Primoz Roglic knocked down the rest of the field at La Colmiane on Saturday to clinch his third stage victory in the 79th edition of Paris-Nice and strengthen his overall lead with one day to go in the Race to the Sun.
The Slovenian jumped in the last stretch to overtake the last of the escapees, a remarkable Gino Mader (Bahrain-Victorious), on the line after outwitting title-holder Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) who had to settle for third on the line.
The Jumbo-Visma team leader now leads Schachmann by 52 seconds overall while Russian and white jersey holder Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) is third, 1:11 adrift. Roglic is now 92.7-km short of his first Paris-Nice crown.
13 in the lead
The real start was given at 11:43 to 139 riders. Maximilian Walscheid (Qhubeka), Patrick Bevin (Israel-Start-up Nation) and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) did not start. In the Cote de Gilette, a group of thirteen riders emerged, comprising Neilson Powless (EF-Nippo), Andrey Amador and Laurens De Plus (Ineos Grenadiers), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Anthony Perez (Codidis), Julien Bernard and Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), David de la Cruz (UAE), Sam Bennett and Mattia Cataneo (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Dylan Teuns and Gino Mader (Bahrain). Polka-dot jersey holder Anthony Perez was first at the top of the climb, adding five points to his KOM tally.
Perez secures polka-dot
Mads Pedersen (Tresk-Segafredo) chased on his own behind the break until the descent of Col de la Sigale when he gave up and waited for the bunch. Perez took five more points on Col de la Sigale (Km 34.4) as the break led the peloton by 1:45. At that stage, the Frenchman had already secured the definitive polka-dot jersey but he was still first again at the top of Cote de St Antonin (km 47) when the gap reached 2:30. With Cataneo lying 2:01 behind Roglic in the GC, the peloton raised the pace in the long flat section leading to the final ascent.
Mader so close
Sam Bennett led the break relentlessly and also won the first sprint of the day in Tournefort (Km 88) as the gap settled at 1:15 until the bottom of the climb to La Colmiane. As the road went up, Powless, Bernard, Elissonde, Lutsenko, Cattaneo, De la Cruz and Mader dropped their former companions. The skimming continued and Powless, Mader and Elissonde were the last escapees standing with 10 km left in the stage.
Three kilometres further up the road, Mader and Powless were alone to battle it out but the young Swiss was the stronger of the day and he went solo five kilometres from the line. It seemed as if he would go all the way, especially as Roglic seemed to relax after having reeled in an attack by Schachmann under the red flame, but the Slovenian mercilessly surged in the last 200 metres to cross the line in first place and become the first rider since Tom Boonen in 2006 to win three stages in the Race to the Sun. – www.paris-nice.fr