Paris-Nice is the final race as the cycling world pauses to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Vincenzo Nibali finished in fifth place in Stage 7 of Paris-Nice to move into fourth overall, just shy of the podium. It was a valiant team effort for the final day that ended on the long climb to Valdeblore La Colmiane with Kenny Elissonde and Richie Porte pushing the pace on the final climb for Nibali.
But it was the on-form Nairo Quintana (Arkéa Samsic) who launched the winning attack with no response from the group that numbered around 10 riders. As Quintana rode away to victory, Nibali tried to make a counter move, but the group – now down to five – was quick to his wheel.
“Today was my first real long climb in a race, and I confirmed my good feelings,” said Nibali. “I wanted to attack and thanks to the team for the support they gave me. We did a good job, even if unfortunately, my contenders didn’t really want to let me go, as they did with Benoot. I take this as a form of respect, a kind of special attention for fear that my progression might hurt them. Or maybe, when Benoot attacked, they were hoping that I would be the one to close the gap… But that’s racing. When I realized I couldn’t leave alone, I preferred to follow their wheels. Nairo is having a peak of exceptional condition; it was very difficult for anyone to beat him today.”
We were able to finish Paris-Nice because the level of attention and precautions within the team and in the race were very high.
Tiesj Benoot (Sunweb) made a late move to try and steal the overall win from Maximilian Schachmann (Bora hansgrohe). He came across for second on the stage but did not gain enough time with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) leading the rest of the group across the finish line 10 seconds later.
Unable to shake his rivals on the final climb, Nibali finished in fourth overall, outside the final podium but overall content with how the race went:
“I’m pleased with my Paris-Nice. I was happy with the feeling within the team; this is a new group, and everything worked very well. The whole team was unified towards one purpose, so thank you very much to everyone.
“Now I’m going home to Lugano. We were able to finish Paris-Nice because the level of attention and precautions within the team and in the race were very high. The organization kept the race heavily guarded and allowed us to run in a way that was adequate. Now all activity stops for cycling as a whole. We will wait for what develops next, and then we will make the necessary evaluations.”
Paris-Nice managed to fit in a week of racing under strict controls, resulting in start and finish areas eerily devoid of spectators. Now Trek-Segafredo, along with the rest of the cycling world, heads into a period with no races and many unknowns.
“Right now, there are so many things unsure, and at the moment, it’s difficult to make decisions of what to do and when to do it,” said director Steven de Jongh. “We will have a meeting with all the sport directors on Monday, and hopefully, by then, we will have more information about the upcoming calendar.
“We also understand the situation that it’s hard for the race organizers to make decisions at the moment. We have to all be flexible, and then all is possible still. We will see what the organizers will do, and we have to respect what they put in place. Together we will find a solution.”