Roglic wins Paris-Nice stage 7, heartbreak for Mäder
Primoz Roglic took his third stage win of this Paris-Nice and solidified his lead in the overall, snagging the stage victory in a brutal final-meters pass from breakaway rider Gino Mäder, who crossed the line in second.
With one stage left, Roglic now leads by 52 seconds over Bora-Hansgrohe’s Max Schachmann.
How it happened
The category 1 summit finish at Valdeblore La Colmiane – which was also the last finish of the COVID-shortened 2020 edition – ensured that stage 7 would help define the overall GC.
A mixed group including classics riders, a couple of climbers, and sprinters like Sam Bennett and Arnaud Demare (likely eyeing a bit of Milan-San Remo form building) had a gap ahead of the final sprint point of the day, but was never given more than two minutes
As the Colmiane began, the stronger climbers in the group – Andrey Amador (Ineos), Dylan Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious), Neilson Powless (EF-Nippo), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) – pushed on. But with less than a minute to the peloton, their efforts appeared optimistic.
BikeExchange, riding for Lucas Hamilton, held the break close and pulled the peloton into the base of the climb, around 25km to go. The Ineos Grenadiers took over, helped by Bora-Hansgrohe. The size of the main bunch slowly dwindled, as did the size of the breakaway.
Primoz Roglic, in yellow, sat comfortably in 6th wheel, surrounded by teammates.
Birthday boy Simon Geschke (Cofidis), 35 today, hit out from the main peloton with 11.5km to go.
Ahead, the lead group dwindled to just three, Powless, Mäder, and Elissonde. Mäder appeared the most comfortable and proved it with 6.9 km to go with a sharp attack, dropping both of his companions. Powless slowly clawed his way back, and at 6.5km to the duo was together again.
Geschke was swept up by the peloton shortly after, leaving just the pair out front with a gap of 40 seconds at 5 km from the finish.
Astana hit the front of the peloton with numbers, but the tempo wasn’t hard enough to get rid of any of Roglic’s lieutenants.
Jumbo’s George Bennett hit back, taking the front from Astana and pulling the peloton into a long line with 3km to go.
Mäder continued on, his gap down to 34 seconds, as Bennett swung off and his teammate Steven Kruijswijk took over, culling the group down to just 11 riders. Still present were Jai Hindley (DSM), Roglic, Hamilton, Schachmann and Astana’s Alexandre Vlasov.
Kruijswijk’s work was done at 1.5 km to go and Roglic briefly hit the front, now isolated.
Under the red kite, Mäder’s gap was down to just 17 seconds, chased the group of favorites.
Roglic attacked, hands in the drops, and only Schachmann could respond. Roglic swung off, looking at Schachmann, and the pause looked like a gift to Mäder.
Roglic wasn’t done though. He punched it again, passing Mäder in the final meters, making it his third stage win this week.
More to come.
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