Molard wins 6th stage of Paris-Nice; Sanchez retains lead
VALDEBLORE LA COLMIANE, France (AP) — French cyclist Rudy Molard won the sixth stage of the Paris-Nice race on Friday and Spanish rider Luis Leon Sanchez kept the leader’s yellow jersey.
Molard became the fourth Frenchman to win a stage at this year’s race, breaking away from a small group of nine riders about 1 kilometer from the finish line. He finished two seconds ahead of Belgian rider Tim Wellens. French rider Julian Alaphilippe was third.
Sanchez finished the stage in fourth, also two seconds behind, despite having to change bikes. He now leads Alaphilippe by 22 seconds overall. Sanchez is 26 seconds ahead of Marc Sole, who is in third place with two stages left.
“With this incident, the changing of the bike, I have to thank my teammates once again. It was very difficult,” Sanchez said. “But I stayed relaxed and I knew what I needed to do.”
Wout Poels, who had been 15 seconds behind Sanchez overnight, crashed out of contention after falling off his bike about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from the end of the hilly 198-kilometer journey to Vence in the Alpes-Maritimes region. The Team Sky rider from the Netherlands appeared to hurt his shoulder in the spill.
“I’m sorry for Woult Poels crashing, he was in very good form these days,” Sanchez said. “But all of my rivals are dangerous, even if I have a small advance in terms of time.”
Saturday’s penultimate seventh stage takes the riders over 175 kilometers from Nice to the village commune of Valdeblore La Colmiane in the Alpes-Maritimes region. It features five climbs, ending with a grueling 16.3-kilometer ascent at an average gradient of 6.2 percent.
Known as “The Race to the Sun,” it ends Sunday in the southern city of Nice.