Paris-Nice 2017: Arnaud Demare wins in crosswinds on stage one - Road Cycling UK

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Paris-Nice 2017: Arnaud Demare wins in crosswinds on stage one

Frenchman fires warning shot to Milan-San Remo rivals

Arnaud Demare (FDJ) fired a warning shot to his Milan-San Remo rivals by winning stage one of Paris-Nice 2017 on a day which saw crosswinds catch out several big-name contenders.

Demare, who will defend his Milan-San Remo title later this month, had no such issues as a very reduced front group contested the stage in Bois d’Arcy, escaping over the final uncategorised climb and outsprinting Julian Alaphilippe to take the stage.

The peloton was decimated within the first hour – Demare’s FDJ team-mates and the Belgian powerhouses of QuickStep Floors and Lotto-Soudal initiating the damage.

Arnaud Demare outsprinted Julian Alaphilippe to win stage one of the 2017 Paris-Nice, after crosswinds had decimated the peloton (pic: ASO)

Several big-name sprinters remained in the front group, with Demare joined by Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors), Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin).

Conspicuous by the absence, however, were a large group of overall contenders – Richie Porte (BMC Racing) and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) among those in the second group.

The Porte-Contador group worked hard to limit their losses, but it was apparent from some way out that the stage winner would come from those who made the front split.

And from there, it became of battle of attrition – Coquard cracking first, followed by the two Germans, Greipel and Kittel.

Alaphilippe kicked on the final climb, but Demare – aware his sprinting rivals had been dropped – chased onto his wheel to prove his form.

Having had four team-mates for support in the front group, Demare then had plenty left in the tank to outsprint his fellow Frenchman and pull on the race’s first yellow jersey of the year.

Further back, Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Daniel Martin (QuickStep Floors) and Sergio Henao (Team Sky) all finished in the top ten to give their GC hopes an early – and somewhat unexpected – boost.

Demare celebrates stage success with his team-mates, who had helped to drive the split in the bunch (pic – ASO)

The Porte-Contador group limited their losses to an extent – they even caught and passed Coquard and Kittel after they were shelled out the back of the leading group – but Contador still lost more than a minute on the day.

It proved a disastrous day for Romain Bardet, however, after the Ag2r-La Mondiale rider was disqualified for taking a tow from his team car.

The Frenchman crashed with less than 30km remaining – having already been caught out as echelons formed – and in his attempts to get back up to his rivals was deemed to have been towed by the team car.

Paris-Nice 2017: stage one – result

1) Arnaud Demare (FRA) – FDJ – 3.22.43hrs
2) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – QuickStep Floors – ST
3) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha-Alpecin +9”
4) Philippe Gilbert (BEL) – QuickStep Floors – ST
5) Romain Hardy (FRA) – Fortuneo-Vital Concept
6) Daniel Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors
7) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – Lotto-Soudal
8) Marco Haller (AUT) – Katusha-Alpecin
9) Sergio Henao (COL) – Team Sky
10) Rudy Molard (FRA) – FDJ

General classification

1) Arnaud Demare (FRA) – FDJ – 3.22.33hrs
2) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – QuickStep Floors +4”
3) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha-Alpecin +15”
4) Philippe Gilbert (BEL) – QuickStep Floors +16”
5) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – Lotto-Soudal +17”
6) Romain Hardy (FRA) – Fortuneo-Vital Concept +18”
7) Daniel Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors +19”
8) Marco Haller (AUT) – Katusha-Alpecin – ST
9) Sergio Henao (COL) – Team Sky
10) Rudy Molard (FRA) – FDJ

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