Niccolo Bonifazio takes dramatic stage 5 win at Paris-Nice

Niccolo Bonifazio called his victory in the fifth stage of the Paris-Nice race “a little gift for my country”, with Italy plunged into a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus crisis.

Powering towards the line, Bonifazio managed to overtake Jan Tratnik, part of a group who broke away from the main pack soon after the start of the 227km stage, the longest in this year’s race.

In second place behind the Italian was Ivan Garcia Cortina with Peter Sagan third.

“It’s a little gift for my country that is going through difficult times,” said Bonifazio, who lives on the Ligurian coast. “My family has to stay at home, they can’t leave.”

Italy’s coronavirus death count passed 1,000 on Thursday, with 189 new fatalities taking the toll in just over two weeks to 1,016, second behind China.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced unprecedented measures limiting travel and banning public gatherings across the country of more than 60 million people in a desperate bid to halt the spread of a virus.

“We’re living day by day,” said Trek-Segafredo rider Vincenzo Nibali, a four-time Grand Tour champion.

“We’re obviously thinking about it,” added Giacomo Nizzolo, winner of Monday’s second stage. “It’s difficult not to. But for the moment it’s good to be able to compete in a big race like Paris-Nice. We’ll see what we’ll be able to do after this.”

Maximilian Schachmann retains the leader’s yellow jersey with three days to go in a race that has survived widespread postponements and cancellations of major sporting events caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday’s sixth stage is a 161.5km hilly run from Sorgues to Apt in the Luberon region.

Paris-Nice 2020 – stage 5 results (Gannat – La Côte-Saint-André):

1Niccolo Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie)

5:18:02

2Ivan Garcia Cortina (Bahrain McLaren)

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3Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe)

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4Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic)

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5Hugo Hofstetter (Israel Start-Up Nation)

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6Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert)

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7John Degenkolb (Lotto Soudal)

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8Elia Viviani (Cofidis)

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9Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept)

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10Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ)

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Paris-Nice 2020 – general classification after stage 5:

1Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe)

18:49:00

2Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb)

+58”

3Felix Grossschartner (Bora-hansgrohe)

+01’01”

4Nils Politt (Israel Start-Up Nation)

+01’05”

5Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling)

+01’06”

6Dylan Teuns (Bahrain McLaren)

+01’10”

7Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb)

+01’11”

8Mads Schmidt Würtz (Israel Start-Up Nation)

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9Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT)

+01’15”

10Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)

+01’16”

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