Paris - Nice 2016: Ilnur Zakarin takes stage 6, Geraint Thomas new leader

At 177 kilometres, stage 6 in Paris-Nice leads over six mountains to the foot of the closing climb. Leader Matthews is dropped at the penultimate climb and in the 15.3 kilometres toil at 5.7% to La Madone d'Utelle Zakarin proves to be strongest. Geraint Thomas is on his wheel and the Welshman is the new overall leader, 15 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador. (Slideshow route/profile)

Results stage 6 Paris-Nice

1. Ilnur Zakarin (rus)
2. Geraint Thomas (gbr) s.t.
3. Alberto Contador (spa) + 0.01
4. Richie Porte (aus) + 0.07
5. Sergio Henao (col) + 0.10
6. Simon Yates (gbr) + 0.20
7. Rui Costa (por) + 0.31
8. Romain Bardet (fra) s.t.
9. Ion Izagirre (spa) s.t.
10. Tony Gallopin (fra) s.t.

GC after stage 6
1. Geraint Thomas (gbr)
2. Alberto Contador (spa) + 0.15
3. Ilnur Zakarin (rus) + 0.20
4. Richie Porte (aus) + 0.21
5. Tom Dumoulin (nld) + 0.32
6. Ion Izagirre (spa) + 0.37
7. Sergio Henao (col) + 0.39
8. Simon Yates (gbr) + 0.44
9. Tony Gallopin (fra) + 0.51
10. Romain Bardet (fra) + 1.00

Race report
Despite a multitude of attacks it is only after almost 30 kms the break of the day takes shape: Terpstra, Vachon, Gautier, Rast, Siskevicius, Grmay and Duchesne, while Talansky and De Gendt bridge the gap. The Belgian was the first to crest Côte de Gattières, the first climb, and seems to be eyeing up the KOM-classification, which he won last year. He takes most KOM-points at Cote de Coursegoules, a moment after hooking up with the front group. Impressive.

On the flanks of the Cote de la Sigale Siskevicius and Rast lose touch with the front group. Duchesne is the first to crest, thus taking the lead in the KOM-classification, while De Gendt takes most points on the Côte d’Acros. In the descent Terpstra, Vachon and Duchesne leave their companions and the trio tackles Côte de Levens. Soon Terpstra and Vachon are dropped. Duchesne is the first at the top and cements his lead in the KOM-classification. A little later Contador takes 2 seconds at an intermediate sprint.

Leader Matthews is dropped at the Cote de Duranus and Duchesne is the first to crest. In the plunge down his escape is history. No problem, the Canadian is the firm leader of the KOM-classification after two strong days in the break.

Sky sets the pace on the closing climb until Majka and Contador attack with 10 kms to go. All GC favourites are able to follow, but when Contador takes over with 6 kms left most riders are dropped. Only Porte, Thomas, Henao and Zakarin left upfront, along with El Pistolero himself.

With 1.4 kms left Simon Yates bridges the gap, but he is dropped once Porte accelerates.

Contador gives it a go in the last kilometre but he is knocked back by a Geraint Thomas counter. Zakarin takes the Welshman’s wheel to leave him in the dying metres of the stage. Victory for the Russian, leaders jersey for Thomas, 15 seconds ahead of Contador and 20 seconds ahead of today’s stage winner.

Paris – Nice 2016 stage 6: Route maps, height profile, and more

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Ilnur Zakarin

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