Paris-Nice: Dylan Teuns 2nd in stage 1

The first stage of this year’s Paris-Nice race was ridden in wet and cold conditions. And the racing was so fierce that only four riders were fighting for the stage win at the end of the stage. After a strong   performance, Team Bahrain-McLaren’s Dylan Teuns crossed the finish line in 2nd place.

While a number of races in Italy had to be cancelled or postponed due to the fast spreading of the novel corona virus, the 78th edition of the Paris-Nice stage race could start as scheduled. Apart from an individual time trial, a hard mountain top finish and the grand finale in the hills surrounding the city of Nice, this eight-day race features a number of hilly transitional stages and two mostly flat stages. Team Bahrain-McLaren has to do without its Basque climber Mikel Landa who has not fully recovered from the consequences of a training accident. With Dylan Teuns and Pello Bilbao the team still has two strong captains for the overall standings in its line-up. As for the individual time trial it will be interesting to see how Jan Tratnik, Teuns and Bilbao perform, and some of the finishes look to be perfect for Ivan Garcia Cortina to try his luck.

The first stage was ridden on a hilly course in the North of Paris. From the sprinters’ perspective the main problem was a climb with cobblestone sections that had to be ridden with about six kilometers to go. And at first the opening stage seemed to follow the classic script: Two French riders went on the attack early while the peloton focussed on keeping this duo within reach. But then the wind got a lot stronger and split the peloton into multiple parts. These groups were chasing each other so hard that the early attackers were caught with 82 kilometers to go. After a short breather that allowed the peloton to regroup the wind was back and new echelons formed as a consequence. While 17 riders attacked from the front, the riders of Team Bahrain-McLaren were caught out on the wrong foot.

Thanks to a strong team effort Dylan Teuns managed to make it back into the first chasing group. Just when this group was about to reel in the leaders, two strong riders attacked with Julien Alaphilippe and Tiesj Benoot. Ivan Cortina lost no second and got to the front of the chasers to keep these two within reach. Thanks to his chasing effort and another acceleration by Pello Bilbao to snatch the last bonification second on the road, this plan worked out. Dylan Teuns made the best use of the cobbled descent to attack from the chasing group, and the only rider who could match his pace was German champion Maximilian Schachmann. The two cooperated well and closed in on the leading duo on the final descent. Once the race hit the ascending finishing straight, Dylan Teuns opted for a long sprint but Schachmann was ready to counter his effort.

«I probably started my sprint a little bit early and could not keep up my speed in the head wind. But after such a hard stage I’m still happy about my 2nd place», Dylan Teuns said after the stage. Trailing the stage winner at 15 seconds, Pello Bilbao as Team Bahrain-McLaren’s second protected rider for the overall standings made it to the finish in the first group of chasers. The next two stages of Paris-Nice may look easier on paper. But if the weather remains cold and wet and the wind from Southwest gets stronger again, we might see more echelons forming, making the stages so much harder.

1. Maximilian Schachmann, GER, in 3:32.19 hours
2. Dylan Teuns, BEL/Team Bahrain-McLaren, st
3. Tiesj Benoot, BEL, st