Sam Bennett smashes Paris Nice Stage 1 Uphill Sprint
Bennett comes round all his rivals to stamp his authority on the first early spring Sprint. Richie Porte has to abandon after freak accident left him on the floor reeling in pain
The opening stage of Paris-Nice was a two lap affair around Saint-cyr-l'école just outside the capital with an uphill sprint finish along the Palace of Versailles.
The stage saw Fabien Doubey attack soon after the start and managed to build a four minute gap.
Behind the peloton, Deceuninck-QuickStep, Trek-Segafredo and Groupama-FDJ started to bring the gap down 2with 88 km to go.
With 54 kms to go and Phillippe Gilbert attacked out of the pack for Lotto Soudal. Stefano Oldani (Lotto Soudal), Antony Perez (Cofidis), and Christopher Lawless (Total Direct Energie) followed as they caught Fabien Doubey.
Philippe Gilbert, Stefano Oldani (Lotto Soudal), Antony Perez (Cofidis) tried to drop the two Total Direct Energie riders who wouldn't contribute.
With around 40 kms to go Richie Porte was seen reeling on the floor in a small stack at the back of the peloton. He got back on but was struggling, but later abandoned as it looked as he had injured his hip, he was left far behind the back of the race.
The three leaders made it to the top of the final 3rd category climb with Christopher Lawless (Total Direct Energie) taking the KOM points and the KOM jersey and ceremoniously drifting casualy back into the pack.
Bora and Lotto really start to chase and Gilbert, Oldani and Perez have been brought back by the pack with 25 km to go
A group of 7 went clear after the intermediate sprint,Pierre Latour (Total Direct Energie) took six other riders with him: Kragh Andersen, Teuns, Cattaneo, De la Cruz, Gautier, Sbaragli. The peloton was just ten seconds behind.
6kms to go and the sprinters teams got organized, Trek lead the bunch for Mads Pedersen, Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ are taking turns at the front of the peloton.
Jumbo-Visma show themselves for the front time, eager to make sure Primoz Roglic is safely tucked in near the head of the bunch for the 3km to go marker.
Bennet, Coquard, Demare, Pederson, Bahaus were all upfront in the last km.
In the final uphill sprint, it was a Perfect leadout for Ackermann, but he had nothing in the tank. Sam Bennett was on his wheel and passed him on the left had side with ease. Demare went too early and sprinted against BORA's train, Pedersen was caught behind Demare.
Stage 2 on Monday is a flat 188km stage from Oinville-sur-Montcient to Amilly and will suit a breakaway or bunch sprint. The weather especially the wind could affect this stage. Tune and in and watch and follow LIVE tomorrow.
VIDEO: 2021 Paris Nice Stage 1 Highlights
2021 Paris Nice Stage 1 Top 10
1 Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-QuickStep 3:51:38
2 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3 Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
4 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
5 Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
6 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
7 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
8 Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
9 André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-Up Nation
10 Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation