Marc Soler won Paris-Nice for four short seconds. The Spaniard came out of the game to overthrow Simon Yates.
Marc Soler, a 24-year-old Spaniard , did better than his predecessor Alberto Contador to win Paris-Nice on Sunday, reversing the situation on the last day.
Unlike the “Pistolero” who retired at the end of last season, Soler has dethroned the yellow jersey wearer in the last 90 minutes of the “race to the sun”. He finally beat British Simon Yates, the strongest Saturday to finish at the top of the Colmiane, 4 seconds.
Contador, he was beaten by 4 seconds (in 2016) and 2 seconds (in 2017) . That is to say that Paris-Nice continued to justify its trademark, the uncertainty, much more than its other name, the “race to the sun”, on this Sunday of torrential rains during the first part of the stage.
Soler has imitated Contador’s tactics of the previous two years using the springboard of the Peille coast, 48 kilometers from the arrival of this course limited to 110 kilometers but very selective. Generous in the effort, he found help from his two compatriots, David de la Cruz and Omar Fraile, to maintain the gap around the minute on the group of favorites and Simon Yates, lonely in the ultimate ascent.
“We know each other well, I told them to manage for the stage success (which came back like last year in De la Cruz), I was interested in the gap,” said Soler adding that on the morning of the last stage, he thought more of the podium than of victory.
Very narrow margin
“He discovers himself progressively, he progresses each season. Last year, he realized that he could already win a week’s racing.”
Winner in 2015 of the Tour de l’Avenir, the reference race of the category hopes, the young Spaniard has confirmed himself that he still has much to learn. But he has already succeeded to the winners of Paris-Nice to the last two Spanish winners, Alberto Contador (2010) which he describes as “an example for his way of running”, and Luis Leon Sanchez (2009), his usual training companion.
Sixth at the start of the last stage, Soler was more successful than the brothers Gorka and Ion Izagirre, who only had a dozen seconds of the yellow jersey. Gorka capped when the future winner accelerated in the Peille coast and dropped, moreover, in the last descent, training with him his younger brother.
The Belgian Tim Wellens, also able to win, since Yates was unable to keep contact on the slopes of the last climb (part of the Eze pass), could not conclude. It missed him finally 16 seconds, the incredibly narrow margin which separates the first five at the end of the 1198 kilometers.
The main loser of the week, unlike French cycling – four stages out of eight! -, the Sky team did not place any rider in the top rankings (De la Cruz 9th) despite two stage wins. A rarity for the British team that had confiscated five of the six previous editions.