Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) won the 4th stage of the Paris-Nice, sprinting to the victory ahead of Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Fixall).
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were part of the action all stage as Matthew Brammeier jumped into the early 4-rider break of the day. It was a tough stage with narrow roads and the road going up and down all day. Orica-Greenedge kept a high a tempo which ensured that Brammeier’s quartet didn’t get more than 4-minutes up the road.
It was a good situation for our African Team to have Brammeier in the lead as the team could concentrate on saving energy and protecting Youcef Reguigui for the final. With 35km to go, the peloton had brought back the break just before the race went up the category 2 Cote de Saint-Uze. It was on this 2.8km climb that the race would really spark into life as an injection of pace by Katusha caused a split in the peloton.
Dimension Data for Qhubeka were looking good with Nathan Haas, Youcef Reguigui, Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Serge Pauwels all in the front group. Haas then overcooked a corner and went crashing over a wire fence into a field. Unfortunately our Australian would have to abandon after taking this heavy tumble and was lucky to escape without any severe injuries.
The race went on though with Katusha driving the front pack to a sprint finish. Reguigui, with some good support from Janse van Rensburg, was in the mix once again and went up against the red sprint trains of Katusha and Cofidis. Bouhanni was fastest on the day while Reguigui held on for a credible 9th position.
Youcef Reguigui – Rider
Matthew was in the break so there was no pressure for our team. We stayed in the front, all together and riding well. In the climb I was with Tyler, Jacques and Nathan. At the top there was a split when the wind picked up and Kittel dropped. Katusha then went to the front and really rode full gas which caused another split. I was lucky Jacques was with me and helped to keep me in the front group. I was fighting for the last 10km to get a good position but Kristoff had a lot of teammates and Cofidis also. It’s not easy to fight them for a top 5 position, I had to ride the whole last kilometer at 100%. I am happy with my result and for the team because it is not easy to get a top 10 against the riders here at Paris-Nice. It was an incredible day, from the start to the finish it was hard.