The 110th edition of Paris Tours saw Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-Quickstep) ride away from the sprinters in the finishing straight to take the victory. Arnaud Demare (FDJ) was 2nd and 3rd place went to Jonas van Genechten (IAM Cycling).
The 252km French one day race would be a fast affair as the flat course lent itself perfectly to the big sprint teams. An early 7 rider breakaway animated the early part of the race but Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, Cofidis, FDJ and Etixx-Quickstep all sent riders to the head of the peloton to contribute to the pace making which kept the gap under control. We had Jay Thomson and Johann van Zyl doing the lion share of the work in the wind for our African team.
The race was run at a high pace with the average speed over 47km/h for the full 252km. At such speeds, it was difficult for the breakaway to stay ahead and in the end, with 15km to go, they were brought back into the fold. There was a few late attacks, the most threatening coming from Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) but our Italian, Kristian Sbaragli covered that move and it was clear that the sprinters would decide the race.
Mark Cavendish was being looked after by our African Team for the finale but it was a rather disorganised sprint with teams constantly swapping control in the last kilometers. Coming into the finishing straight, Cavendish was coming from deep with good speed but Gaviria surprised all by jumping with 700m to go. The Colombian showed good strength to get a gap and then was able to hold it all the way to the line. With the victory sewn up meters before the line was reached, Cavendish sat up to roll across the line in 6th.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
They changed the course to favour the sprinters going to World Champs so it was pretty clear with so many sprinters here the race would be controlled. It is a race where wind can play a role but today there was very little wind. After 40km 7 riders from teams without sprinters broke away. We did not leave a big gap, the maximum advantage was 4 minutes. Even though there wasn’t much wind, when there was it was a tailwind so it was better to keep it under close control. With 40km to go we rode on the front for Cavendish, in the final he was a bit behind after being boxed in on the last corner. Demare slowed down the sprint when Gaviria went so some guys also came around him near the line but it was a good test for him, showing he is over his illness ahead of the World Championships.