Pogacar Climbs to Stage Victory in Stage 4 of Paris-Nice
Today’s stage 4 of Paris-Nice 2023 welcomed the climbers and general classification hopefuls in the race peloton to the first large test of this year’s race. Spectators and cycling experts expected a battle between mountain goats and the grand tour favorites – such as Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma) - who are using Paris-Nice as an early season test of fitness and competition.
The ride took the peloton southeast on a 164.7-kilometer trip from Saint-Amand-Montrond to La Loge des Gardes and concluded on a 6.8-kilometer category 1 climb that offered an average gradient of seven percent.
A group of ambitious breakaway riders took off from the main peloton early in the stage. The group included mountains classification leader Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X pro cycling team) who set out to secure additional points for the mountain classification on intermediate climbs.
The breakaway group was eventually caught by the chasing peloton who were setting up their climbers and general classification favorites for the climax of the stage.
With 4.2-kilometers left of the stage, favorite duo Vingegaard and Pogacar attacked from the front to gain valuable time in the general classification and compete for the stage win. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) bridged the gap to the front duo and attacked solo, hoping to take a noteworthy stage victory.
Approximately 1.9-kilometers from the finish line Vingegaard disappointingly proved unable to follow the fast pace set by an apparently unstoppable Pogacar who has shown impressive early season form in recent weeks and animated races beautifully.
Pogacar eventually caught Gaudu shortly from the finish line and passed the Frenchman to take a beautiful stage victory and put the first nail in the coffin of Vingegaard’s hopes of renewing his title as Tour de France Champion in this year’s most important Grand Tour come July 2023.
“I had good legs today. I decided to go all in to catch the attackers, so I would not miss out on any bonus seconds,” stage winner Pogacar explained to Roadcycling.com after the finish. “First, when Vingegaard launched an attack, I thought he had super legs today, so I was surprised to see him crack two kilometers from the finish,” Pogacar added.
“Today’s stage was really a nervous one all day, especially in the flat sector where we faced crosswinds. My team did a perfect job all day long and Felix Grossschartner was superb on the final climb. When Gaudu attacked, I knew it was important not to give him too much space.”
In the general classification Pogacar took the race lead from Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) who proved unable to keep up with the climbers in the final phase of the stage. Pogacar has a ten second advantage over Frenchman David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Vingegaard is in third, 44 seconds behind the leader. Simon Yates (Team Jayco-Alula) is fourth and Romain Bardet is lurking in sixth for his DSM team.
Thursday’s stage 5 of Paris-Nice 2023 is a 212.4-kilometer southward adventure from Saint-Symphorien-sur-Coise to Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux in the Drome department of southeastern France. Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux is said to be the town where the idea of using lily of the valley as a lucky charm was invented. The town was once fortified, and parts of the defensive wall system are still standing. These days the town is known for its Romanesque-style cathedral and the cobbled streets of its historic quarter.
The stage 5 route will commence with two category two climbs, followed by two vertical category three challenges later in the stage. Breakaway hopefuls, including Magnus Cort, will hope to make use of these climbs to crush any hopes of a stage win that may reside inside the sprinters in this year’s Paris-Nice peloton.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for further coverage from Paris-Nice 2023.