Henao wins Paris-Nice thriller

12 Mar 2017

Henao wins Paris-Nice thriller

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Sergio Henao dug deep on the final day to win a thrilling edition of Paris-Nice by just two seconds.

The Colombian was pushed hard after a long-range attack from Alberto Contador forced the yellow jersey to chase over the day's final two climbs above Nice.
A frantic run back to the finish saw the maillot jaune finish inside an elite group of chasers, 21 seconds back on the Spaniard and eventual stage winner David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors).
Bonus seconds were not enough for Contador (Trek-Segafredo) who missed out by the narrowest of margins, just two seconds back after a brave ride.
Henao wrapped up Team Sky's fifth victory in six years at the prestigious stage race, laying the foundations with a battling performance in the cross-winds in the opening pair of stages. 

Henao was supported by his Team Sky team-mates across the eight days, with Sebastian Henao and David Lopez playing key late roles on the final day, helping to close the gap ahead of the Col d'Eze.
Sergio Henao

Sergio Henao

This is the greatest victory in my career and to win it like this at the last metre of Paris-Nice is simply unbelievable.
After the race a thrilled Henao explained: "I suffered a lot. I want to thank everyone who made it possible, my team-mates and my wife. This is the greatest victory in my career and to win it like this at the last metre of Paris-Nice is simply unbelievable. 

"Paris-Nice is such a great race and there were so many great rivals like Alberto Contador. It was tough, but I didn't ask myself any questions. I knew I had to suffer until the last minutes but I had to do it for myself and for the greatness of Colombian cycling."
David Lopez dug deep to help his team-mate

David Lopez dug deep to help his team-mate

Henao headed into the day with the yellow jersey on his shoulders and a 30-second advantage over Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors). Contador lay a further second back.
A big breakaway group pushed on up ahead, and as the peloton gave chase on undulating terrain, the race tore itself apart. With the lead group reduced to just 30 riders Henao still looked comfortable, with six team-mates standing firm around him.
Decisively the group split further on the Cote de Peille under intense pressure from Trek-Segafredo. Off the back of this Contador made an early move with some 50 kilometres still to race. Henao was immediately onto his wheel, but began to slip back.
As the gap spun out to just over a minute it looked like the win could be slipping away. But with cousin Sebastian and Lopez returning to the fold the advantage was pegged. Henao then doggedly shut down attack after attack on the final climb, but as the gap slowly came down the momentum formed, with a thrilling conclusion on the Quai des Etats Unis. 

Stage eight results:
1. David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) 2:48:53
2. Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) s.t.
3. Marc Soler (Movistar) +5"
4. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida) +21"
5. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) s.t.
x. Sergio Henao (Team Sky) s.t.
Final standings:
1. Sergio Henao (Team Sky) 29:50:29
2. Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) +2”
3. Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) +30”
4. Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) +1’00”
5. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) +1’22"

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