Vandenbergh into the break at Paris-Nice
The experienced Belgian showed Etixx – Quick-Step's colors during stage 5 of the French race.
It was another hard day (Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux – Salon-de-Provence, 198 kilometers) at Paris-Nice, but that didn't stop Stijn Vandenbergh make his way into the escape, although on the menu there was also a trip on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, at Chalet Reynard. Joining him at the front of the race were Lars Boom (Astana), Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling), Arnaud Courteille (FDJ), Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Wouter Wippert (Cannondale).
Vandenbergh, who is in his tenth season as a pro, was a key man of that group, his strong pulls helping the escapees open an 8-minute lead on the peloton led by Tinkoff and Orica-GreenEdge. Halfway through the stage, the break was scathered all over the road, before five men, including Vandenbergh, regrouped on a descent. As the race progressed and hit its final 35 kilometers, Duchesne made his move and went clear, while the others were brought back by the chasers.
Then, with 20 kilometers remaining, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) attacked from the yellow jersey group, caught the Canadian and left him behind, before soloing to the win. The bunch came 21 seconds later, with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) rounding out the podium. Pieter Serry was also there, managing to make his way to a 6th place in the stage standings, while Vandenbergh, despite giving it all in the break, still had enough energy left in the legs to come 11th.
The penultimate stage of Paris-Nice (Nice – La Madone d'Utelle, 177 kilometers) can turn out to be decisive for the outcome of the race, considering the peloton will tackle seven categorized ascents, including a 15.3-km long one, averaging 5.7%, right at the finish.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele