Catalan rider strenghtens lead in Under-26 classification, struggles yet remains into GC group in first of three mountainous, decisive days in Paris-Nice.
Marc Soler put all courage and consistency he’s got on the table on stage six to keep his chances to get a good overall result completely alive in the 2018 Paris-Nice race. The Catalan allrounder from the Movistar Team put up with all pace changes from his rivals at a tough finale towards Vence (198km), with the short, steep Côte de la Colle sur Loup (Cat-1) followed by a long slope towards the finish. At the latter, some of the best climbers in the WorldTour tried to stay away from the field, eventually overtaken by local rider Rudy Molard (GFC), who claimed the stage win.
Soler was able to remain calm for most of the stage. A long breakaway by Carlos Barbero -caught with just over 20km remaining- and the wise, strong teamwork by the Blues, directed by road captain Imanol Erviti, all allowed Marc getting through the first of the two ascents into a group of about twenty riders, in company of Richard Carapaz. Marc was left behind, though, at the second climb, into a group of strugglers led by SKY. Eventually, and with just over 1k remaining, the first two groups got together and made Soler, who got a position up in the GC after a crash by second-placed Wout Poels, become 3rd overall, 26″ behind Luis León Sánchez (AST).
The ‘Course to the Sun’ has got yet another test in store for the brave 24-year-old rider from the Movistar Team –in a solid lead of the Young riders’ classification, over 1′ ahead of Sam Oomen (SUN) and Felix Grossscharner (BOH)- at Saturday’s Queen stage, finishing atop Valdeblore La Colmiane (Cat-1; 16km at 6%) after 175km that will also include the Col de Sainte-Baume (Cat-1).