Schachmann holds on to win Paris-Nice as Quintana takes final stage

Maximilian Schachmann won the Paris-Nice race in a rare case of a sporting event still going ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While France’s soccer and rugby leagues scrapped their matches indefinitely on a hectic Friday – amid cancellations around the world – organizers maintained one of cycling’s biggest stage races. They only shortened it by scrapping Sunday’s traditional last stage into the southern city of Nice.

Schachmann led overnight by 36 seconds from Tiesj Benoot heading into the hilly 166.5-kilometer seventh stage, ending with a steep Category 1 climb to Valdeblore-La Colmiane.

With about 4 kilometers left, Nairo Quintana moved out of the leading group of a dozen riders and launched a strong attack which the punchy Colombian is well known for.

He was quickly caught, but his next attack was more successful and he won the stage by 46 seconds ahead of Benoot.

Benoot attacked just before the last kilometer as he tried to make up the gap to Schachmann. But the exhausted German held on and then lay on his back after crossing the finish line in sixth place to win the race for the first time.

Schachmann is the first German to win Paris-Nice since Tony Martin in 2011.

“It was very, very hard. The last three kilometers were a walk through hell, through pain. Now it’s like being in heaven and it erases all the pain in my legs,” he said.

For Schachmann, the win proved he had what it takes to compete in big stage races.

“It’s not my first success but the biggest so far and the most important because a whole lot of people doubted that I could be a GC (General Classification) rider,” Schachmann said. “Now I won the most prestigious one-week race.”

Benoot was 18 seconds behind overall, while Sergio Higuita finished third and former Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali was fourth.

Pockets of fans were lining sections of the final climb to encourage Quintana and the other riders.

“I always try to win stages with some elegance,” Quintana said. “I wanted to win (a stage) to bring a little joy to this team (Arkea-Samsic), and this is a gift for the whole team for the job done. Now I’m going to go back to Colombia to stay with my family.”

Paris-Nice 2020 – stage 7 results (Nice – Valdeblore La Colmiane):

1Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic)

27:14:23

2Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb)

+46”

3Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

+56”

4Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling)

,,

5Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo)

,,

6Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe)

+58”

7Guillaume Martin (Cofidis)

+01’19”

8Tanel Kangert (EF Pro Cycling)

+01’22”

9Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)

+01’32”

10Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ)

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Paris-Nice 2020 – final general classification:

1Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe)

27:14:23

2Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb)

+18”

3Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling)

+59”

4Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo)

+01’16”

5Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

+01’24”

6Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic)

+01’30”

7Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ)

+02’03”

8Tanel Kangert (EF Pro Cycling)

+02’16”

9Felix Grossschartner (Bora-hansgrohe)

+03’39”

10Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb)

+04’36”

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