Catalan allrounder completes sensational exhibition at mountain showdown around Nice with 40km attack to claim overall honours in the ‘Course to the Sun’, a tremendous success at only 24 years of age
Big glory at age 24. Marc Soler has confirmed on Sunday he’s one of the biggest riders in the WorldTour peloton by winning the 2018 edition of Paris-Nice. The Catalan rider from the Movistar Team completed a supreme exhibition on the final day of the French event -111km starting and finishing in the capital city of the Côte d’Azur-, a brutal effort that earned him a place in the prestigious palmarès of the ‘Course to the Sun’.
In a day thoroughly covered in rain and with impressive pace over the hilly route, including no less than six rated ascents, Soler launched an attack with 45km remaining in company of fellow Spaniards David de la Cruz (SKY) and Omar Fraile (AST). The attempt always kept a gap between 30 seconds and one minute over the group of favourites, containing a strong Richard Carapaz, who kept an eye on all dangerous moves.
The battle for overall success stayed alive until the very finish line. Soler’s effort, pushing hard alone at the front of the trio for the final 2km, was enough for him to take the last yellow jersey, with four seconds on Simon Yates (MTS) and 14″ on former team-mate Gorka Izagirre (TBM), who rounded out the overall podium.
Soler’s remarkable success is the 8th win of the 2018 season for the Movistar Team, as well as the third UCI triumph for Marc –he had ‘only’ notched up the overall classification of the 2015 Tour de l’Avenir and the Queen stage of the 2016 Route du Sud-, and puts the Catalan allrounder up to second in the UCI WorldTour individual standings.
REACTION / Marc Soler:
“I can’t believe it yet. All my team-mates worked hard for me all week, and happily we were able to finish this off for them in such a great way. I wasn’t expecting to take this one, especially after the time I lost on Saturday’s finish. However, we reset our minds, planned a good strategy with our team-mates and sports directors, choosing to launch a long-range attack. We thought there would be a big breakaway like in last year’s final stage, but it didn’t happen. Fraile was already ahead and I jumped into the third-to-last climb – the point where I had planned to move – to leave the bunch behind. De la Cruz and Ion joined me there, we David and myself opened a gap – and it was just full-gas until the finish.
“I hadn’t won a WorldTour event before, and it’s a big dream come true for me. Joining such big names on the palmarès of this prestigious race is amazing. Now we must go step by step – it’s not like you must change things after such a win, you must remain calm and keep things coming to you. The most important thing now is to keep on progressing and doing things right. I feel a little bit stronger with every year passing. I’ve got used to the pace of pro cycling and I just think about working hard to continue improving. My next race will be the home one for me, the Volta a Catalunya, where I’ll be supporting Alejandro and Nairo.”