The 1st stage of Paris-Nice ended in a photo-finish that was won by Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ). Gorka Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) placed second followed by Christophe Laporte (Cofidis).
The first stage of Paris-Nice started in Chatou and ended in Meudon, with only three category 3 climbs through the 135km stage. The final 1,9km up the cobbled Avenue du Château provided a gripping end to the stage. For Team Dimension Data, the aim for the day was to get Tom-Jelte Slagter into a good position for the final 5,4% gradient climb to the finish line.
A trio of Pierre Rolland (EF-Drapac), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Samsic) and Jurgen Roelandts (BMC Racing) made an early escape within the first 8kms. While the rain continued intermittently through the day, the teams of Quick-Step and Groupama-FDJ kept the breakaway at a safe distance, only letting the clock stretch to a lead of 3 and a half minutes.
The break were brought back with 13.5km to go and the teams started to line-up up at the front of the peloton, positioning their leaders for the final. With the wet roads, a crash in the final km’s interrupted the tempo of the race and our own rider, Tom-Jelte Slagter was caught just behind the crash.
The crash disrupted Tom’s momentum and he was not able to get into a strong position to contest the stage subsequently. The final 1.9km climb did add excitement to the finale, with the sprint ending in a photo finish, that was won by Arnaud Demare. Natnael Berhane was the best placed rider for our African team, finishing in 37th place, just 11 seconds down.
Natnael Berhane- Rider
“The stage started in really terrible weather. A lot of rain and I was really freezing, but as the stage went on I warmed up and the rain thankfully stopped. Today our plan was for Tom, to deliver him in a good position for the final climb. There was a crash right before the start of the climb and I went to the left and I could miss it, Tom was just unlucky to be on the right side. He didn’t crash but he lost all his speed to try not crash. I had to keep going because the final had started. I wasn’t in a good position when the climb began, because I passed many riders in the climb to get back to the front group but then I was on my limit before the sprint and just lost contact by 11 seconds. The feeling in the legs is good so I hope for something much better in the next day’s.”