Paris-Nice Stage 1: OPQS Pushes Pace & Contests Bunch Sprint to Protect GC Riders
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team worked hard to protect Sylvain Chavanel and Peter Velits — both in the GC top 10 going into the stage — in a 195km flat stage on Monday. Despite some exposed areas where wind animated the race, and some crashes caused by nervousness in the bunch, OPQS was able to keep most of its riders in the front group and go for a top result.
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) won the bunch sprint. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Merida) was 2nd and Elia Viviani (Cannondale) was 3rd. Nikolas Maes and Chavanel were 11th and 12th, as Chavanel, in the green jersey, kept himself near the front inside the last km and was one of the riders to launch the final sprint.
Bouhanni is the new race leader, while Damien Gaudin (Team Europcar) moves to 2nd (s.t.). Chavanel is in 3rd, but only a second down in the GC. OPQS rider Peter Velits is 9th in the GC (+03").
OPQS looks next to 200.5km Stage 2, another flat stage from Vimory to Cerilly, on Tuesday. There are two sprint sections at 15.5km and 182.5km, and the riders will cross the finish line twice in a 18km loop before going for the stage finish.