Paris-Nice (final stage)
Gorka claims excellent top-5 overall against WorldTour climbers in 'Course to the Sun'; Marc battles until very end against De la Cruz (QST), Contador (TFS) after whole day in early break
The Movistar Team pursued their two main goals in Paris-Nice with great effort all the way to the final stage around the hills of the Côte d'Azur. The squad directed by Arrieta and Laguía fought at the front for the entire 115km stage eight -five rated climbs, with the famous Col d'Eze (Cat-1) just 15 kilometers from the end-, and was really close to claim the day's honours with a 23-year-old youngster, Catalan Marc Soler, turned into the biggest revelation of the weekend. His brilliant work for Gorka Izagirre through the La Couillole climb on Saturday was made even better by Sunday's courageous and almost successful break.
Three men from the telephone squad -José Herrada, Rory Sutherland and Soler himself- battled from the early stages into a crowded breakway (25 riders) that splitted into the Cat-1 Peille climb, the penultimate ascent of the race. At the very same time, Alberto Contador (TFS) launched several attacks that left both Dan Martin (QST) and race leader Sergio Henao (SKY) behind. The Colombian started to make up his gap from behind as the Movistar Team battled together with him, the Blues trying to keep Gorka Izagirre into overall contention after the Basque was dropped by Contador's attack.
In turn, Soler resisted well inside the break and, at the Col d'Eze, found himself into a three-man group with Contador and David de la Cruz (QST), whom he attack with two kilometers from the summit. Unable to keep them at distance into the downhill, the Spaniard, exhausted by his acceleration, collected a bitter 3rd spot into an agonic sprint in the Promenade des Anglais -his best ever WorldTour result, having finished 4th at a Volta a Catalunya stage in 2015-. Marc's result was, though, overshadowed by a magnificent 4th-place overall finish by Gorka Izagirre. A result that proves the progression by the 29-year-old from Ormaiztegi, always silent and backing his team leaders while qualified to excel in all terrains.