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"When we hit the Col d'Eze I was in good position, but then I started to suffer. I fought with all my energy, but there was a gap between me and the first group. I tried to survive and I put all my energy in the chase. but I didn&#...

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele






17.03.2014 @ 12:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Zdenek Stybar had a WorldTour podium within reach when he sat in third ahead of the final stage of Paris-Nice. However, the cyclo-cross world champion lost it all when he failed to keep up with the best on the Col d'Eze and dropped to 15th in the final standings.


Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Zdenek Stybar tried to fight back after losing contact with the yellow jersey group on Cat. 1 Col d'Eze at km 114.5 of 128km Paris-Nice Stage 8 on Sunday.


Unfortunately, with many abandons earlier in the stage, Stybar was left to battle with not many riders to help chase. He still earned a 23rd place finish in the final stage, and kept himself in the top 15 of the GC. Jan Bakelants also finished 17th.


The yellow jersey group was able to catch solo rider Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), who had attacked shortly after the climb with Simon Spilak (Katusha). Arthur Vichot (FDJ) won the bunch sprint. Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) was 2nd, and Cyril Gautier (Team Europcar) was 3rd.


Stybar was 3rd in the GC entering the stage. He had strong performances throughout, keeping up with some of the strongest GC contenders in the peloton even on the steep climbs.


"This morning I was pretty confident about the possibility to defend my third place," Stybar said. "The team worked well for me and I took also one second of bonification in the first sprint.


"When we hit the Col d'Eze I was in good position, but then I started to suffer. I fought with all my energy, but there was a gap between me and the first group. I tried to survive and I put all my energy in the chase. but I didn't find great collaboration to try to come back.


"It's a pity, I really wanted to keep this third place. But that's sport and you have to live with it and try to get the best out of this experience. I still miss some experience in these kind of races, but by doing them it is the best way to learn and get stronger. In those days i showed that I have a good condition so ìm looking forward to the next races starting from Milano-Sanremo."



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