race. The first sprint of the day in Vion (Km 54) won by Germany’s Jasha Sütterlin (DSM) allowed title-holder Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) to snatch two bonus seconds and find himself trailing Primoz Roglic by 33 seconds overall. Lucas Hamilton (Bike Exchange) was third. The first three hours of the race were ridden at only 33 kph.

The first attempt to shake up the peloton took place at kilometre 128, when eleven riders, all of them Belgian, upped the tempo and broke with the peloton. The escapees were Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos), Jasper Stuyven and Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Thomas De Gendt and Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal), Tim Declercq and Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Stan De Wulf and Oliver Naesen (Ag2R-Citroen), Dries de Bondt and Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix). But they were reeled in seven kilometres further down the road.

The pace increased slightly as the finish was nearing and a bunch sprint seemed unavoidable. The acceleration led to a couple of crashes at the back, one involving Laurens De Plus (Ineos Grenadiers), who was halted by a mechanical and lost ground. At kilometre 163, Tony Martin hit an obstacle on the roadside, which led to a team pile-up involving race leader Primoz Roglic. While the yellow and white jersey was able to make it back on his bike, the 2011 winner of the Race to the Sun was forced out of the race with a suspected shoulder injury.

The crash led the peloton to relax a bit as the sprinters trains were taking their positions. Max Schachmann battled in the second bonus sprint (km 184) with Ion Izagirre (Astana) who pipped him on the line and collected the three points on offer. Tiesj Benoot took the last point for his 27th birthday. Meanwhile, the Irishman Bennett relied again on a bulletproof lead-out train, and even though he was temporarily off the wheel of Michael Mørkøv ahead of the final kilometre, he found the power to accelerate and jump again aboard the Deceuninck – Quick-Step train with the flamme rouge in sight.

Tucked back on the wheel of the three-time Danish Champion Morkov, who showed again why he is the best lead-out man in the business, Sam waited for the final 200 meters to kick out. From the moment he opened his sprint it became clear he would be unbeatable, his stunning turn of speed propelling him to another clear victory at the “Race to the Sun”, after the one in St.Cyr-l’Ecole, this time ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe), who completed the podium.

“I was disappointed after the second stage, so to bounce back and win what was the last sprinters’ stage makes me very happy. It’s fantastic that Deceuninck – Quick-Step got two wins today, I’m delighted for Julian and really proud of the Wolfpack spirit that the entire team displays no matter the race or the circumstances”, said Sam after becoming the active rider with the most stage wins at Paris-Nice.

Bennett, who after his 30th career victory in the World Tour returned in the green jersey, continued: “Big thanks to the entire team, I couldn’t have done it without them. They did again an incredible job, they were just perfect. That was an awesome lead-out and I’m super happy I could hold it to the line. Michael always gets me there and a lot of my results are down to him. When I’m on his wheel, I know that all I have to do is stay there and not panic. I did that again today and it feels great to get another win in this race I love so much.”

Photo: ©Bas Czerwinski / Getty Images

Primoz Roglic (Race Leader): “Luckily all good. We’re just a little unfortunate because Tony is out but that’s cycling and we go on for tomorrow. I think probably he just hit this plastic thing in front of me on the side of the road and he just went over. We’re not so lucky because Tony is out but me, I’m fine and we have to go on. I feel excited about the last weekend of course. Definitely we’re going to do the best we can with the whole team and I hope Tony is fine.”

Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic): “The form is there, but since the start of the season I am accumulating second and third places. I am a sprinter, I want to win. This is my goal when I start a race. It’s always frustrating to finish second, but that’s how it is. I will now plan for the next races. There are still three stages to negotiate on this Paris-Nice, with a lot of passes to climb. This will allow me to further improve my condition in anticipation of the deadlines to come, especially that of next week: Milan-San-Remo. In any case, I would like to underline the perfect work of all my team-mates, and particularly Clément Russo and Dan McLay who brought me back perfectly at the end of the stage for the first, and ideally placed near the finish line in this which concerns the second ”.

Dan McLay: “This fifth stage was quiet for several hours, then the pace picked up about seventy kilometers from the finish. The whole team did a good job. Clément, Nacer and I regrouped as we approached the final and then came back from behind at the right time for the sprint to put Nacer in an ideal position so he could race for the win.”

Pascal Ackermann (Bora Hansgrohe) “After we experienced some bad luck on the second stage, we were fully motivated to net a good result today. The course was something for the sprinters and we expected that the victory would be fought out in a bunch sprint. Our sprint preparations went a slightly awry and I had to start my sprint from slightly too far back. In the finale, Sam took off and I couldn’t follow him. I ultimately finished in third place, not a win, but still a podium. My form is good and we can definitely build on it during the next races. Now we’ll be looking to concentrate on the upcoming days here to still get the best out of the race as a team.”

Giacomo Nizzolo: “In the final 50km, it started to get hectic, including the two climbs. We were well placed, but in the end, it’s always a bit of a gamble. I am happy with the feelings I have, and I am looking forward to the next goals.”

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