Paris-Nice (st. 7)
De la Parte, amazing Soler and whole Movistar Team give their everything for Izagirre towards La Couillole; Basque finishes 10th in the day, holds to 4th place overall before Col d'Eze decides GC on Sunday
A proof of how the Movistar Team looks and works when a leader requires it could be seen at the Col de la Couillole, end to the toughest stage of the 2017 Paris-Nice -177km with four categorized climbs, from sea level in the Côte d'Azur to the highest-ever summit in the race (1,678m)-. A solid ride from the Arrieta / Laguía-led squad allowed them reaching halfway through the final ascent with three riders (Gorka Izagirre, Víctor de la Parte and Marc Soler) as both race leader Julian Alaphilippe (QST) and second-placed Tony Gallopin (LTS) had both been already dropped.
The ultimate acceleration from both Trek -Jarlinson Pantano setting up Alberto Contador- and Richie Porte (BMC), unstoppable en route to a stage win, took the better off Gorka. However, help from Víctor and most notably a sensational Marc, who never left his team leader before the finish, allowed the Catalan and the Basque finishing respectively 9th and 10th, 1'21" behind Porte and around 50" in arrears of new GC leader Sergio Henao (SKY).
Despite Izagirre being overtaken by Dan Martin (QST) and Contador in the GC standings, Gorka remains 4th, 1' behind Henao and 29" away from third spot, one he'll keep chasing during the Course to the Sun's showdown on Sunday: a very intense 115km around Nice, with five rated ascents and the Col d'Eze (Cat-1; 7.7km at 5.7% avg.) just 15km from the last finishing line at the Promenade des Anglais.
Picture ©: BettiniPhoto.net / A.S.O.