Paris-Nice (final stage)
Vichot (FDJ) becomes Spaniard’s tormentor – 2nd in Nice, 4th in the overall by just 1sec. Movistar wins Paris-Nice teams’ overall classification
The final podium José Joaquín Rojas fought for through the entire Paris-Nice went neglected into the very last sprint, contested in the Promenade des Anglais of the Côte d’Azur’s capital after 128km full of small climbs. The Spanish rider from the Movistar Team ended 4th overall in the ‘Course of the Sun’ after taking 2nd to French champion Arthur Vichot (FDJ) over the line. Such misfortune, after a day where the telephone squad did not lose their commitment and strength.
Imanol Erviti kept Blue team calm by entering the day’s early, 17-man break that led the race through the opening ascents. Despite the wear and tear after being caught with 40k left, the Navarrese kept working alongside the Izagirre brothers, Szmyd and Gadret, and helped out Rojas in two key moments: when he got dropped from the favourites’ group, just over the Col d’Eze, and when Fränk Schleck (TFR) and a dangerous Simon Spilak (KAT) escaped on the last downhill.
Vichot, who had taken a bonus second through the last intermediate sprint, beat Rojas, who was left out of the final podium by just one second due to the bonus difference at the finish, the Frenchman stepping onto it with Betancur (ALM) and Costa (LAM). Movistar Team was somewhat consoled by their first WorldTour teams’ overall win of the 2014 season, recognition to a block committed to the top, with several breaks, excellent team-work and three riders within the GC’s top-20.
REACTION / José Joaquín Rojas: “It’s a bittersweet result for me. While I missed out on yesterday’s win because my rivals were stronger, that wasn’t the case today. The blame was on me, because I got a bit boxed in and couldn’t overtake Vichot in the end. I’m sad for me, but especially for my team-mates, because they relied on me all the way to the finish, they were sensational. At the Col d’Eze, we chose to release the gas a bit, since I was contesting the sprints with no energy by taking such big efforts in the least suited terrain for me; that is, the climbs. Having three team-mates, we controlled well and ended up bridging. At the end, I was only thinking of the stage and not the podium, because one thing would lead to the other. More interest do well than myself, there cannot be anyone, but we still have to be conscious about all difficulties I went through this year: the scaphoid fracture, a viral infection that kept me out of racing… I must stay happy, because I could be up-front in such an important race after such misfortune. My next goals will be Milano-Sanremo and possibly País Vasco, because getting to the classics following my hand fracture is too risky.”