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Greg Van Avermaet (far left) was part of a 17-man breakaway. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)
Greg Van Avermaet (far left) was part of a 17-man breakaway. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)

Velits Ninth Overall At Paris-Nice

16. March 2014

BMC Racing Team's Peter Velits finished ninth overall Sunday at Paris-Nice to earn his second top 10 result of the season in a stage race.

The Course:
Starting and finishing in Nice, the short, 128-kilometer stage featured five categorized climbs and a fast run-in to the finish.

A Big Breakaway:
Seventeen riders shook free from the peloton after 24 km, including BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet. But the group was not given much freedom and the last of the escapees was caught on the last climb, the Col d'Èze, with 19 km to go.

The Finish:
French national road champion Arthur Vichot (FDJ.fr) won a sprint from a group of fewer than two dozen riders as Velits finished 11th. World road champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) was one of several riders involved in a crash in the last kilometer.

Final Overall Standings:
Carlos Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale) became the first Colombian to win the race. Costa finished second, 14 seconds behind, while Vichot was third, at 20 seconds. Velits's ninth-place overall added to a ninth-place finish in February at the Dubai Tour and improved on his 10th place finish at this race a year ago.

What Velits Said:
"I am quite happy with the top 10 result. It was a bit of a special Paris-Nice. I would have preferred if there had been a time trial, which would have suited me better. Still, I am quite happy. The last stage was pretty hard. I suffered quite a bit. But I am happy I managed to stay in the final with the best guys. It was really a pity that we lost Tejay van Garderen in the beginning. Maybe the result would have been different. But the whole team did its best to achieve the best level that was possible."

What Sport Director Yvon Ledanois Said:
"It was not an easy race. It was a hard Paris-Nice. I am happy with all the guys. This was a good race for Peter because he is one of the important riders to Tejay for the next race. It was not easy after the first stage for the guys (following van Garderen's withdrawal due to illness). But Max Sciandri and I spoke to the guys and told them we are a big team and we needed a result. It was important for everyone. After the first stage, I didn't think it was possible. But good spirit and communication was important. And we got a top 10, so I am happy."

See photos from the race on the BMC Racing Team's Flickr gallery.

Listen to complete comments from Ledanois and Velits on the BMC Racing Team Audio Line.