Nairo Quintana blasts rivals to win Tirreno-Adriatico stage four; Thomas second, Yates third

Queen stage of 2017 Tirreno-Adriatico won by Nairo Quintana, with British riders Geraint Thomas second and Adam Yates third

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) looked head-and-shoulders above his general classification rivals in Tirreno-Adriatico on Saturday, winning the Italian race’s high mountain stage with a solo attack to take the overall lead.

British riders Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) had animated the action on the final climb to Terminillo, launching attacks to fragment the group of overall contenders. Thomas finished second, with Yates in third.

Thanks to his win, Colombian Quintana has overhauled Australian Rohan Dennis (BMC) at the top of the overall standings with Yates moving up to second at 33 seconds and leads the best young rider classification. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) is third overall.

The big climbing stage of the race had kicked off  with a break consisting of Davide Ballerini (Androni Giocattoli), Romain Gioux (Novo Nordisk), Marko Kump (UAE Team Emirates), Matvey Mamykin (Katusha-Alpecin), Alan Marangoni (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Mirco Maestri (Bardiani CSF).

The six riders were allowed some leeway during the stage, as it made its way towards the big showdown on the long climb to Terminillo.

Ballerini and Mamykin were the last two riders to survive from the escape group, but disaster struck on a gravelly corner as Mamykin slid out. The Russian slid straight across the road, under a roadside barrier and down a bank. Amazingly, he appeared largely unscathed and remounted before being caught by the bunch.

With no assistance, Ballerini was also soon caught as the pace started to be wound up by the GC riders’ teams. As the bunch was being whittled down by the pace, Michal Kiwatkowski (Team Sky), Simon Spilak (Katusha-Alpecin) and Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) broke free.

>>> Tirreno-Adriatico 2017: Latest news, reports and info

Spilak looked the strongest, and dropped his two companions to go solo with 5km to go. The bunch’s speed was evidently too much for Astana leader Fabio Aru, who was dropped.

Yates and Thomas both put in accelerations, further fragmenting the GC contenders group. All the while, Quintana marked the main moves. Both Thomas and Quintana benefitted from being joined by their team-mates from the break.

Quintana bided his time, and attacked with 2km to go, passing Spilak and with Thomas in pursuit. Yates rode behind them alongside Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) with Dennis putting in a strong ride to restrict his time losses.

No one was going to catch Quintana, though, who simply rode away to take the victory on Terminillo – just as he did in 2015, but this time without the accompanying snowstorm.

Thomas came in just 18 seconds behind Quintana, and must be ruing Sky’s time loss in the opening team time trial due to technical problems which have prevented him from sitting in a podium position. He now sits in eighth overall, 1-23 adrift of Quintana – though he can console himself with that stage two victory.

After the finish, Quintana said: “I wasn’t sure of what I could do today as I had been sick a few days ago but our tactic was to have someone ahead before I launched my attack and that’s what happened with Castroviejo. The advantage I have on GC now is significant. It gives me some confidence ahead of the second half of the race.”

On Sunday, the riders will tackle a lumpy stage from Rieti to Fermo – ideal terrain for the classics focussed riders such as Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). The race concludes on Tuesday with an individual time trial.

Result

Tirreno-Adriatico 2017, stage four: Montaldo di Castro to Terminillo, 177km
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, in 5-27-22
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, at 18 secs
3. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, at 24 secs
4. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac, at same time
5. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin, at 29 secs
6. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 41 secs
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale
8. Mikel Landa (Esp) Team Sky, at same time
9. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, at 46 secs
10. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 51 secs

General classification after stage four
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, in 16-34-46
2. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, at 33 secs
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, at 56 secs
4. Jonathan Castroviejo (Esp) Movistar, at 1-01
5. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing, at 1-06
6. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 1-19
7. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 1-19
8. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, at 1-23
9. Daniel Moreno (Esp) Movistar, at 1-27
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 1-29


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World champion Amalie Dideriksen wins Ronde van Drenthe; Alice Barnes sixth

British rider Alice Barnes places sixth as Amalie Dideriksen takes her first victory of 2017 in the Ronde van Drenthe, Netherlands

Amalie Dideriksen once again showed maturity beyond her years, winning the Ronde van Drenthe, the second round of the Women’s WorldTour in the Netherlands on Saturday. The 20-year-old world champion patiently negotiated the four-woman sprint, winning with apparent ease ahead of Elena Cecchini and Lucinda Brand.

The victory was her own, and her Boels-Dolmans team’s, first win of the year.

With 20km to ride the Danish rider escaped Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM), Brand (Team Sunweb) and Strade Bianche winner, Elisa Longo-Borghini (Wiggle High5). Once clear, the group built a gap of around 15 seconds and cooperated well to hold off seven chasers, including strong sprinters Marianne Vos (WM3 Energie), Chloe Hosking (Alé-Cipollini) and British rider Alice Barnes (Drops.)

At 152km – by 25km the longest race of the season so far – the event was the first to take advantage of new UCI regulations allowing longer women’s races. Though the extra distance might have inspired cautious racing, it is more likely the early lack of wind which normally blows across the flat countryside, had most impact, making for a dull opening.

Though the peloton was stretched after 10km on the approach to the first of three ascents of the VAMberg – a short but steep climb over a landfill site – there was little action in the opening 50km.

Other than that climb and the otherwise flat terrain, the event is characterised by its sectors of cobbles. However, while a stretch of 33km, 13 of which were pavé, caused a split in the peloton, it failed to have a significant impact.

Instead it was high pace after the final sector, with 84km ridden, which caused the most damage, leaving a group of around 50 riders – just under half the peloton – to tackle the second ascent of the VAMberg, 113km in.

With the wind now blowing, a period of aggressive racing punctuated the five kilometres between climbs, and on the second former world time trial champion Ellen van Dijk attacked, dragging with her 15 chasers, including British riders Hannah and Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM and Drops respectively).

While van Dijk’s advantage built to over 30 seconds, last year’s dominant team, Boels-Dolmans were well represented and were left the close the gap, further tearing the group to pieces. By the time the Dutchwoman was caught, with 20km to go only 15 riders remained.

Here, rather than cover attacks Boels-Dolmans took the initiative, launching repeated counter-attacks from which the winning quartet was formed.

The result is the culmination of excellent team tactics by Boels-Dolmans, who once again proved their immense strength.

“It was the longest race I have ever done and I didn’t know how I would feel,” Dideriksen said after her victory. “ My team mates rode so well out there, when Ellen van Dijk was in the breakaway earlier they chased her back with me sitting on and saving myself for the sprint.

“It shows what a great team we are, we have some really strong riders and we had a lot of cards to play.”

The third round of the Women’s WorldTour takes place next week in Italy, where the peloton will contest the Trofeo Alfredo Binda near Milan, a race won by Lizzie Deignan for the last two years.

Result

Ronde van Drenthe, Women’s WorldTour, 152km

1. Amalie Dideriksen (Den) Boels-Dolmans, in 3-51-17
2. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM
3. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Team Sunweb, at same time
4. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-High5, at 2 secs
5. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-Scott, at 7 secs
6. Jolien D’Hoore (Bel) Wiggle-High5, at 9 secs
7. Marianne Vos (Ned) WM3 Energie
8. Alice Barnes (GBr) Drops
9. Chantal Blaak (Ned) Boles-Dolmans
10. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Alé-Cipollini, all at same time


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Scott Thwaites ‘very likely’ to debut in Milan-San Remo with Mark Cavendish

Yorkshireman Scott Thwaites likely to join fellow Brits Mark Cavendish and Steve Cummings in Dimension Data’s line-up for Milan-San Remo

Scott Thwaites will “very likely” race Milan-San Remo for the first time with Dimension Data captain and fellow British rider Mark Cavendish next Saturday (March 18). The team is planning to give him the green light to race the Italian monument ahead of the cobbled classics.

Thwaites previewed the final kilometres of Milan-San Remo on Monday with Cavendish and Edvald Boasson Hagen, the leaders for the race with Steve Cummings.

“Scott Thwaites is on the list for San Remo, that’s not going to be a huge secret,” performance manager Rolf Aldag told Cycling Weekly on Saturday morning ahead of the Terminillo stage in Tirreno-Adriatico.

“He has the talent and characteristics for San Remo. It fits him to be part of the team and help us to success, hopefully.”

Aldag said it is “very likely” the team will select Thwaites in its eight-man roster when the management meets on Sunday evening in Italy.

>>> ‘Cav is pushing me to get results in the big races’

The 2009 winner Cavendish will be one of three leaders for Dimension Data with Boasson Hagen and Cummings. The team needs multiple options in case the race does not arrive in a small bunch finish on Via Roma.

“We have multiple options for San Remo. We have different leaders for different situations. It’ll be clear once we get out of the Poggio, counting the cyclists there and if Cav is there, we go for Cav,” Aldag explained.

“We won’t bother with the escapes, just being ready at the key points: Cipressa, Poggio, Via Roma.”

Aldag speaks regularly with the team directors in France with Dimension Data’s Paris-Nice team. The cold weather and rain took their toll on the cyclists. As a result, the majority of the team could come from the central Italy group racing Tirreno-Adriatico.

San Remo will be another big step in Thwaites’s career. Over the last years with Bora, he already had a chance to race the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. He placed 20th in the Flemish monument last year.

Dimension Data signed him over the off-season to ride alongside Norwegian Boasson Hagen so that it has multiple options.

“For sure, he was a key guy there. He’s not going to be peaking for San Remo, but in the build up phase,” added Aldag.

“There was a gap from Edvald last year in the cobbled classics. Bernie Eisel had a broken collarbone. Out of a group of 25, we should race with Boasson Hagen and Thwaites. Then we have much more to play with then just say, Edvald gambling it all on following Tom Boonen or whoever.”


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‘The Giro d’Italia will leave its mark on Nairo Quintana’

Insiders say that attempting to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in one season is just not possible, and comment on how the attempt may affect Nairo Quintana

The Giro d’Italia, and the possible win, will leave its mark on Nairo Quintana (Movistar) when the Tour de France starts one month later say cycling insiders.

The Colombian is trying to win the Giro/Tour this year after already being successful in all three Grand Tours. However, it has been 19 years – since 1998 – that anyone has been able to pull off the double. Some say that it is now impossible in modern cycling.

“Physiology says that you can have two peaks in one year, but it’s not possible in the Giro/Tour time frame, maybe between the Giro and the Vuelta [a España], yes,” trainer for Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Paolo Slongo told Cycling Weekly.

“Or you just have one peak of 100 per cent over that three-month period. If Quintana wants to race the Giro and the Tour, maybe he shouldn’t be at 100 per cent for the Giro so that he can do so at the Tour.”

The Giro starts on May 5 in Sardinia and ends on May 28 in Milan. The Tour de France begins 34 days later on July 1.

The Giro d’Italia organiser has been successful in attracting an all-star cast to its 100th edition this year. Every major classification star but Chris Froome (Sky), Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Romain Bardet (Ag2r) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) will be in Sardinia.

And they will race immediately, with the Giro featuring its first summit finish on Mount Etna on stage four.

>>> Nairo Quintana ‘not going to the Giro d’Italia just to train for the Tour de France’

“Last year, going for the double would’ve been ideal because the Giro became harder near the end so that you could have good form towards the end of the Giro and take it all the way to the Tour,” Slongo said.

“This year, to have form to handle the Giro right off on stage four, I think it’s impossible to maintain that winning form through the Tour as well.”

Chris Froome (right) and Nairo Quintana during the 2016 Tour de France. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

BMC Racing’s Max Sciandri will direct the team with Rohan Dennis and Tejay van Garderen in the Giro this May.

“I don’t want to say nothing’s impossible, but given how the races are designed…” said Sciandri. “The Giro is difficult with the two islands to start off with, demanding roads… It’s not easy.

“You can have two peaks. But when you have a peak and win the Giro, it leaves a mark on you. Yes, OK you won, but it takes something away from that second peak. That’s how I see it, but nothing’s impossible.”

Quintana placed second in his first Tour de France in 2013 behind Froome. He went to Italy the following year and won the 2014 Giro, the first Colombian to do so. He returned to the Tour, but placed second in 2015 and third in 2016. In the 2016 Vuelta, seven weeks after the Tour ended in Paris, he toppled Froome for the Spanish title.

Movistar said that if all goes as planned in the Giro, he will remain in Europe before the Tour. He will stay at his home in Monaco, perhaps spend some time at an altitude training camp, and preview some Tour stages.

“We need to see,” Movistar general manager Eusebio Unzué said when asked if a rider can have two peaks in fitness so close together. “That’s what we are going to try to do, but let’s see what happens. Normally, yes because we’ve done it with the Tour and Vuelta.

“He’ll come to the Giro in good shape. 100 per cent? Well, given the roads and stages, he can’t not come in 100 per cent because if he drops his guard the race will slip away from him.”


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Jess Varnish considering legal action against British Cycling

Former British track sprinter Jess Varnish considering action against British Cycling for breach of contract as details emerge of independent report in culture at the organisation

Jess Varnish’s lawyer is preparing to take legal action against British Cycling after it has emerged that the independent review into the culture at the organisation found that her dismissal from the Olympic programme was “an act of retribution” against “a trouble maker”.

Varnish was dropped from the World Class Performance Programme last April ahead of the Rio Olympics and shortly after said she had been subject to sexism and discrimination by then British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton.

Her complaint was later upheld in part but it led to a wider review of the culture at the organisation, which is yet to be published.

However, on Friday the Daily Mail published excerpts of what it said is a leaked draft version of the report, which said: “In the situation involving Jess Varnish the panel did not find explanations convincing from coaching staff that she could go from being a borderline Olympian (in fact, potentially an Olympic medallist) to not being good enough . . . within a week.

“An athlete would have to have been given a warning and also a reasonable period to improve before removal. Varnish was not given a warning or any period of time to improve. She was simply removed.”

It adds: “The panel did not view her removal as an act of discrimination but in the panel’s view it was on balance an act of retribution and also not contractual due process.”

Speaking to the BBC on Friday, Varnish said that she has instructed her lawyer to pursue the possibility of legal action for breach of contract.

Jess Varnish with Victoria Pendleton at the 2012 Track World Cup. Photo: Andy Jones

“It is something I’ve asked my lawyers to take a really close look at,” Varnish said. “Until the main report is released that’s all we can do, take a look at it. It’s never been about money for me, it’s just about doing the right thing.”

The track sprinter signed an British Cycling Podium Programme Athlete Agreement in November 2015, just months before she was dropped, which said British Cycling would “ensure the highest ethical and professional standards from all staff”.

Simon Fenton, partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, who represents Varnish said: “It [the athlete agreement she signed] is a bit vague but basically it says we will treat you with fairness and respect. And it does appear that the investigation has uncovered a lack of fairness and respect and seems to suggest, from what I’ve seen, that she was removed from the programme for reasons unrelated to her performance.

“That has denied her the real possibility of winning an Olympic medal, and obviously there would be ongoing sponsorship opportunities from that, for reasons that are simply unfair.”

Fenton added that nothing would happen until him and Varnish had seen the full report but that based on what he had seen the national body should expect “a writ fairly soon afterwards”.

>>> Everything you need to know about the British Cycling/Sky mystery package saga

He added: “At the moment it looks pretty overwhelming… It will take a strong court to go against the conclusions of a long thorough investigation they would have good reason to decide the UK Sport investigation was wrong.”

Varnish told the BBC that she feels as though she has been ‘thrown under the bus’ by British Cycling, but is relieved that the contents of the leaked report support her allegations.

“I feel vindicated in a way that the truth is coming out but you obviously can’t turn back the clock,” Varnish said. “All I want is the truth to be out there because it’s the truth and that’s what people should know.

“I’ve been pulled from pillar to post. Just to get this stage and see that it’s a cover-up is huge.”

She continued: “I think the facts say it for themselves. If they’re overturning facts just to protect themselves and to protect the look of British Cycling. It’s a lot easier for them to throw me under the bus rather than the whole of British Cycling and for the actual truth to come out.”

Varnish has previously said that she wishes to return to the Olympic programme.

British Cycling has been contacted for comment for this article.


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Tirreno-Adriatico: Quick-Step Floor riders angry, disappointed after high-speed pileup

The Quick-Step Floors team was hoping Fernando Gaviria could win for a second consecutive year on stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico in Montalto di Castro but the Colombian sprinter, Tom Boonen and the team’s overall hope Bob Jungels were all caught up in a late crash with a kilometre to go. The team could only roll to the finish several minutes after Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) had got the better of Elia Viviani (Team Sky).

The crash occurred just inside the final kilometre. On a straight section of road, Jasper Stuyven bumped with Eduard Grosu of Nippo-Fantini Vini. Grosu went down hard, suffering some nasty road rash, with his bike somersaulting in the air in front of Gaviria, Boonen and the rest of the peloton. They tried to brake but apparently hit the fallen bike and Grosu, causing them to crash.

Fortunately neither were seriously hurt but they were angry. Teammate Matteo Trentin saw the crash and went to have a word with Andrea Palini of Androni Giocattoli after the sprint, but it is unclear if he had caused the crash.

Gaviria reached the finish with the back of his skinsuit shredded. He quickly took a drink and got directions to the team’s nearby hotel from a soigneur and then rode off, preferring to shrug off the consequences of the crash and the missed chance of victory.

Boonen arrived a little later and stopped to talk to the Belgian media, who were anxious to learn of any injuries – he already crashed hard at the Tour of Oman and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Boonen had a nasty looking gash on his right knee but played down his problems.

“I don’t know exactly what happened, you guys probably saw more than I saw,” Boonen said. “Fortunately I don’t have anything, I’m not hurt. But I lost some skin on my new skin that was on my right knee. I didn’t really go down; I fell over the guy in front of me. I kicked him in his head as I was crashing.”

Boonen explained the dynamic of the crash.

“We were in the top 15 positions, with Fernando well placed on my wheel, biding our time to move to the front. Suddenly, two guys crashed in front of me, and I couldn’t avoid them. Fernando too went to the ground, and at that point, our stage was over. It’s a real pity because we were in a good position and Fernando could have done a good sprint.”

Boonen admitted he is perhaps taking risks by getting involved in the sprints but refused to hide at the back of the peloton until he retires after the Belgian Classics.

“If you are in front, if you sprint at the front, playing for the win, then, of course, there’s a little more chance that you can crash or something. If you let it go and you finish in 105th position, then you don’t risk things, but I want to play my role for the team,” he explained.

Bob Jungels was also caught up in the crash but was given the same time as Peter Sagan because the wreck occurred in the final three kilometres. He remains sixth overall, in best young rider’s white jersey, just 16 seconds behind race leader Rohan Dennis (BMC). He is determined to fight for an overall result on Saturday’s big mountain stage to the ski resort of Monte Terminillo that is expected to decide the overall classification of this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico.

“It was a tense final, made even more dangerous by the downhill and the strong wind. We were in a good position, but we went down in that pileup, and that was that. I’m happy this day is over,” Jungels said.

“Tomorrow I’ll see how I feel at the start of the stage to Monte Terminillo, which is quite a hard climb, and what I can do there.”

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Simon Yates ‘not trying to win the stage’ as he climbs up Paris-Nice GC

Orica-Scott rider said he attacked to take time in the overall standings

Simon Yates’s stage win at Paris-Nice was his first of the 2017 season, but this was not the primary objective when the Orica-Scott rider attacked on the penultimate climb of the day.

Despite coming into the day in 16th place overall, more than two minutes behind race leader Julian Alaphilippe, Yates said that his first thoughts were to attack to climb up GC and put himself in a better position going into a difficult final weekend, rather than chasing a stage win.

“I was not trying to win the stage,” Yates said after his win. “I was trying to take as much time back as possible as I had good legs today.”

>>> Simon Yates attacks rivals to win Paris-Nice stage six

The 24-year-old was able to take a lead of 45 seconds onto the final climb in Fayence, as a elite group led by Team Sky didn’t chase the Briton down.

“I might be a bit more closely marked now. One of the reasons I got away today was because I’m so far behind.

“There are a lot of guys closer and nobody was really watching me, but maybe they will be tomorrow and the day after.”

Yates sees opportunities to move further up the GC on tomorrow’s summit finish on the Col de Couillole, as well as on the final day around Nice, which features six classified climbs.

>>> Paris-Nice 2017: Latest news, interviews, photos, and videos

However, despite moving into eighth place overall, he is still 1-37 behind race leader Julian Alaphilippe, and thinks the Frenchman will be the one to take final victory, despite having three riders (Tony Gallopin, Sergio Henao, and Gorka Izaguirre) within a minute of the lead.

“I think Alaphilippe will hold on. He’s a phenomenal rider – I raced him when I was younger, and even then I could see he was a hell of a talent. It will be difficult to dislodge him, but we can only try.

“He has a strong team there, but hopefully he’s tired after being in the lead. It’s a difficult climb tomorrow from what I’ve seen. We can only try.”


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Simon Yates attacks rivals to win Paris-Nice stage six

British rider Simon Yates takes his first victory of the season, as Julian Alaphilippe fights to keep his Paris-Nice overall lead

Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) launched a stinging solo attack during stage six of 2017 Paris-Nice on Friday to net the victory and move up into the top 10 overall.

Yates made his move on the climb-filled stage from a lead group of around 25 riders just before the summit of the second pass of the Col de Bourigaille with 18 kilomeres left to go. The remnants of the day’s eight-man escape group – Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo) and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) – had been caught just a couple of kilometres before.

None of the main favourites reacted to Yates’s move, including race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors). As Yates crested the climb and hit the twisting descent, he quickly built up a significant lead.

Despite a concerted chase behind from the favourites’ group led by Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) – working for Sergio Henao – and Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing) – working for Richie Porte – Yates continued to gain time.

>>> Paris-Nice 2017: Latest news, reports and info

By the base of the final 1.3km climb to Fayence, Yates had 45 seconds in hand.

As the chasers hit the climb, Porte was the first to attack, dragging Alaphilippe with him and with Henao in close attendance.

Porte and Alaphilippe faded as they reached the steepest section of the ascent, and were passed by Henao, who accelerated ahead – but it was too late for the Colombian national champion to overhaul Yates, as the British rider crossed the line with his hands in the air.

Henao came home for second place, 17 seconds behind Yates, with Porte settling for third at 26 seconds.

Alaphilippe staged a comeback aided by team-mate Dan Martin to finish in fourth place and retain his position in the yellow jersey. Martin appeared to sacrifice gaining any time for himself, waving Alaphilippe through to take the higher placing.

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) finished in eighth place, at 32 seconds, and now sits seventh overall.

Yates’s move means he now moves up to eighth overall, one minute and 37 seconds behind Alaphilippe. Having lost time in the weather-affected opening stages of the race, Yates said after the finish that he had to try something to claw back time.



“I said to myself why not, I have nothing to lose,” Yates explained. “If I get caught, I get caught. I tried and it worked.

“It’s one of the biggest races to do, one of the hardest. I’m sure happy to win again, my first of the season. I’m still quite far behind [on GC], so it will be hard to take the time back. We’ll see what happens.”

Yates will not have to wait long for another climbing challenge, as the race hits the highest point in its history on Saturday’s stage seven, with a finale atop the first category climb of Col de la Couillole. The 2017 edition of Paris-Nice concludes on Sunday, March 12.

Result

Paris-Nice 2017, stage six: Aubagne to Fayence, 192 km
1. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, in 4-37-51
2. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, at 17 secs
3. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, at 26 secs
4. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, at 29 secs
5. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors, at same time
6. Jon Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 32 secs
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
8. Alberto Contador (Esp) Trek-Segafredo
9. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
10. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal, all same time

General classification after stage six
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, in 21-58-22
2. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal, at 36 secs
3. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, at 46 secs
4. Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, at 57 secs
5. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors, at 1-20
6. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin, at 1-31
7. Alberto Contador (Esp) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-34
8. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, at 1-37
9. Jon Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 2-04
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb, at 3-08


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Peter Sagan sprints to Tirreno-Adriatico stage three win as crash disrupts finale

Sagan beat Elia Viviani to the line on the third stage of the Italian race

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) took his squad’s second WorldTour victory as he sprinted to the win on the third stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.

A crash in the final 500 metres of the race split the peloton, leaving many sprinters like Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) out of contention for the win.

Team Sky put in the best lead out for their sprinter Elia Viviani on the winding and slightly undulating run to the finish with the Italian launching his effort for the line first.

He wasn’t able to do anything about the power of world champion Sagan though, who roared out of the bunch behind Viviani and left him over a bike length behind as he took his first WorldTour win of the season.

Sagan had complained of illness earlier this week, abandoning Strade Bianche last weekend, but appears to be back on top form as he builds towards the spring Classics.

BMC’s Rohan Dennis took over the lead in the overall rankings, finishing ahead of his teammate Greg Van Avermaet who wore the leader’s blue jersey into the stage start.

The stage’s main activity had been dominated by Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Mattia Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli), Andrei Grivko (Astana), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), Luca Wackermann (Bardiani-CSF), Luri Filosi and Kohei Uchima (Nippo-Vini Fantini), who formed the early break of the day and established a maximum 3-00 gap.

As the sprinters teams began to work a bit harder in the bunch, just Gougeard, Grivko and Filosi remained with around 35km to go.

Things broke up further and Folosi dangled out on his own with around 10 seconds on the bunch with 21km to go, before getting caught close to 19km remaining, with a sprint finish setup.

Sagan and the other sprinters will need to wait a bit longer for another chance at victory though, as the race heads into its queen stage on Saturday with a 171km ride to the summit finish on the Terminillo.

Results

Tirreno-Adriatico 2017 stage three, Monterotondo Marittimo – Montalto di Castro (204k)

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 4-51-59
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
3. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
5. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-Scott
6. Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
7. Andrea Palini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
8. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
9. Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Sunweb
10. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Sunweb

General Classfication after stage three

1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team, in 11-07-13
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team


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Watch: Tim Stevens – The Racer (video)

Short film follows former Great Britain rider Tim Stevens as he trains to ride the East Surrey Hardriders time trial, prior to his untimely death in 2016

Former Great Britain cyclist Tim Stevens in the subject of an engaging short film, showing the Surrey rider talking about his career and training for a comeback at the East Surrey Hardriders time trial in 2016 at the age of 55.

Stevens was a well-known and popular figure in time trialling and road racing, and the film includes an interview with former pro cyclist Sean Yates who was a contemporary of Stevens in their early days of racing.

Film-maker Duncan Murdoch wanted to capture Stevens as he prepared for, and raced, the tough early-season time trial that he won on several occasions during his riding career. Stevens also counted several big domestic road race wins in his palmares, and represented Great Britain in the world championships team time trial in 1985.

The film has extra resonance as shortly after filming had finished, Stevens was diagnosed with cancer and died on August 30 2016. The East Surrey Hardriders was his last race.

>>> Obituary: Tim Stevens (1960-2016)

“I contacted him a couple of years ago with the idea for the film,” Murdoch told Cycling Weekly.

“He hadn’t been riding for a while, and just missed racing and wanted to make a comeback. So it all came together. The idea of the film was Tim’s comeback to do the East Surrey Hardriders, and his preparation for that.”

Murdoch added: “I hope it’s true to Tim and his character, and does him justice. He was one of the country’s best cyclists, but because he was not a self-promoter, he went under the radar.”

The film was shown for the first time in front of a public audience at the Maison du Velo bike shop and café in Reigate last Friday, March 3, and is now available to view online.


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