It was once again the will of bad luck -this time, the crash by sprinter José Joaquín Rojas- which took Movistar Team out of crowning another memorable ride in the seventh stage of the 69th Paris-Nice.
The lads directed by Yvon Ledanois conceeded a real exhibition during the final 60 kilometers of a hellish stage -which took almost twenty riders out of the race-, due to infamous weather with heavy rain and cold accompanying the sacrifying riders during the 240km route. Movistar Team seized control into the peloton during the descent of the Cat. 2 Côte du Gourdon, breaking the pack into two halves and leading the main one until the very first line. Lastras, Chente, Iván Gutiérrez, Pasamontes and David López made an incredible effort for more than an hour and a half to keep alive options by their fastman JJ Rojas. However, two kilometers from the finish, their hopes were ruined when a rider touched the Spaniard’s rear wheel, Rojas ending with his bones on the ground and seeing all Movistar Team chances to triumph going down too.
Xavi Tondo made a desperate attempt to succeed with a big pace change in the ascending final kilometer; the Catalan rider destroyed unity into the field, which got reduced into only nine riders behind Frenchman Rémy di Gregorio (AST), whose solo attack allowed him to claim the day’s honours. At the end, and after a crash with no consequences just few centimeters from the line, Tondo took the 9th place of the day and kept the same position into the overall rankings before the eighth, final day of racing in and around Nice.
Also, Movistar Team’s jersey shone for many minutes of race on Italian turf, thanks to the good performances by Ángel Madrazo and Vasil Kiryienka. The Spaniard and the Belarusian launched attacks during the selective final kilometer of the 46th Tirreno-Adriatico’s fourth stage, won by Michele Scarponi (LAM). Despite big effort in their moves, Madrazo and Kiry managed to keep on front until the finish, making it to the line just under a minute behind the winner’s time. Gesink (RAB) is still in the lead as the Queen stage of the Italian tour will be ridden on Sunday.