David De La Cruz concludes Paris-Nice in the top 20
After being in the break from the start of the day, the 26-year-old moved two positions in the overall standings.
David De La Cruz rode a great stage on Sunday, when the 74th edition of Paris-Nice came to an end. With his confidence bolstered after Saturday's stage, which helped him jump more than 20 places in the general classification, the 26-year-old decided to go into the huge 22-man breakaway that attacked right from the gun and got a good gap before it reached Nice, when it began to disintegrate. On the penultimate climb, only six riders managed to stay in the lead, and David was one of them, while further back, the peloton saw Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) surging out in an attempt to put pressure on overall leader Geraint Thomas (Sky).
The Spanish rider of Tinkoff was reeled in before Col d'Èze, just as in the leading group David powered away from his breakaway companions. A plethora of attacks of Contador meant that De La Cruz was eventually caught, but even so, he made sure of giving his all on the climb and trying to stick to the favourites' groups. One kilometer from the top of the ascent, Contador accelerated once again, was joined by Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), from the original break, and Richie Porte (BMC), and the three of them managed to put 34 seconds between them and the yellow jersey.
At that point, the 33-year-old was virtual leader in the standings, but Geraint Thomas pulled hard and reduced the gap, so in the end, at the finish in Nice – where Tim Wellens took the stage – he was crowned as winner of the race, just 4 seconds separating him from Contador, with Porte, who rounded out the podium, coming 12 seconds adrift. As for David De La Cruz, he arrived in the stage one minute behind, in 14th place, and moved up to 20th in the general classification.
"It was a really hard day, in which we had hoped the breakaway will go until the end. I did my best, and even though I couldn't go for the victory, I tried to leave my mark on the race, so that's why I attacked on the last climb. I wanted to finish off things with the feeling that I've done everything I could, and must say I'm content with my ride", said David De La Cruz, who also looked back at the 8-stage race: "I had a bit of a cold at the start of Paris-Nice, so it wasn't easy for me during the first days. Just now, in the week-end, I began feeling better, and that's why I could make this jump in the GC. I had good feelings, especially today, and I'm satisfied with the shape and with the level of confidence. These are very important ahead of the Volta a Catalunya, my home race, which I'll ride in the last week of March, and where I want to help my team."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele