Geraint Thomas takes his first WorldTour stage race win with a spectacular comeback on the final stage of Paris-Nice, holding off Alberto Contador to win the title

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) won a memorable Paris-Nice title with a remarkable comeback in the final 20km to hold off a marauding Alberto Contador (Tinkoff).

At one stage on the final climb Thomas looked dead and buried as Contador and Richie Porte surged off the front of the small front group, but the Welshman recovered 30 seconds in the descent to deny the Spaniard his third Paris-Nice win.

Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) took the stage win, having been out in the break all day and then worked with Contador and Porte in the final kilometres to stay at the head of the race.

Contador put on a tactical masterclass as attacked from 50km out, with the benefit of two teammates in the breakaway up the road to work with. But the depleted Team Sky squad worked hard on the front of the peloton to bring the small escape group back at kilometre 26.

On to the Col d’Eze and Contador tried his luck as his last domestique Rafal Majka ran out of gas. Thomas and Team Sky couldn’t hold on to the wheel of the attackers, but Contador was quickly brought back by Orica-GreenEdge.

Contador attacked on the final climb several times but the group reconnected each time, and although Thomas didn’t look to be on great form at the end of a tough race he had Sergio Henao on hand to bring the Spaniard back.

Alberto Contador attacks on the final stage of the 2016 Paris-Nice (Watson)

Alberto Contador attacks on the final stage of the 2016 Paris-Nice (Watson)

Thomas finally cracked in the last kilometre of the climb as Contador and Majka pulled away up the road. Richie Porte bridged across to the Contador group as the Welshman slipped further back.

But the Sky rider wasn’t dead and buried. As Porte and Contador sped down the other side of the Col d’Eze, Thomas worked with Henao and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) to pull back a 30-second deficit as they reached sea level in Nice.

As Wellens sprinted past Contador for the stage win, Thomas nestled himself in a group of riders who crossed the line just five seconds down on the Spaniard to seal the general classification.

The win is Thomas’s second of the season, having also beaten Contador at the Volta ao Algarve in February, and is the Welshman’s fifth stage race win of his career.

Paris-Nice stage seven, Nice-Nice (141km)
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, 3-16-09
2. Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff, st
3. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC, st
4. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal, at 5 secs
5. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge, st
6. Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) Cofidis, st
7. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, st
8. Jesus Herrada (Esp) Movistar, st
9. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, st
10. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, st

Final standings after stage seven
1. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, 27-26-40
2. Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff, at 4s
3. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC, at 12s
4. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha, at 20s
5. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, at 37s
6. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, at 44s
7. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge, st
8. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal, at 51s
9. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 1-00
10. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, 1-07

  • Tim Phillips

    No I know, sorry, I was clarifying from what Andrew said. I believe it counts as a classic.

  • Tony West

    Well I wouldnt say STORMED, he did have help, Contador had rider with him, but most were hanger on,s

  • Edvid

    Never said E3 was a Monument.

  • Tim Phillips

    It’s a classic. It’s not a monument.

  • Antonio

    Super win for G. Also, what is that highlights commentary about? She can take a pause at the punctuation and breathe.

  • maybe to help demoralise Contador!?

  • blemcooper

    I didn’t see it to know the dynamics, but why would Gallopin work with Sky to reach the front group if his own teammate, Wellens, was up the road?

  • Edvid

    If it’s 1.UWT, it’s a classic as far as I’m concerned – it doesn’t have to be a Monument like M-SR / P-R et al.

  • andrewgturnbull

    I know it got upgraded by the UCI a couple of years ago, but you can’t really rank it up with Msr, Flanders, Roubaix etc, can you?

    I’ll give you minor classic. 🙂

  • ljblas

    E3?

  • andrewgturnbull

    I don’t I think he’s wrong a classic yet…

  • Dabber

    I loved yesterday;s stage and today was the icing on the cake. Two great days of racing.
    Now, where’s my bike bike, I need to go ride 🙂

  • Edvid

    Does this victory make G the first British cyclist to win a classic and major stage race since Tom Simpson won P-N 49 years ago?

  • david watts

    Congratulations G
    Fantastic result

  • If Wellens hadn’t won that stage, Contador would have won the GC by 1 second!! As Sean Kelly says, ‘the most dramatic end to a Paris Nice, ever’ – too right Mr Kelly! Well done G! and well done Henao and NR – totally selfless service