Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka showed tenacity on the last stage of Paris-Nice with Serge Pauwels (photo) putting in a strong performance at the front.
Despite the distance of just 115 km, the riders were in for a very hard day with no less than five categorized climbs to overcome. Early on the stage, a big break of 22 riders, including Pauwels, got away. The group quickly established a gap of four minutes on the peloton but as the teams of the GC riders started to up the pace, the gap came down quickly.
On the penultimate climb, with still 50 km to go, Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) attacked, which completely blew the race apart. The breakaway crumbled and soon, only a handful of riders were left at the front.
Pauwels did well to stay in the group of the yellow jersey, Sergio Henao (Team Sky), but on the final kilometers of the last ascent, our 33-year-old strong Belgian had to let go and keep his own pace towards the finishing line. Pauwels crossed the line in 30th place, while David de la Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) took the win. Henao won the race overall.