Like his Argos-Shimano team mate Marcel Kittel, winner in Tours during the last Tour de France, John Degenkolb captured a prestigious victory on the famous Avenue de Grammont. This 107th edition of the classic wasn't meant to be for the four breakaway riders that took off at km 35, nor for the strong men in the hills before Tours. In a bunched sprint, Degenkolb eventually beat his rivals Morkov and Démare to the line to capture his first Paris-Tours victory.
Authon-du-Perche celebrates the 107th
For the 5th consecutive year, the Eure-et-Loir Département welcomed the start of Paris-Tours. After Chartres, La Loupe, Voves and Châteauneuf-en-Thymerais, the 191 riders took off at 10:32 this morning from Authon-du-Perche for the 107th edition of the classic in fine weather conditions despite the cold temperature.
Four men on the break
After a very fast start and several vain breakaway attempts, four men eventually took off, for good, at kilometre 34: Lander (BMC), Saramotins (IAM), Martinez (LPM) and Duval (RLM). Their advantage grew rapidly. After covering 50 kilometres in the first hour of racing, they could enjoy a 7'40 lead over the quiet pack. The gap reached a maximum 11'35 at km 73 before the main field finally started chasing.
Time to chase
With teams FDJ.fr, Argos-Shimano and Garmin-Sharp taking control of matters, the front men's lead dropped down from 6'55 at the feeding zone (km 112) to 4'15 as they went over the Loire river in Amboise (km 168.5), and then 1'23 at the bottom of the climb up the Côte de Crochu (30.5 km from the finish). With 25 kilometres to go, the escapees could only count on a 30” lead. Saramotins was eventually the last to survive before being caught at km 223.
In the climb up the Côte de Beau Soleil, a prestigious group of seven men managed to take off. Marcato (VCD), Chavanel (OPQ), Degenkolb (ARG), Démare (FDJ), Bol, Vanmarcke (BEL) and Morkov (TST) enjoyed a short lead over the pack with a maximum 15'' advantage. But except for Bol, they were to be caught going up the Côte de l'Epan.
Bol, last men
Dutchman Jetse Bol continued his effort in style. He reached the last 3km mark with a 15'' lead and still had 10'' going into the last 2 kilometres. But against a hungry pack, there was not much he could do and was finally caught in the last 500m. Time had come for a bunched sprint that would finally go John Degenkolb's way. The German beat Michael Morkov and Arnaud Démare to the line to clinch this 107th edition, at the very same place where Marcel Kittel had conquered stage 12 of the last Tour de France.