The plan for Arkea-Samsic was to get into the breakaway and go for the stage win with Elie Gesbert. He rode perfectly in the beginning of the stage to join a 13-man breakaway featuring specialists Magnus Cort Nielsen, Thomas De Gent and Alessandro De Marchi. The pace was high and the group opened a seven-minute gap but the hilly finish split the breakaway. Elie Gesbert dropped out in the last climb 12 kilometres from the finish but showed he was in good form. He promised he would be in front again this week.
Elie Gesbert : “It feels good to be in front. But when you see that Magnus Cort Nielsen is in the breakaway that will be contesting the stage win, it’s frustrating to drop out so close to the line. I would have loved to battle it out for the win. I was with good all-rounders, very good riders but I came up 10 km short. Today it was a leg-snapping ride and we knew the breakaway could go all the way. We had to fight for about 10 km to get in the break and groups of 4-5 riders jumped away until we ended up 13. Even with guys like Magnus Cort Nielsen and De Marchi you have to believe in your chances otherwise it’s pointless to try. I knew who I had to keep an eye on but I was also aware it would be hard in the finale. The first two days have been weighing on everyone. When you have echelons the pace is high and it has consequences. I’m getting better, so I’ll have to try again.”
Sebastien Hinault (sports director) :
“We came up 10km short, it’s a pity and a bit frustrating when you see that the break goes all the way. With Cort Nielsen it would have been tough to win but you never know. It would have been nice to battle it out for the victory but unfortunately Elie ran out of energy in the last climb. I told him to believe in his chances and not to stay in the wheel of Turnier who had been already dropped. Elie was also at his maximum then. But he stage was demanding, it was full gas all day. It was a route that suited Elie but he was with machines, very good riders. We are obviously a bit disappointed but that’s how we have to play it if we want to win stages. We saw today that it was possible, we were quite close. It’s good to see that we are able to follow the best in this kind of stages. The beginning of the stage was complicated but we are on another Paris-Nice now. We’re done with echelons and the route is suited to Elie Gesbert, Amael Moinard, Laurent Pichon and why not Andre Greipel on Friday. We will have our chances in three more stages, we’ll have to go all-in.”