He­nao sur­vives Con­ta­dor’s fi­nal as­sault

New Straits Times - - Sport -

NICE: Ser­gio He­nao sur­vived yet an­other Al­berto Con­ta­dor on­slaught to win Paris-Nice, giv­ing un­der-pres­sure Team Sky their fifth ti­tle in six years in the Race to the Sun.

The Colom­bian won by just two sec­onds, sal­vaging his yel­low jer­sey in the fi­nal stage af­ter Spa­niard Con­ta­dor (Trek Se­gafredo) pulled away 50km from the fin­ish.

Con­ta­dor picked up two sec­onds in time bonuses at the in­ter­me­di­ate sprint and an­other six by tak­ing sec­ond place in the eighth stage be­hind com­pa­triot David De La Cruz (Quick Step Floors).

He­nao, who started the day with a 31-sec­ond ad­van­tage over Con­ta­dor, crossed the line 21 sec­onds af­ter his ri­val.

“I’m happy with my per­for­mance. It was not easy be­cause ev­ery­body knew that I would at­tack. How­ever, it was a beau­ti­ful day of cycling,” Con­ta­dor told re­porters.

Last year, Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas beat Con­ta­dor by four sec­onds to win Paris-Nice.

Sky have come un­der fire for failing to prove what was in a med­i­cal pack­age or­dered by a team doc­tor and de­liv­ered to Bradley Wig­gins at the 2011 Cri­terium du Dauphine.

Team Sky and Bri­tish Cycling have both been subject of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by UK Anti-Dop­ing (UKAD) into al­le­ga­tions of wrong­do­ing in the sport. Both have de­nied any dop­ing vi­o­la­tions.

“I ded­i­cate this vic­tory to the team, the staff... I am proud to be part of this team,” He­nao told re­porters.

Con­ta­dor, who says he’d rather be re­mem­bered as a beau­ti­ful loser than an ugly win­ner, was true to his swash­buck­ling style, launch­ing a long-range at­tack in the penul­ti­mate climb of the day.

He­nao was quickly dropped and Con­ta­dor’s lead grew past the minute.

But in the fi­nal de­scent and on the flat ride to the fin­ish in Nice, He­nao re­ceived help from some Bahrein-Merida rid­ers as he man­aged to re­duce the gap.

Con­ta­dor was beaten in a twoman sprint by De La Cruz, which cost him four sec­onds in time bonuses, and even­tu­ally the over­all win.

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