To the delight of home fans, Frenchman Rudy Molard became the fourth home rider to win a stage at Paris-Nice 2018 in stage 6.

To the delight of home fans, Rudy Molard became the fourth Frenchman to win a stage at Paris-Nice 2018. The Groupama-FDJ rider snuck away from a select group of riders to win stage 6 Friday in Vence, France.

Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) sprinted to second after 198km of racing. Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe finished the day in third. Wout Poels (Sky), one of the key pre-race favorites, was felled by a crash in the final kilometers.

Stage 6, top 10

Top-10 overall

With Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) off the front on a short descent before the final rise to the line, Poels blew a high-speed corner. The Dutchman found himself tangled with a guardrail, seven kilometers from the stage finish. He was forced to abandon the race with a broken left collarbone.

“Left thoracic trauma, left clavicle fracture, left knee wound,” the Paris-Nice medical service said, adding that Poels was evacuated to a regional hospital for evaluation.

“Poels was ahead of me on the descent and we were all going fast when he fell on a corner. It’s a real shame to see him go like that, I hope he gets over it soon,” said overall leader Luis Leon Sanchez.

Back at the front, Wellens took up the chase with less than 6km to go. Sky’s Henao was quick to follow the Belgian’s move.

However, Henao lost touch as soon as Wellens caught Yates.

“When Yates had jumped away, I bridged the gap with Henao on my wheel but he got dropped,” said Wellens. “It’s a pity that Yates didn’t go full gas because we could have stayed ahead till the finish.”

The two leaders were caught with 3km to go, and Molard quickly attacked. Jon Izagirre followed the move, drawing out other riders.

It was all back together inside of 2km to go, but Molard was not finished. The Frenchman attacked again just outside of the final kilometer and took a convincing lead while the others hesitated. It was his first career WorldTour victory.

“The French are doing well in this Paris-Nice,” Molard said. “There are two days left and Alaphilippe is well placed in the general.”

The 28-year-old is based in nearby Antibes and was able to call on local knowledge. “I live a 30-minute bike ride away, I’ve been here dozens of times, these are my training routes,” Molard said.

Astana’s Sanchez kept his overall lead, finishing fourth on the day. He will face a greater challenge Saturday in stage 7 as the 175km stage from Nice to Valdeblore La Colmiane finishes atop the 1,500-meter climb of Valdeblore La Colmiane.

Stage 6 results

General classification