David De la Cruz (Sky) won the final stage of Paris-Nice for the second year-in-a-row, as Marc Soler (Movistar) took the overall title.

David De la Cruz (Sky) won the final stage of Paris-Nice for the second year-in-a-row, as Marc Soler (Movistar) took the overall title on an exciting day of racing along the Mediterranean coast.

“The Race to the Sun” did not live up to its name on Sunday, as rain poured down on the riders throughout the day. Soler began the stage sixth overall, only 37 seconds behind Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). He took the race into his own hands by going on the attack midway through the short 110-kilometer stage. He would have an able companion in De la Cruz and the duo would catch the sole leader at the time, Omar Fraile (Astana), rather quickly.

The trio would split to pieces on the final climb of the day, which peaked a mere nine kilometers from the finish, which was in the valley below in the heart of Nice. However, Soler, De la Cruz, and Fraile would get back together on the descent.

Meanwhile, race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) was in trouble behind. He was cracking under the pressure of attacks from the Izagirre brothers, Gorka and Ion (Bahrain-Merida), and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal). The Izagirre brothers would crash on the descent and by the time they got going again, the duo joined Yates in chasing Wellens.

Soler drove the leaders to the line, as he attempted to steal the yellow jersey away from Yates on the final day. The gap between Yates and him showed it was touch and go whether he would take the overall title.

De la Cruz took the stage win over Fraile with Soler in third. Soler received bonus seconds for capturing third on the day.

Yates and the Izagirre brothers would catch Wellens and the other attackers, as the road flattened out along the coast. The group powered to the line, but they would not hit the line fast enough for Yates. The Briton lost the overall title to Soler by a mere four seconds.

Gorka and Ion Izagirre finished third and fourth overall respectively.

Top-10 stage 8

Top-10 overall

The final stage of Paris-Nice on Sunday was a classic 110-kilometer jaunt that started and finished in the Mediterranean town of Nice. The climbs around Nice have seen many battles for the overall title in recent years and 2018 looked to be no different. The top four in the general classification were separated by just 13 seconds and the top eight places were all within a minute of each other. Six climbs were packed into the short stage with the final climb topping out just nine kilometers from the finish line.

De la Cruz, Jakob Fuglsang and Fraile (Astana) and Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) attacked on the first climb of the day, as the peloton shattered. Soon, just 24 riders remained in the chasing peloton and all of the heavy hitters were there. The leading quartet would be caught before the summit and Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) crossed the summit first to take the KOM points. De Gendt would seel the win in the competition on the second climb of the day.

An intermediate sprint came just 24 kilometers into the stage and saw the general classification contenders sprinting for the line. There were bonus seconds available for the top three placings. Gorka Izagirre took a three-second bonus with Wellens earning a two-second bonus and Yates a one-second bonus. Thus, Yates’ lead was down to just 10 seconds.

Julian Alpahilippe (Quick-Step Floors), Fuglsang, and Fraile attacked before the second climb of the day and built themselves an advantage of about 40 seconds over a group of about 20 riders including the yellow jersey of race leader Yates. Over the top of the climb, the trio took risks on the descent to try to extend their lead, as rain pelted the riders. Fuglsang would crash out of the lead, but he would remount and join the yellow jersey group.

The leading duo of Alaphilippe and Fraile worked well together over the third climb of the day, but Alaphilippe’s legs would give way on the fourth climb. Fraile left the Frenchman behind and set off alone with still nearly 50 kilometers to race. Meanwhile, attacks were coming out of the yellow jersey group with Soler, De la Cruz, and Gorka Izagirre all jumping ahead. Izagirre would drop back to the yellow jersey.

De la Cruz and Soler caught Fraile on the descent off of the fourth climb of the day, as the yellow jersey group was over a minute behind. Soler began the day just 37 seconds behind Yates. Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) was doing incredible work at the front of the yellow jersey group in support of Yates.

The leading trio stuck together over the penultimate climb of the day, the cat. 1 Col d’Eze, but Fraile set off alone on the descent. It wasn’t necessarily an attack, but more Fraile was the superior descender out of the trio. However, the trio was back together to begin the Col des Quatre Chemins, the final climb of the day. From the top, it was a fast nine-kilometer descent to the finish on the Mediterranean coast.

Race leader Yates suffered in the chase group on the final climb behind the leading trio. The Mitchelton-Scott rider lost contact with the riders that greatly threatened his yellow jersey. Wellens, the Izagirre brothers, and others jumped away from Yates on the climb.

Yates would get a bit of luck of the descent though, as Ion Izagirre crashed on a low-speed hairpin turn and took out his brother. Both riders remounted quickly, but they lost contact with Wellens. The brothers joined Yates’ group. It was the firepower that Yates needed to get back to Wellens.

The leading trio had separated on the climb, but they were back together on the descent. They held around a 40-second advantage over the Wellens group and an even larger advantage over the yellow jersey group. Soler looked set to be the 2018 winner of Paris-Nice.

The crash of the Izagirre brothers did not help Soler in capturing the overall title, as the Izagirre brothers helped Yates bridge to Wellens and reduce the gap to Soler. The bonus seconds available for the top three finishers were definitely going to play a part.

Soler led nearly the entire final kilometer, as De la Cruz and Fraile played poker behind him. Soler was the only one with a chance at overall victory and the other two were focused on the stage win. Soler would be gapped in the sprint to the line, as De la Cruz had enough to beat Fraile by just half a wheel.

Yates and company crossed the line 38 seconds behind De la Cruz and 35 seconds behind Soler. With the bonus seconds he earned, Soler took the overall title by a mere four seconds.

The Izagirre brothers finished alongside Yates to take third and fourth overall.

Full results stage 8

Final GC