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"The whole stage was all about the last climb. It was a short, but steep one. The worst was the fight for position just before we hit the climb. I was in a good position so I could stay with the best guys," Velits says

Photo: BMC Racing Team (Continuum Sports, LLC)

PARIS - NICE

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PETER VELITS

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13.03.2014 @ 10:38 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After the loss of Tejay van Garderen, BMC have been forced to rethink their plans for Paris-Nice. With Greg Van Avermaet and Peter Stetina both losing time in yesterday's hilly stage, the role of GC captain is now on the shoulders of Peter Velits who was one of the 10 first riders at the top of the Cote du Mont Brouilly in yesterday's stage.

 

Peter Velits notched the BMC Racing Team's third straight top 10 result at Paris-Nice Wednesday, finishing seventh on a day that saw the overall lead change hands again.  The climb of the Côte du Mont Brouilly, 14 kilometers from the end of the 201.5-km stage, would prove to be the decisive point of the race. Only three kilometers in length, the ascent presented an average gradient of 8.4 percent.


One of three riders from the Stage 3 breakaway – Perrig Quemeneur (Team Europcar) was part of a four-man escape that formed after 11 kilometers and was not brought back until the foot of Mont Brouilly with 18 km left. Joining Quemeneur in the breakaway was Valerio Agnoli (Astana Pro Team), Laurent Didier (Trek Factory Racing) and Jesus Harrada (Movistar Team).

Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) attacked midway up Mont Brouilly and soloed over the top, but was joined on the descent by Geraint Thomas (Team Sky). The two worked together to hold off a  chase group of 14 that contained Velits.

 

Slagter out-sprinted Thomas to take the stage win five seconds before Velits's group arrived. Three more BMC Racing Team riders – Greg Van Avermaet (36th), Peter Stetina (52nd) and Amaël Moinard (56th) – finished in the second chase group a further 13 seconds back.

For the second straight day, the race lead changed hands. Thomas moved ahead of previous yellow jersey wearer John Degenkolb (Team Giant-Shimano) by three seconds, while Slagter moved into third, four seconds back. Velits, in 16th, is 19 seconds off the lead and the BMC Racing Team's best-placed rider overall.

"The whole stage was all about the last climb," Velits said. "It was a short, but steep one. The worst was the fight for position just before we hit the climb. I was in a good position so I could stay with the best guys. But Tom-Jelte Slagter and Geraint Thomas got away after the climb.

 

"The group (behind) was not really organized. No one wanted to chase. There were a few attacks and I also tried a few times to attack, but it was not always productive. In the sprint, I just did my best."

"Today was the first day for the GC (general classification)," sports director Yvon Ledanois said. "It was difficult for a lot of riders. Tomorrow will also be hard, but it will be better for the team. Now, we have Peter Velits, Peter Stetina and Greg for the GC – also Greg for the breakaway. And Amaël and Taylor (Phinney) working for the team. I am happy. It wasn't a bad day. It will be better tomorrow."

 

You can read a preview of stage 5 here and follow our live coverage at 14.25 CET on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

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