Stage 6 of Paris-Nice proved to be a tough one for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. With 7 categorised climbs and a summit finish at La Madone d’Utelle it was always going to be a hard day in the saddle.
The Maritime Alps characterise the hinterland of Nice and the first climb of the day awaited the peloton only a few kilometres into the race. Our Algerian fast man Youcef Reguigui had to call it quits on the early slopes of the Côte de Gattièrres due to a knee injury he sustained a few days ago. Luck didn’t pick up for our African team with Jacques Janse van Rensburg crashing on the descent of this very climb. The South African finished the race, yet was out of contention for the later stages of the race.
Over the following kilometres a group of 8 riders managed to go clear. Led be Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie) the group built up a lead of around a minute with the Canadian biding his time again with around 30 kilometers to go to move into the KOM lead.
In the peloton Tinkoff controlled the pace for Alberto Contador who finally came to the fore on the last climb. All riders of the former break were reeled back in, when the overall contenders put their cards on the table. After a few attacks by the Spaniard it was Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) who took the win. Geraint Thomas (Sky) denied Contador the second place, earning the yellow jersey of the race leader.
Serge Pauwels was the best place finisher for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka on this tough day. He managed to stay with the favourites until the final climb but couldn’t match their pace in the end.
Alex Sans Vega – Sports Director
We had had hoped for a good race for Serge and Jacques today. However, after the crash we had to change our plans. Jacques was in pain all stage long, but fought to the end. Serge tried to stay with the favorites, but it was a hard task being on his own for most of the race on such a demanding day. Tomorrow this Paris-Nice comes to a close and we hope for more luck then.