With the UCI road World Championships taking place later this week the 110th edition of Paris Tours proved to be a key dress rehearsal for those riders looking to pull on the coveted rainbow jersey.
The 110th edition of Paris Tours saw Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-Quickstep) ride away from the sprinters in the finishing straight to take the victory. Arnaud Demare (FDJ) was second and third place went to Jonas van Genechten (IAM Cycling).
The 252km French one day race was always going to be a fast affair as the flat course lent itself perfectly to the big sprint teams. An early seven rider breakaway animated the early part of the race but Dimension Data for Qhubeka, Cofidis, FDJ and Etixx-Quickstep sent riders to the head of the peloton to contribute to the pace-making which kept the gap under control. Saffers Jay Thomson and Johann van Zyl did the lion share of the work in the wind for Africa’s team.
The race was run at a high pace with the average speed over 47km/h for the full 252km. At such speeds, it was difficult for the breakaway to stay ahead and in the end, with 15km to go, they were brought back into the field. There was a few late attacks, the most threatening coming from Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) but Italian rider, Kristian Sbaragli covered that move and it was clear that the sprinters would decide the race.
Mark Cavendish was being looked after for the finale but it was a rather disorganised sprint with teams constantly swapping control in the last kilometres. Coming into the finishing straight, Cavendish was coming from deep with good speed but Gaviria surprised everyone by jumping with 700m to go. The Colombian showed good strength to get a gap and then was able to hold it all the way to the line. With the victory sewn up meters before the line was reached, Cavendish sat up to roll across the line in 6th.