Cycling News

Late breakaway steals the show on Paris-Nice’s first summit finish

Late breakaway steals the show on Paris-Nice's first summit finish

Wednesday’s Stage 4 of the 82nd Paris-Nice, the race’s midway point, concluded on its first summit finish, where two riders who had snuck away on the penultimate ascent stole the thunder of the GC favourites. Santiago Buitrago earned one of the biggest wins of his career and Luke Plapp whisked the yellow jersey from Brandon McNulty’s shoulders. Hugo Houle was top Canadian in 77th.

Buitrago adds Paris-Nice win to two Giro stages.

The Course

There were seven categorized climbs on tap, six of which were Cat. 2. The fifth climb, Mont Brouilly, was at the start of a circuit that included Cat. 1 Col du Fût d’Avenas-Les Chappes and finished on the second clamber of 3 km, 7.6 percent Mont Brouilly. The last three ascents were on narrow roads. Rain made the route more difficult.

It seemed likely that the two fellows who had been trading blows in the KOM competition on Stages 1 and 2, Jonas Rutsch and category leader Mathieu Burgaudeau, would come out to play on the offering of Cat. 2 climbs. However, only Burgaudeau got into the breakaway quartet, taking maximum points on Col de Boubon and Côte de Vauxrenard.

Bora-Hansgrohe started to drive the peloton on the fourth climb Col de Durbize. Burgaudeau was second to crest, the peloton breathing down his neck.

Only one fugitive survived up front as the race headed towards Mont Brouilly I. Brandon McNulty lost a teammate as 2018 champion Marc Soler abandoned. With the final refugee sopped up, Bora’s pace split the peloton down the other side.

The peloton split under Bora-Hansgrohe’s impetus.

Remco Evenepoel surged to take the maximum bonus seconds at Régnié-Durette, Primož Roglič second. The split was mended before Col du Fût d’Avenas-Les Chappes, where UAE-Emirates swarmed the front. Jayco-AlUla’s Australian champion Plapp flared out on his own as the peloton disintegrated behind. Buitrago joined Plapp and they tipped over the Cat. 1 together.

Plapp and Buitrago descended, gaining time on the Ineos-steered favourites’ group. The two leaders hit the foot of the final climb with a 40-second gap over a 25-strong chase.

The Colombian gave the Australian the slip with 1.4 km to climb. Evenepoel put a man on the front of the chase. Just after Buitrago crossed the line arms aloft, Evenepoel…

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