After a couple of days of switching who is leading who, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar got down to proper climbing business on Wednesday’s first summit finish of the 2023 Paris-Nice. The much-anticipated showdown resulted in the Slovenian beating his rival handily and taking over the race lead. Hugo Houle was in the race’s breakaway and came in 66th.
After the not-particularly-earthshaking but innovative team time trial, the main GC riders were spread like this behind yellow jersey Magnus Cort:
5) Jonas Vingegaard (Denmark/Jumbo-Visma) +0:03
6) Simon Yates (Great Britain/Jayco-AlUla) +0:07
10) Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia/UAE-Emirates) +0:14
11) David Gaudu (France/Groupama-FDJ) +0:17
28) Jack Haig (Australia/Bahrain-Victorious) +0:50
30) Romain Bardet 32) Dani Martinez 33) Pavel Sivakov +0:51
All the climbing was reserved for the final third of the 165-km route from Saint-Amand-Montrond to La Loge des Gardes. After a couple of Cat. 3 warmup ascents, the summit finish was 6.8 km of 7 percent, the grades relenting in the penultimate kilometre before kicking up again to the line.
Stage 4 of @ParisNice sees the first uphill finish of the race, with the 1st category La Loge des Gardes providing a tricky test! Expect fireworks!
🏁 La Loge des Gardes
📺GCN+/Eurosport 14:55 (CET)
— Israel – Premier Tech (@IsraelPremTech) March 8, 2023
Hugo Houle was part of a septet of breakaways that established itself after around 25 km and rolled up a maximum gap of 5:00. Behind, the crosswinds were wreaking havoc on the peloton, which kept splitting and mending.
EF Education, UAE-Emirates and Ineos all took their shifts at the front of the field. With Cat. 3 climbs Côte du Vernet and Côte de Cheval Rigon checked off and 27 km to race, the gap was 1:41. Jumbo-Visma took over with intent.
With the escape reeled in, third place Michael Matthews and Pogačar burst out from the peloton to take bonus seconds atop non-categorized Col du Beaulouis.
Ineos led onto the final climb. Instantly the peloton thinned out. An Arkea-Samsic chap bounced clear to be the rabbit in the opening kilometre. Matthews and Cort were dropped.
Vingegaard attacked with 4.2 km remaining. Only Pogačar could follow. David Gaudu attempted to bridge.
Gaudu passed the two Tour de France…
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