Paris-Nice 2014: stage eight – five observations

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

The 72nd edition of Paris-Nice was billed as a race for the daring, and so it certainly proved. And it also proved to be a race for the young, and a race for the French. French champion Artur Vichot (, at 25, was the only rider not eligible for the white jersey – and had it been done under Tour de France rules, where the jersey is for anybody under 26, even he would have qualified. Nacer Bouhanni (, Moreno Hofland (Belkin), John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) and Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) all seized the opportunity to shine on the WorldTour stage, while the performances of Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) and Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing) deserve mentions.

French champion Arthur Vichot celebrates his stage win in front of a home crowd (pic: P.Perreve/ASO)

As for the French – and Ag2r-La Mondiale both secured two stage wins apiece and five days in the yellow jersey between them. Three of the top ten riders overall heralded from the country, while Carlos Betancur’s win means a French team won Paris-Nice for the first time in more than two decades – Toshiba, in 1991, were the last. Eyebrows were raised when the parcours was announced, but for organisers ASO it has been a huge success. Several young riders seized the opportunity to impress, and with no definitive selection point it made for an enthralling, open race.

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