March 06, 2017 (Bois d’Arcy, France) – Milan-San Remo winner Arnaud Démare showed he was perfectly ready to defend his crown, winning the 148.5-km first stage of Paris-Nice like he did a year ago, ahead of fellow-Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe. The FDJ team leader caught his compatriot in the final kilometre, when the young Frenchman tried to outwit the sprinters, to finally snatch the stage win and lead a French clean sweep of jerseys.
Démare now heads the General Classification with a four seconds lead over Alaphilippe, who took a consolation white jersey as the best young rider in the race. The polka dot jersey is now on the back of Romain Hardy (Fortuneo), who was part of the day’s early breakaway. The short stage was a real mini-classic in which the wind played a major role, splitting the bunch into several echelons which saw some of the main pre-race favorites like Alberto Contador (Trek), Richie Porte (BMC) or Romain Bardet (Ag2R) lose serious ground.
“I had a tremendous amount of fun racing today. It’s great to ride in races like this. I didn’t think the peloton was going to be the victim of the echelons so early in the day. But my team and I were lucky to be at the forefront at that time. When Julian Alaphilippe came out a few yards from the line, I made a huge effort to get him. I knew that if I did, I would be the fastest” Démare
Canadians Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie) and Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team) are taking part in the eight day stage race. Duchesne finished amongst the main ground in 107th, 16:10 behind Démare. Woods finished 162nd in a group including teammate and two-time Tour de France stage winner Pierre Rolland (France), 18:43.
Paris-Nice continues on Monday with the 195km Stage 2 from Rochefort-en-Yvelines to Amilly, France.
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ 3:22:43
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin 0:09
4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
5. Romain Hardy (Fra) Fortuneo – Vital Concept
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors
7. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
8. Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin
9. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
10. Rudy Molard (Fra) FDJ
108. Antione Duchesne (Can) Direct Energie 16:10
162. Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 18:43
GC after Stage 1
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ 3:22:33
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors 0:04
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin 0:15
108. Antione Duchesne (Can) Direct Energie 0:16:20
162. Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:18:53