On its final day, the outcome of the Race to the Sun was completely open. Ahead of a 134km stage that saw the race pass over six categorised climbs, the last two of which were first category, Alberto Contador was 15 seconds behind the race leader, and had his eye firmly on the win.
An early breakaway put Tinkoff riders, Kiserlovski and Trofimov, in the break, and at the foot of the Cote de Peille, 50km from the finish, Contador attacked to bridge the gap, forming a chasing group. With Team Sky chasing hard on the descent of the Cote de Peille, it was all going to come down to the Col d’Eze and the descent into Nice.
“It was a tough stage.” said Sport Director, Sean Yates, summing up the day. “We had two guys in the break – Yuri and Robert. Alberto attacked hard and opened up a gap and our guys waited. From there it was a descent down to Nice then the Col d’Eze.”
After a fast and furious descent into the city, Alberto was second across the line on the final stage. In spite of having taken 11 seconds from the race leader, the Spanish rider had to settle for second spot on the GC.
“Our strategy today was executed perfectly today.” said Alberto at the finish. “We managed to have riders in the breakaway, just like we wanted, in order to make it tougher. We then split the peloton when I attacked so that they waited for me at the top. That also played out the way we wanted.”
Yates echoed Alberto’s comments. “The bunch was blown to pieces. Majka sat on the chase and then picked up the pace on the Col d’Eze. Alberto went again and bridged across. We made the race and gave it everything. Alberto was very strong and only lost the GC by four seconds. He once again showed he’s a force to be reckoned with.”
Looking back on the day’s events, Alberto knew how hard the race would be. “We fought hard in this final stage of Paris-Nice. We gave our best and we missed the overall win by just four seconds. It was a slim margin but after yesterday’s stage I knew it would have been very difficult to get the top spot since Sky has a very strong team. However, we tried our best and we were nearly there. We attacked with 60km to go and pushed the leader to the limit.”
“Still, Sky had a strong team,” Alberto continued. “They pulled very hard and reached us before Col d’Eze. Rafal Majka was there, waiting for me, in order to make the last climb hard. We attacked again and left the leader behind. However, behind us, there were different interests and the gap with us was closed. At the end, I was only able to take five seconds.”
Looking back on how the race panned out, Sean looked to the weather conditions of stage three and how it affected the race, but was positive about the team’s strong ride. “The cancellation of stage three may have changed things, but apart from that we tried and gave it everything this weekend. We race to win but we can still take positives from Alberto’s 2nd place.”
The Tinkoff leader was pleased with how he had performed over the week, and gave credit to his teammates for the effort they put into the race. “I’m happy overall with my form, despite missing on the win, and I would really like to thank the rest of the squad. They put in a dedicated effort to protect me and position me rough out the race. I’m sure all cycling fans enjoyed a spectacular race and they are the reason why we do this.”
Contador also singled out Tinkoff’s owner for his support and encouragement throughout the race. “Last but certainly not least, I would also like to thank our team owner, Oleg Tinkov, for his continued support and trust he shows in the team. He was with us at the start in Paris and this is something we always appreciate.”
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alberto contador paris-nice Rafal Majka robert kiserlovski Tinkoff