Paris-Nice (st. 7)
Rojas claims 4th in Biot, sits in an identical fourth overall in París-Nice before Sunday’s showdown in the Col d’Eze
Strength and luck do not match José Joaquín Rojas’s (Movistar Team) commitment to success in this year’s Paris-Nice, which will be decided tomorrow in the Côte d’Azur. A fourth place -the same result from another sprint, a mass one, in the race’s opener in Mantes- was the only consolation for the Spaniard in Biot, venue for a demanding, treacherous circuit that closed the 195km route -with five rated climbs- started at Avignon.
The Movistar Team, reinforced today in their overall lead in the ‘Course to the Sun’ -more than one minute over rivals AG2R-, focused entirely on Rojillas‘s chances, protecting him with the Izagirre brothers and Jesús Herrada. Meanwhile, Sylwester Szmyd, with a long break that was caught with less than 40k remaining after riding through all climbs up-front, and John Gadret, really active with several moves in the slopes of the closing circuit, led protagonism for the Blue team, which lost Iván Gutiérrez for the remainder of the race due to back pain.
Countless attacks into the bunch did not come to a real selection and the final sprint saw Rojas taking into good position, but still beaten by Slagter (GRS), Costa (LAM) and GC leader Betancur (ALM). A crash by Geraint Thomas (SKY), 2nd overall, meant the rider from Cieza would jump a place higher in the GC, now sitting in 4th, just 1″ behind Stybar (OPQ) and 29″ off the yellow’s pace. The Promenade des Anglais in Nice (128km) will take the race’s curtain down on Sunday after five categorized ascents, including the second half of the Col d’Eze (Cat-1.)