Schachmann grabs stage in rainy Paris-Nice opener

Maximilian Schachmann won the opening stage in the Paris-Nice, taking a frantic four-man sprint at the end of a dank day’s racing through northern France.

Schachmann edged Dylan Teuns and Tiesj Benoot. Julian Alaphilippe was three seconds back in fourth at the finish of a 154-kilometre loop that began and ended in Plaisir on the outskirts of Paris.

Schachmann collected a 10-second bonus for victory and the overall lead.

The opening day of the race, which went ahead while competitions in Italy were cancelled, was marked by preventive measures related to the coronavirus, including limiting contact with the riders for the public and the media.

“I planned to go to Italy but France has turned out pretty well,” says Schachmann.

The Race to the Sun began in miserable northern French late winter weather. The rain made the course treacherous. Two of the French favourites, Warren Barguil and Romain Bardet suffered costly falls.

Bardet lost more than two minutes. Barguil was disqualified for slipstreaming the car of his team’s sporting director Yvon Caer.

Alaphilippe and Benoot were the last survivors of a group of 16 riders created when the pack split after a crash at a roundabout after 90 kilometres.

“On the last climb I went with Dylan and we bridged across. It was a crazy last corner but somehow I managed it,” Schachmann said. “It’s my hardest race so far this season. I did not have great legs but in the end, I felt that in spite of the pain, I still had some strength left to make it back on the two leaders in the last stretch.”

Bardet finished 2:42 behind the winner.

“A place in the top five has become difficult to envisage,” said Vincent Lavenu, the head of the AG2R team, adding that there was a silver lining on a cloudy day. “In the tough stages, he will have more freedom. We’re going to try for some individual exploits.”

Paris-Nice 2020 – stage 1 results (Plaisir – Plaisir):

1Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe)

3:32:19

2Dylan Teuns (Bahrain McLaren)

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3Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb)

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4Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)

+03”

5Cees Bol (Team Sunweb)

+15”

6Nils Politt (Israel Start-Up Nation)

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7Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT)

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8Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling)

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9Felix Grossschartner (Bora-hansgrohe)

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10Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)

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Paris-Nice 2020 – general classification after stage 1:

1Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe)

3:32:09

2Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb)

+02”

3Dylan Teuns (Bahrain McLaren)

+04”

4Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)

+07”

5Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren)

+24”

6Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ)

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7Cees Bol (Team Sunweb)

+25”

8Nils Politt (Israel Start-Up Nation)

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9Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT)

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10Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling)

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