Before a mountainous final weekend, the sixth stage of Paris-Nice between Peynier and Brignoles was designed for breakaway specialists or sprinters. Only three riders broke away shortly after the start and a sprint was therefore on the cards. Laurent Pichon, who was one of the fugitives, would be a relay for his sprinter but with 50 kilometres left, the peloton was split in two and Andre Greipel got the short stick. His team mates worked hard to bring him back, but their efforts were vain.
Andre Greipel : “I was too far back in the descent, there was a split in the middle of the bunch and I got distanced. It was stupid, I should not have been caught out. With Elie and Amael, we tried to come back in the last climb, we were close but eventually we could not do it. I am really disappointed that I could not sprint for the win because of this mistake. It was my last chance.”
Laurent Pichon : “We wanted to be in front today but we would have preferred if more riders had joined. Three men, a lot of wind, the script was written after a few kilometres. I wondered if I should sit up to spare energy, we discussed it with the sports directors, but I could also serve as a relay for Andre. I tried not to put too much effort in but when you’re in front with a headwind, you have to push on the pedals. When I got caught I hung on for dear life but I had no energy life. Today is my daughter’s birthday and I wanted to do well for her. It did not work but I like to be in front and try. This weekend, without Warren, our two best chances will come from Elie and Amael and I hope I can join them in a long breakaway.”
Yvon Ledanois, sports director : “Andre was on the wrong end of a split in the descent from the Col de la Sainte Baume. Amael Moinard tells me that maybe they were a bit too far back but it was not that bad. In front, Mitchelton Scott and Sky rode hard and Amael worked hard with Jumbo-Visma, they came within 100 metres but in that case either you bridge the gap right away or it’s over. It was our last opportunity for a sprint. We will try to finish Paris-Nice like we started it: with ambition. We are not going to give up, for those who support us, for our sponsors and for our mates who left the race.”
Sebastien Hinault, sports director : “I followed the race behind Laurent Pichon. The scenario with only three riders in front was not the one we had hoped for. Knowing that it would lead to nothing. Laurent did not give too much, he knew the bunch would be back strong. He waited for the Andre Greipel group but he was on the wrong side of the split. It’s a pity because Laurent as a relay was a good strategy.”