Hugo Houle’s Paris-Nice time trial on Thursday was strong enough to keep his 11th place in the GC. Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland/Sky) padded his lead atop the Paris-Nice standings by taking third place. Simon Yates earned the victory; he has won a stage of the last seven stage races he has entered, including last year’s Paris-Nice, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.
Houle managed to be one of the few riders who avoided wind and crash disasters in the first two stages. Riders like Jon Izagirre, Angel Lopez, Simon Yates, Esteban Chaves and last year’s winner Marc Soler were anywhere from 11:30 to 21:11 behind Kwiatkowski overnight.
There was a one-kilometre hill to climb just past the midway point of 25.5-km. But the climb to Abbeye de Saint-Michel de Frigolet was only 4.2 percent. A little ramp led to the finish line. Most riders took from 19 to 20-minutes to reach the abbey and then 11 to 12 minutes to return to Barbentane.
Barbentane, a small village in Provence, hosts a #ParisNice stage today for the first time in history: a 25.5km ITT which promises to brings some major changes in the overall classification. pic.twitter.com/PQXF0A9owp
— Deceuninck-QuickStep (@deceuninck_qst) March 14, 2019
Yates sat on the hot seat for a long time with 30:26, having bumped EF Education First’s Tom Scully. EF’s Tie-dyed Armada had a fine day, packing the top-10 with four riders.
— Mitchelton-SCOTT (@MitcheltonSCOTT) March 14, 2019
Fourth place Egan Bernal, Kwiatkowski’s teammate, was doing well by the time he reached the abbey. Kwiatkowski was six seconds slower than Bernal atop the hill, and second place LL Sanchez was a second faster than the Pole.
Kwiatkowski would come back strong on the second half to take third place, with only Yates and Nils Politt faster than him. His lead over second place Bernal is 19-seconds, with Sanchez 28-seconds in arrears. Bernal and Sanchez are the only riders within a minute of Kwiatkowski.
Houle finished at 31:53, 36th on the day.
The queen stage is on Saturday.
2019 Paris-Nice Stage 5
1) Simon Yates (Great Britain/Mitchelton-Scott) 30:26
2) Nils Politt (Germany/Katusha) +0:07
3) Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland/Sky) +0:11
36) Hugo Houle (Canada/Astana) +1:27
2019 Paris-Nice GC
1) Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland/Sky) 17:23:00
2) Egan Bernal (Colombia/Sky) +0:19
3) LL Sanchez (Spain/Astana) +0:28
11) Hugo Houle (Canada/Astana) +1:39