Primož Roglič punches to stage win on late attack, extends overall lead –

Primož Roglič punches to stage win on late attack, extends overall lead –

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Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) took the victory from the group gallop in an uphill finish on stage 6 of Paris-Nice, extending his overall lead to 41 seconds.

The Slovenian also re-takes the lead in the points competition, after a heroic effort by Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) to keep pace in the final uphill kilometer.

“It’s cool to win like this. It was really hard from the beginning of the day, that’s why I was happy at the end,” Roglic said.

In the last 400m of the stage, Cofidis’ Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) launched an attack but was quickly marked by Roglič, with teammate Christophe Laporte on the race leader’s wheel. As Martin faded, Laporte appeared to come around to take the win but was denied by Roglič. Michael Matthews — who wore the race leader’s jersey on stage 3 — took the final podium position.

American Brandon McNulty (UAE-Team Emirates) crashed out of the race near the halfway mark. McNulty had been leading the youth classification and was in third overall.

Overnight, the race management in consultation with local government and health officials altered the final two stages to respect the health requirements imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s no different, I have to make do with it. I do not worry. It will be two defining stages, as always at the end of this race. I expect that the race will be full, because it is two short [stages],” the overall race leader said about the route changes. “Undoubtedly, it will be very beautiful for the fans to see. Who do I focus on? Especially on myself. If I stay focused and we do our work with the whole team, the result will normally follow,”

How it happened

A break of five had forged out and gained an advantage of nearly two-and-three-quarter minutes with 50km of racing remaining. In this group was Julien El Fares (EF Education-Nippo), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Jonathan Hivert (B&B Hotels), and Victor Campanaerts (Qhubeka-Assos).

Just a few kilometers later, El Fares dropped off the front to retire to the peloton, while up the road Lutsenko was not able to sustain the pace, and let a 20-second gap form on a short climb.

The Astana-Premier Tech rider worked hard to get back to the three remaining leaders, but finally pulled the cord and also dropped back to the main group.

Just inside of 21km Campanaerts and Hivert are shed and Ellisonde forged on solo, now some 40 seconds ahead. But this gap came down quickly on the rolling roads, and aggressive pace set by the chasing peloton.

At 14km to go, Jonas Rutsch (EF Education-Nippo) bridged to Ellisonde who was just 10 seconds up the road, and the two stretched the lead to 22 seconds before the final climb.

Ellisonde stuck to Rutsch’s wheel and refused to pull through, despite several calls and gestures made by the tall German riding for the EF Education-Nippo squad.

Roglic timed his final attack and took another stage, while padding his overall lead at the 2021 Paris-Nice. Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images

With just 3.5km remaining, Elissonde dropped off front and back to the pack while Rutsch stuck it out, even while the pack was within several bike-lengths of his rear wheel.

Into the final 2km, the general classification riders all moved to the front, with big Irish sprinter Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) in the green jersey fighting to stick with the lanky climbers.

Inside of 1,000 meters, a bunch jostled for position, while Bora-Hansgrohe and Cofidis struggled to keep riders near the front, and an eye on the yellow jersey.

Although Cofidis was first to attack, with Martin’s move, it was the punchy power of Roglič that won the day, earning him the stage win, bonus seconds, and bonus points in the race for the green jersey.

Wearing the leader’s jersey, Roglič was greeted by his wife and child at the finish.

“The fact that they are here is an extra motivation. It’s always nice to have them with me, they are my biggest supporters,” Roglič said. “It was really cool to have the legs and win the stage. It was really tough all day and it was full from the start. We were all tired so I thought why not give it a try? Nice that I could finish it.”

What’s to come

With the final two stages modified to respect coronavirus prevention requirements, Roglic will undoubtedly want to pad his advantage in the overall and points completion through strategic placement in the intermediate checkpoints, as well as in the finishing position final two stages.

Saturday’s stage seven, which was due to set off from Nice, will now start from Le Broc and will end as planned in Valdeblore La Colmiane.

Paris-Nice Stage 6 Results

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