Geraint Thomas wins Paris-Nice

Wales’ Geraint Thomas, racing for Team Sky and powered by his fi’zi:k R1B Uomo shoes, dug deep to take a memorable overall victory at Paris-Nice. The 29-year-old held a 15-second lead over Alberto Contador going into Sunday’s tough 141km final stage, which featured six categorised climbs.

On the penultimate climb of the day, the 653m Cote de Peille that dragged on for 6.6km at an average gradient of 6.8%, Contador jumped clear of the pack. But thanks to the combined efforts of Team Sky’s Nicolas Roche, Ben Swift (fi’zi:k Arione R1 saddle) and Ian Boswell (fi’zi:k Aliante R1), Thomas was brought back into the fold by the time the riders hit the final climb of the day – the 478m-high Col d’Éze (7.7km at an average 5.5%).

However, Contador pushed again ascending the Col d’Éze, taking Richie Porte (BMC Racing and fi’zi:k saddles) and Tim Wellens with him. Reaching the summit, the leading trio had a significant advantage over Thomas but the Welshman and his Sky teammate Sergio Henao (fi’zi:k Antares R3) descended with precision and speed to make up 30 seconds and give Thomas the overall victory by 4 seconds over Contador. Porte was third overall, 12 seconds back.

‘I had a 54 chainring on for the descent in case I had to chase and I needed that at the end,’ Thomas said. ‘But it’s incredible to have won Paris-Nice. Contador is one of the best stage racers ever and Richie won nearly every race he did last year, so to beat those two – I can’t really believe it.’

Over in Italy, Tirreno-Adriatico looks equally as compelling. Team Dimension Data’s Stephen Cummings (fi’zi:k saddles) won Saturday’s stage four but couldn’t carry the momentum over to Sunday as organisers cancelled the queen stage because of predicted snow on four of the climbs.

The race looks likely to be settled on Tuesday’s final stage – a 10.1km time trial. Zdenek Stybar is in GC lead but breathing down his neck is the combined force of BMC Racing, who have the trio of Damiano Caruso (fi’zi:k Antares 00), Greg Van Avermaet (fi’zi:k Antares 00) and Tejay van Garderen (fi’zi:k Aliante VSX) placed ominously in second, third and fourth, respectively.