Bernal and Kwiatkowski start Paris-Nice strongly

10 Mar 2019

Bernal and Kwiatkowski start Paris-Nice strongly

Michal Kwiatkowski and Egan Bernal started Paris-Nice on the front foot with an attacking display in the crosswinds of stage one.

Pushed on by teammate and Birthday boy Luke Rowe the team’s leaders were on the right side of the day’s splits as the wind played havoc on the 138-kilometre run around Paris.

Seizing every opportunity to put the squeeze on those behind, Rowe patrolled the front of the bunch in trademark fashion and kept Bernal and Kwiatkowski well positioned throughout.

The Pole also took all three bonus seconds available at the day’s final intermediate sprint to give him an early edge in the GC battle. A number of high profile riders found themselves distanced across the day, with two groups coming in behind the elite front selection. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) took the opening stage by the smallest of margins from Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), with Bernal and Kwiatkowski both home safely in the front bunch.


Luke Rowe: “I’ve had better birthdays! But we had some fun racing out there so I’ll take it. It was a typical day in the first half of Paris-Nice really. We were on the right end of the splits each and every time with Kwiato and Egan, our two GC guys.

“It’s a race of two halves this year - that’s clear cut. There’s the first three days before the time trial and then after that we go into the mountains. We’ve just got to get through these first few days unscathed. If we take time, great, but the most important thing is not to lose time. So that’s one day done and a big tick in the box there. Kwiato took some bonus seconds as well. And when all the team buys into it like that and contributes where they can, it’s usually going to go pretty well. It was a great first day at Paris-Nice.”

Kwiatkowski is a crosswind specialist, just like Rowe, but the Welshman had special praise for Bernal.

“A ride like that from Egan is just pure class. I was trying to explain to him this morning about how to get back into an echelon and how to ride and then he just goes and smashes it. You’ve either got it or you haven’t and he’s certainly got it. Class.”
Rider of the day

Although both Bernal and Kwiatkowski impressed with their willingness to push on at the front of the race, it was Rowe - racing on his 29th Birthday - who led the way, forging numerous gaps in the closing 50 kilometres. The Welshman, who missed Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne due to illness, is clearly back to 100%.
Up next

As Rowe pointed out this year's Paris-Nice is a race of two halves, with three flat days, before the crucial individual time trial and three mountain battles.

Tomorrow's second stage is likely to be a more traditional sprint battle - but the weather could well play its part again.
Stage one result:

1. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) 3:17:35
2. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) s.t.
3. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck - Quick-Step)
4. Sam Bennett (Bora - hansgrohe)
5. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo)
15. Egan Bernal (Team Sky) s.t.

General Classification:

1. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) 3:17:35
2. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) +0:04"
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) +0:05"
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) s.t.
5. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) +0:06"