Vlasov steals the show

March 9 th 2024 - 15:35

Aleksandr Vlasov played cat and mouse with the favourites to win stage 7 at the top of La Madone d’Utelle like his compatriot Ilnur Zakarin had done eight years before. The Bora-Hansgrohe rider took advantage of an attack by Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick Step) in the finale to counterattack, go on his own and win the mountain stage of this 82nd edition of the race in which he finished second overall in 2021. Evenepoel outsprinted the group of favourites ahead of Vlasov’s team leader Primoz Roglic. Dropped in the final kilometre, Brandon McNulty (UAE Emirate) still managed to salvage his yellow and white jersey with a slim four-seconds lead over fellow-American Matteo Jorgenson (Visma-Lease a Bike).

Extended Highlights - Stage 7 - Paris-Nice 2024

Two pacesetters
The real start was given at 12:30 to 128 riders. Arnaud Démare (Arkea-B&B Hotels), Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla), Pascal Ackermann and Rick Zabel (Israel-Premier Tech) and Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché) did not start. Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis), Johan Jacobs (Movistar) and Martijn Tusveld (DSM) attacked from the start. Sandy Dujardin (TotalEnergies), Brent Van Moer (Lotto Dstny), Gijs Leemreize (DSM) chased behind them. At the top of the Cote de Gattieres (Km 10.1), Thomas collected the five points shortly before Tusveld dropped back because of a mechanical. After 35 km, Thomas and Jacobs found themselves alone in the front with Ineos Grenadiers leading the chase one minute behind.

Jacobs alone in the lead
In cold and rainy conditions, several riders called it quits: Timo Roosen (DSM), Pierre Latour and Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies)… In the long descent towards Saint-Jean-la-Rivière, as the Soudal-Quick Step team-mates of Remco Evenepoel were leading the way, Harold Tejada (Astana), 9th overall, was halted by a mechanical and lost precious time changing his front wheel. With 35 km to go, Thomas decided to wait for the bunch and Jacobs found himself on his own up the road.  The towering Swiss bravely stayed in the front until the climb to La Madone d’Utelle.

In the climb
Evenepoel changed bikes looking ahead to the final ascent and the peloton trailed Jacobs by 35 seconds when it reached the bottom. The Swiss was reeled in in the first kilometre of the climb as leaders like David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain) were losing ground. Louis Vervaeke (Soudal-Quick Step) led the way up the road until the 8-km-to-go mark when Laurens  de Plus (Ineos Grenadiers) took over. At the intermediate sprint of the day (Km 96.7), Egan Bernal surged and took the 10 points and 6 seconds up for grabs, ahead of Ilan van Wilder and Evenepoel.

McNulty saves jersey
The Belgian champion waited until 4.4 km to launch his attack but Brandon McNulty and Matteo Jorgenson reacted easily. Aleksandr Vlasov seized his chance to counterattack and go on his own. The battle between the GC contenders resumed in the last two kilometeres, when Evenepoel raised the pace again, dropping McNulty and Bernal, but taking Roglic, Jorgenson, Buitrago and Skjelmose with him. The Belgian champion sprinted for second place ahead of Roglic and McNulty crossed the line 30 seconds after Vlasov, to narrowly save his leader’s jersey.    


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