Benoot and Wellens, leaders for Il Lombardia
Preview of Milan-Turin, GranPiemonte and Il Lombardia
Paris-Nice ended today with an exciting stage of only 110 kilometres with start and finish in Nice. Tim Wellens got fifth overall. As winner of the points classification he can take home the green jersey. Thomas De Gendt won the KOM classification and thus the polka dot jersey.
After seven stages, seven riders were all standing at the top of the GC within forty seconds of each other. In today’s short mountain stage with six climbs the overall victory was still at stake. Soon after the start 24 riders rode away from the bunch. Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens were part of the front group. De Gendt was the first to cross the top of the first climb and fourth on the second climb of the day, securing the polka dot jersey.
David de la Cruz, Omar Fraile and Marc Soler attacked from the group of Wellens and managed to stay ahead till the finish. De la Cruz won the stage ahead of Fraile. Soler got third, but became the overall winner of Paris-Nice. Tim Wellens crossed the finish line 38 seconds after de la Cruz, as fifth. The Lotto Soudal rider is also fifth on GC, sixteen seconds down on Soler.
Tim Wellens: “My teammates and I had the ambition to claim the overall victory of Paris-Nice when we left to the start. Unfortunately, we didn’t achieve that goal, but if you had told me before Paris-Nice that I would finish fifth overall I would have been very happy. The green jersey is a consolation prize, but it also proves how consistently I performed the past week.”
“Two times I came very close to the stage win: when I got fourth in the uphill sprint last Sunday and when I got second in Vence on Friday. Both yesterday and today I finished fifth in a very hard stage and in Wednesday’s time trial I set the eighth time. That are all wonderful results. This morning I was still in the running for the overall victory, but unfortunately I didn’t make it.”
The green jersey is a consolation prize, but it also proves how consistently I performed the past week.
“At a certain moment the Izagirre brothers and Simon Yates were distanced and I though they wouldn’t close the gap anymore, but they did. Gorka Izagirre beat me at the first intermediate sprint of the day and that one second I missed out on, made the difference between becoming fifth or fourth on GC. But, I am fifth at sixteen seconds and that shows that it was a very exciting battle. This result is definitely a step forward in my career. Now I will take some rest before racing Volta a Catalunya and the Walloon Classics.”
At Tirreno-Adriatico Tiesj Benoot set another great performance. The fifth stage finished in Filottrano where the riders had to climb the Muro di Filottrano three times. Adam Yates won the stage. Seven seconds later first Sagan and then Kwiatkowski crossed the finish line, followed by Benoot on the fourth place. Benoot is now eighth on GC at 39 seconds of new leader Michal Kwiatkowski. Benoot remains the best young rider on GC.