Henao surges into third

10 Mar 2017

Henao surges into third

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Sergio Henao launched a powerful late attack to elevate himself into third place overall after six stages at Paris-Nice.

The Colombian enjoyed fantastic support from his Team Sky team-mates on the road to Fayence, and was in the perfect position to react when attacks fired on the final climb. 
 
Taking a combined seven bonus seconds on the day, Henao put an additional 12 seconds into race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) on the steep uphill ramp. Up ahead there was no stopping Simon Yates (Orica-Scott), with the Brit launching a move as the leaders crested the Cote de Bourigaille, eventually holding on to win by 17 seconds.
 
Heading into a weekend full of climbing, Henao now sits 46 seconds back on the yellow jersey of Alaphilippe, and 10 behind second placed Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal).
 
With six categorised climbs on the day, Team Sky set out to make the 193.5km test as tough as possible. Henao gave everyone confidence after he was able to follow a surprise long-range attack from Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), launched from 50km out.

Philip Deignan set a searing pace on the front, before Sebastian Henao took it up to pace the first ascent of the Bourigaille. Then it was Mikel Nieve's turn to put in a mammoth stint, thinning out the group on the second pass over the climb, before clinging on over the top and working hard to limit the losses to Yates.
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After the stage Sport Director Nicolas Portal gave the full debrief to TeamSky.com, expanding on the tactics for the day.
 
He said: "The guys were super strong today. The plan was to try and go for the stage win, and secondly obviously not to lose time on the GC. It was a really good stage for Sergio and we knew some bonus seconds could be really useful, especially combined with a small time gap.
 
"The stage began with a climb right from the start. Over the top Christian (Knees), Luke (Rowe) and Michal (Golas) came back to the group. When the gap hit four or five minutes they started to ride, take it on and do everything we could for Sergio. 
 
"When we hit the next climbs Contador attacked and the gap dropped really quickly. On the penultimate climb we decided to lift the pace a bit with Sebastian to try and thin the group. We also didn't want too many attacks over the top. Then Mikel took over and did a really good job.
 
"Yates put in a strong attack and he really deserved the victory today. Sergio then went for second and the bonus seconds. He was able to make a gap which was good and now he is 46 seconds back."
 
Attention now turns to the final weekend, starting with a huge summit finish on the Col de la Couillole on Saturday.
 
On the challenge ahead, Portal added: "Tomorrow is another very important stage for the GC guys - maybe the decisive stage. Every day up until now Sergio has been perfect. He's made no mistakes and is in front of the main GC guys like Porte, Contador and Zakarin. 
 
"On the big climbs I think we will see those guys feature, whether to win the stage or take time back. It will be a really fast final climb which is good for Sergio. He has some time to make up but with time bonuses at the line anything is possible. He is feeling good so we will cross our fingers."
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Stage six result:
1. Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) 4:37:51
2. Sergio Henao (Team Sky) +17"
3. Richie Porte (BMC Racing) +26"
4. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) +29"
5. Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) s.t.
 
Overall standings:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) 21:58:22
2. Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) +36"
3. Sergio Henao (Team Sky) +46"
3. Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) +57"
5. Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) +1:20"

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