Paris-Nice (st. 4)
Movistar Team loses GC chances with three of their main riders in Paris-Nice's Queen stage: Intxausti abandons, Ion Izagirre suffers double mechanical, Fernández crashes while in elite group. Gorka Izagirre now 8th overall
The first of the decisive rides in the 2015 Paris-Nice, the Queen stage over seven climbs, 204km and a hilltop finish in the Croix de Chaubouret (Cat-1), became a black day for the Movistar Team. The squad directed by José Luis Arrieta and José Luis Laguía was reduced to only seven riders after Beñat Intxausti pulled out. The Basque star was affected by a flu in the days prior to the race, and had to stop during today's effort with no energy left at all, the illness having taken all off him.
Bad luck also hit two of the Blues' other main hopes for the overall classification. Ion Izagirre punctured with 25km to go, in a critical moment between climbs -very similarly to what happened to him weeks ago in the Volta ao Algarve-, and though he was assisted immediately by José Joaquín Rojas and gained back his place into the main field, all energy was spent with another mechanical. In turn, Rubén Fernández, who showed to be on great form with a move 2km from the finish, crashed against another rider and fell, ultimately losing more than one minute over the Team Sky duo made by Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas.
Gorka Izagirre, the only Movistar Team rider to stay within the elite group, finished in 12th spot (+30") and is now eighth overall (+44"), places still open for changes into the weekend. Sprinters should be back into a punchy finish on Friday, yet with the Côte de Buisson (Cat-3) only 8k away from the finish in Rasteau.