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Paris-Nice: Tony Gallopin takes lead with epic stage six win

Tony Gallopin during stage six of the 2015 Paris-Nice from Vence to Nice on March 14, 2015 in Nice, France.
Image: Tony Gallopin emerged victorious from an action-packed sixth stage

France’s Tony Gallopin took the overall lead of Paris-Nice after winning solo on a dramatic and weather-affected sixth stage into Nice.

Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) attacked out of the lead group on the last of the day’s six categorised climbs and won by 32 seconds from runner-up Simon Spilak (Katusha) and third-placed Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida).

Race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx - Quick-Step) finished more than a minute down in the second chase group, which meant that Gallopin, who had started the day 38 seconds off the pace in sixth, claimed the race leader’s yellow jersey.

Kwiatkowski arrived at the finishing straight alongside Team Sky duo Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas, who were second and third overall, but the exhausted Pole couldn’t stay on their wheel all the way to the finish line and eventually finished two seconds behind them.

That means Porte remains second overall but is now 36 seconds down on Gallopin, with Kwiatkowski 37 adrift in third and Thomas 38 seconds back in fourth.

Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas, Paris-Nice 2015, stage six
Image: Richie Porte, front, and Geraint Thomas, rear, both crashed on a dramatic day

The results, however, told only half of the story of an action-packed day in which Kwiatkowski, Porte and Thomas all experienced extreme highs and lows.

Kwiatkowski looked to be on top when he attacked the Team Sky pair on the wet descent off the penultimate climb and opened up a 20-second lead, but Porte and Thomas reeled him back in on the last climb and then dropped him, stretching out a 20-second lead of their own over the summit.

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However, both Porte and Thomas then crashed in quick succession of each other on the descent to the finish, which allowed Kwiatkowski to catch them back up and finish just behind them.

The race will now be decided on Sunday’s 9.6km uphill time trial on Col d’Eze, where Porte will be favourite to win the stage and take overall victory.

Gallopin said: “It was difficult with the rain. It was a really hard day. It was such a difficult stage and to win the race will still be really hard and I hope that I can recover from this tough stage to do that. The time trial is not my best discipline, so we will have to see. Tomorrow I’m going to give my best to win the race.”

Stage six result

1 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal, 4:52:57
2 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, +32sec
3 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, same time
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, st
5 Rafael Valls (Esp) Lampre-Merida, +35
6 Michael Valgren (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo, +1:00
7 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal, st
8 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling, st
9 Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr, st
10 Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, st
Selected others
12 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, st
13 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, st
14 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step, +1:02

General classification

1 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal, 28:49:42
2 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, +36secs
3 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step, +37
4 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, +38
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, st
6 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, +42
7 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, +53
8 Rafael Valls (Esp) Lampre-Merida, +1:01
9 Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, +1:19
10 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal, +2:00

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