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by Matt de Neef
March 12, 2018
In today’s edition of the CT Daily News Digest: Soler wins chaotic Paris-Nice as De la Cruz takes final-stage victory; Yates wins Stage 5 at Tirreno-Adriatico, Kwiatkowski moves into race lead; Amy Pieters wins the Ronde van Drenthe; Hayato Okamoto takes Tour de Taiwan lead after stage 1; Nino Schurter’s XCO World Cup streak comes to an end; Langvad on top after Ferrand-Prevot’s mechanical in South Africa; Tom Dumoulin forced out of Tirreno-Adriatico; Doctor who claimed to have supplied drugs to 150 elite sportspeople is struck off; Obree returns to the windtunnel: How fast were his classic TT positions?; Behind the wheel of the Astana team bus.
Spanish revelation Marc Soler (Movistar) took top honours at Paris-Nice Sunday, leapfrogging his way up the general classification on the strength of an all-Spanish breakaway that rode across a wet and mountainous stage to snatch the final-stage win and, for Soler, overall victory. Soler finished third on the stage, behind compatriots David De la Cruz (Team Sky) and Omar Fraile (Astana).
Soler attacked on the Cote de Peille, the fourth of six climbs on the stage, with 45km remaining on the short 110km stage, drawing out De la Cruz and Fraile. His gain was Simon Yates’ loss; the Mitchelton-Scott rider watched his GC lead slip away, partly due to time bonuses. Soler’s 35-second margin at the finish, plus three seconds of intermediate time bonuses and four seconds at the line, saw him beat Yates by four seconds overall. (Yates took one second at the first intermediate sprint, on the Cote de Levens.)
“It went full gas at the first intermediate sprint for the time bonus,” Soler said. “Then when I saw that there was no breakaway attempt, I decided to save my strength before going for it. It was a decision we planned in the morning with my team directors and my teammates. It’s really a dream come true to win Paris-Nice and add my name to the winners list next to some of the greats of cycling. I’m progressing each year and I’m getting used to ride at that level. I’m progressing step by step.”
It was the first major stage-race victory for the 24-year-old Catalan rider after finishing third at the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol last month. Soler, winner of the 2015 Tour de l’Avenir, is only the fourth Spaniard to win Paris-Nice, along with Alberto Contador, Luis León Sánchez, and Miguel Indurain. It was the second year in a row that De la Cruz won the final stage of Paris-Nice from a breakaway of three Spanish riders; in 2017, riding for QuickStep Floors, he won ahead of Contador and Soler.
“It was a really hard and hectic day,” De la Cruz said. “We knew it would be, and the most important thing was to stay focused and be ready for a fight. The tempo was full-gas from the beginning to the end. I’m really happy I can win again for the second year in a row. To win just one stage here is hard, so to do it two years in a row is really special for me.”