Euskaltel's Paris-Nice continued its less than stellar start on Monday as Romain Sicard showed a lack of early-season form and Jure Kocjan was forced to pull out.
The French stage race didn't get off to the best of beginnings for the orange-clad riders with a sub-par prologue on Sunday, and things didn't get much better on today's first stage proper.
True to his word pre-race, Sicard attacked from the off and quickly built up a decent lead ahead of the pack alongside Yannick Talabardon and Bertjan Lindeman. They never got a threatening gap, though, but Sicard was nevertheless forced to let his breakaway companions leave him in their wake in the closing stages.
The Frenchman was eventually reeled in some 33 clicks out, while the other two stayed out ahead for another 12.
In the sprint finale, Rubén Pérez was Euskaltel's go-to guy. For a while he looked to be in a decent position, but he never really got his sprint going and came home 19th.
On a worse note, the team is down to seven riders after Jure Kocjan was forced to post a DNF. According to the team's website, the Slovenian woke up with a severe headache and a fever. He took the start, though, intent on giving it a go, but got weaker as the kilometres passed by and eventually gave in to the pain.
The team's GC hopes, namely the Izagirre brothers and Mikel Nieve, all crossed the line safely tucked inside the peloton.
Results (full results here):
- (1, Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), 4:47:24)
- 19, Rubén Pérez, s.t.
- 35, Gorka Izagirre, s.t.
- 46, Ion Izagirre, s.t.
- 83, Mikel Nieve, s.t.
- 151, Mikel Astarloza, 1:53
- 163, Gorka Verdugo, s.t.
- 176, Romain Sicard, 8:23