Benoot solos to victory on stage 6 of Paris-Nice

Maximilian Schachmann held on to the overall lead of Paris-Nice on Friday, with racing set to go ahead on Saturday despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The final stage scheduled for Sunday has been cancelled, with Romain Bardet criticising a “lack of unity” in the peloton.

Tiesj Benoot won the 161.5km run through the Luberon hills to Apt in Provence in the south-east of France on Friday. The Belgian climbed to second in the overall standings, trailing 36 seconds behind Schachmann.

Two other key challengers also strengthened their bids as Sergio Higuita moved to within 1min 1sec and is third overall, while Vincenzo Nibali is at 1min 18sec in sixth.

Saturday’s summit finish atop La Colmiane mountain will provide the finale to the race.

Benoot raced the final 13km alone after some lively competition on the slopes, with Bardet the last man to be dropped.

Bardet said he had mixed feelings about continuing with the race on Friday.

“We were racing flat out. I had fun out there, why not let yourself go a bit, even if it makes no sense racing in this context,” Bardet said. “Some are leaving, others are not, we may end up with 30 riders. I wonder where the meaning is in there… We’rs out on our little ride as if nothing has happened.”

Schachmann had been in a group around 20sec adrift of Benoot but crashed on the final descent less than a kilometre from home.

“I crashed with about 800 metres to go when the race was full on and everyone was going full gas down,” said the Bora-hansgrohe rider who emerged unscathed.

“There is just one day to go and it’ll be all out.”

Saturday’s run culminates with a 16.3km climb at a 6.3 percent incline.

Paris-Nice 2020 – stage 6 results (Sorgues – Apt):

1Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb)

3:57:02

2Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)

+22”

3Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling)

,,

4Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)

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5Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)

,,

6Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo)

,,

7Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

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8Guillaume Martin (Cofidis)

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9Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ)

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10Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic)

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Paris-Nice 2020 – general classification after stage 6:

1Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe)

22:46:24

2Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb)

+36”

3Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling)

+01’01”

4Felix Grossschartner (Bora-hansgrohe)

,,

5Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)

+01’10”

6Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo)

+01’18”

7Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ)

+01’29”

8Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

+01’30”

9Tanel Kangert (EF Pro Cycling)

+01’52”

10Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)

+02’04”

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