Paris-Nice 2014: stage eight – five observations

Carlos Betancur seals biggest career win as the young and French star

News Geraint Thomas had abandoned overnight following the heavy crash which brought him down on stage six was unsurprising but was still desperately unlucky for the Welshman. Handed the team leadership at the 11th hour following Richie Porte’s switch to Tirreno-Adriatico, Thomas had stepped up to the task fantastically with second place on stage four and two days in the maillot jaune. And though he had lost it on the uphill finish in stage six he was still very much in contention to steal it back over the next two days.

Geraint Thomas enjoyed two days in the yellow jersey but crashed out while placed second overall (pic: P.Perreve/ASO)

Whether he could or not, we will now never know after he was brought down by a crash just five kilometres from the finish line – losing all overall ambitions in the process. It was a cruel way to miss out, and the same way in which Romain Bardet, Wilco Kelderman and Tom-Jelte Slagter had all seen their own overall ambitions hampered. That Slagter won the stage, shows – having narrowly edged out Thomas three days earlier – shows it was once which could have suited Thomas. A time bonus for the Welshman would have made for a very nervy finale for Carlos Betancur and Ag2r-La Mondiale. Nevertheless, Thomas has surely proved he has what it takes to lead the team in a major stage race. Another opportunity can not be too far away.

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