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):
|1||Niccolo Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie)|
|2||Ivan Garcia Cortina (Bahrain McLaren)|
|3||Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|4||Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic)|
|5||Hugo Hofstetter (Israel Start-Up Nation)|
|6||Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert)|
|7||John Degenkolb (Lotto Soudal)|
|8||Elia Viviani (Cofidis)|
|9||Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept)|
|10||Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ)|
Paris-Nice 2020 – general classification after stage 5:
|1||Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|2||Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb)|
|3||Felix Grossschartner (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|4||Nils Politt (Israel Start-Up Nation)|
|5||Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling)|
|6||Dylan Teuns (Bahrain McLaren)|
|7||Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb)|
|8||Mads Schmidt Würtz (Israel Start-Up Nation)|
|9||Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT)|
|10||Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)|