Prelude to two big battles
11 March 2017

Paris-Nice (st. 6) / Tirreno-Adriatico (st. 3)

Gorka Izagirre holds to Paris-Nice GC chances in 'mur' de Fayence: finishes 12th, sits now 4th overall before La Couillole and Eze. Over in Italy, Quintana stays away from final crash, remains 7th in eve of 'talisman' Terminillo

In the first of three mountain stages of this year's Paris-Nice (race gallery), the Movistar Team took to the fore and continued to fight for the two big goals they keep in mind till Sunday: a stage win and a good GC finish for Gorka Izagirre.

The former goal was pursued by the Blues right from the early flurry of attacks in a demanding stage six -193.5km, with six rated climbs, from Aubagne to Fayence, including the Col de l'Espigoulier (Cat-1) right from the start-. At the first ascent, Winner Anacona and José Herrada entered a break that would last together until the final hour of racing. Behind, with the main favourites, were Izagirre and a fine Marc Soler, who stayed with his team leader until the penultimate climb, the Col de la Bourigaille (Cat-1). As the Catalan fulfilled his work, it was the turn of Simon Yates (ORS) to launch what ended up being a decisive attack.

The Briton ammassed a significant, 45-second gap through the descent and the flat linking the last two ascents, enough to claim the stage win at the 'mur' de Fayence. Gorka started to pay his efforts against an impressive group which included some of the WorldTour's best climbers: the man from Ormaiztegi still got 12th in the stage, 38" behind Yates and just ten seconds behind most of the GC contenders. Only Sergio Henao (SKY), a remarkable 2nd today, took over his oplace overall, the Basque now in 4th at 57" from Julian Alaphilippe (QST). Nine riders remain two minutes apart as the weekend includes a tough mountain-top finish in the Col de la Couillole (Cat-1; 15.7km, 7.1% avg.), Saturday, and the hilly circuit around Nice, Sunday.

Tirreno-Adriatico: Nairo looking forward to Terminillo

A late scare was waiting for the sprinters in Tirreno-Adriatico (pictures) as a crash inside of the final kilometer of stage three -204km towards a slightly uphill finish in Montalto di Castro- split the bunch and took several fastmen out of contention, yet caused no gaps as a result of the regular jury neutralization in such incidents. The Movistar Team riders went through unscathed as Nairo Quintana conserved his 7th place in the GC, 22" behind Rohan Dennis (BMC), in the day prior to the Terminillo climb.

The mountain that saw the Colombian winning under the snow in the 2015 edition of the 'Two Seas' comes on Saturday, at the end of a 187km journey with a steep aproach -the non-categorized Castelfranco ascent- to the 16.1-kilometer ascent that will surely define most things in the overall outcome of this Italian WorldTour event.

Results: Paris-Nice | Tirreno-Adriatico

Picture ©: A.S.O.