Despite a challenging day in the yellow jersey that saw several riders trying their luck for overall victory, Geraint Thomas stood tall in Nice to secure his first WorldTour stage race victory. Thomas’ second place on stage 6 to La Madone d’Utelle saw the 29-year-old move into the overall lead and hold a 15 second advantage over Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) with one stage to come.
Stage 6 went to Ilnur Zakarin as the Katusha rider got the better of Thomas, Contador, and Richie Porte (BMC) after the quartet passed under the flamme rouge together. With race leader Michael Matthews cracking on the climb, the yellow jersey went to Thomas who also picked up vital bonus seconds on the finish line.
With nine riders within one minute of his overall lead at the start of Stage 7, Thomas and his Team Sky teammates looked to be in for a tough day around Nice and that’s exactly what occurred. Contador was active across the stage in search of a third Paris-Nice title, as was Porte, with the duo causing the most grief to Thomas who thought was race was over after he cracked on the Col d’Eze.
Contador, Porte and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), who was a member of the day long breakaway, led over the Col d’Eze and bombed down the descent into Nice with the trio driving it to the line. Behind, Thomas was back in contention thanks to teammate Sergio Henao and once on the Promenade des Anglais, it was clear it would be the Welshman taking the win by just six seconds as Wellens sprinted to the stage, taking the crucial bonus seconds on the line.
Thomas becomes the third Team Sky rider to win Paris-Nice, following in the footsteps of Richie Porte (2013-15) and Bradley Wiggins (2012).
Contador and Porte joined Thomas on the podium with Matthews winning the points classification and Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie) the mountains classification.
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