Kooij outwits favourites to take Paris-Nice lead

March 3 rd 2024 - 17:05

Already a stage winner last year on Paris-Nice, Olav Kooij (Visma-Lease a Bike) made it two on Sunday when he surged on the line to outsprint pre-race favourite Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) in Les Mureaux. The Dutchman, one of few sprinters able to stay in the front despite the bumpy terrain, made the most of the day to seize the yellow jersey ahead of a sprint stage to Montargis on Monday. In-form New Zealander Laurence Pithie was third in the 157.7-km ride which saw the GC contenders battle it out in the finale, Remco Evenepoel showing a lot of ambition in the last two hills of the day. Other stage’s laurels went to Germany’s Jonas Rutsch (EF-Esaypost) who took the KOM lead thanks to the points collected on the day’s three-man break.

Extended Highlights - Stage 1 - Paris-Nice 2024

Three from the gun

The real start was given at 13:15 to 154 riders. Three riders, Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies), Stefan Bissegger and Jonas Rutsch (both EF Education-Easypost), attacked from the gun. Two of them – Bissegger and Burgaudeau – were former stage winners. In the third category climb of Bazemont (Km 12.9), Burgaudeau collected three points ahead of Rutsch and Bissegger. The gap was then at 2:35. It reached a maximum of three minutes after an hour or racing, when the peloton, led by Mads Pedersen’s Lidl-Trek team-mates took the chase in their hands.

Rutsch takes KOM points

The gap went down to 1:30 when the three escapees reached Cote d’Herbeville (Km 90.8) at the top of which Rutsch outsprinted Burgaudeau for the three points. The battle between the three was hard-fought and Rutsch just had enough energy left to outpace Burgaudeau on the second ascent of Cote de Bazemont to add three points to his tally while the peloton was reeling the break in. In the process, Bissegger was dropped by the pack.

The Evenepoel show

The peloton regrouped to tackle the finale, and especially the bonus sprint in Montainville (km 140) awarding six seconds to the first rider on the line. All the GC contenders moved to the front but Matteo Jorgenson (Visma-Lease a Bike) was the first in action and he took the other leaders off-guard to seize the bonus ahead of Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick Step) and Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers). After the sprint, Evenepoel decided to go ahead with Jorgenson and three other riders, but the peloton reacted. In the last climb of the day (Km 145.3), Egan Bernal was the first on the move, but was quickly counter-attacked by Evenepoel, who went again, this time followed by Primoz Roglic (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Finn Fisher-Black (UAE Team), who took the KOM points.

Turgis goes

France’s Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) took advantage of a lull to attack with 10 km to go and quickly led the pack by 15 seconds. But the bunch gathered forces again and the Frenchman was reined in with 2 km to go. The hilly final stretch was decisive, as planned, and Mads Pedersen’s Lidl-Trek team-mates seized the reins. The former world champion was the first in action but surged a little bit too early and was pipped on the line by Kooij.


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