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“I feel that we are a big step higher than last year with our teamwork in the sprints. Everything was going well for us, but we had bad luck in the last corner with 1K to go."

Photo: Trek Factory Racing






09.03.2015 @ 19:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

It was a pancake flat first stage at Paris-Nice and only two Frenchmen wanted to play breakaway on a day destined for a mass sprint.


There was little action other than the peloton’s nature breaks on a windless 196.5-kilometer parcours from St Remy-les-Chevreuse to Contres.


That is, until the final 10 kilometers when Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Seche) still had an 80-second gap, forcing the sprinters teams to press the accelerator hard.


At seven kilometers, they held a minute’s lead.



And, at five kilometers it was 42 seconds and still mathematically possible as the sprinters’ teams swarmed the front, flaring wide across the road in single-file, colorful trains all at full-throttle.


But with three kilometers to go the two leaders’ advantage had fallen rapidly to 20 seconds; the straight road into the finish favored the speeding peloton, and the breakaway sputtered to its demise.


As the leading pair was about to be steamrolled with two kilometers of real estate remaining, Trek Factory Racing maneuvered Giacomo Nizzolo to the front.  


When the sprinters kicked into high gear in the final 200 meters Nizzolo had weaseled into fifth wheel, a great position, but in the final punch to the line Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) pulled away and left everyone else scrapping for the minor places.


Giacomo Nizzolo finished fifth, not the result he hoped for, but it was the final corner at one kilometer to go that impaired him from finishing better.


“I feel that we are a big step higher than last year with our teamwork in the sprints,“ said Nizzolo moments after the high-speed finale had ended. “Everything was going well for us, but we had bad luck in the last corner with 1K to go. Some guys braked ahead of us, and Gert [Steegmans] and I had to brake also, and we almost crashed.


“I lost Gert’s wheel and I had to go on my own to the front to get into position, and I spent a lot of energy. Once they started the sprint I was in pretty good position, but I felt the effort that I had to do to a couple hundred meters before."


Despite misfortune spoiling a chance at a better result Nizzolo was upbeat and in good spirits after the race: “When I get the legs, my best shape, with this team and how they are riding this year, I think we can win a lot. I really feel that we are in a good way.”


Stage two should again favor the sprinters and give Trek Factory Racing another stab at the mass sprint with Giacomo Nizzolo.


There were no changes to the top order of the GC and Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick Step) will continue to ride in the leader’s jersey for another day.



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