TOURS, France (VN) — Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM) won the 106th Paris-Tours in a two-up sprint out of a three-man break on Sunday.
The Italian dashed to the line ahead of Laurens De Vreese (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) with Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) third after Argos-Shimano sprinter John Degenkolb launched a last-ditch attack that fell just short of success.
The action got under way from the gun as Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) launched an early break with teammate Jérôme Pineau; Karsten Kroon and Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank); Gatis Smukulis (Katusha); Yannick Talabardon (Saur-Sojasun); Koen De Kort (Argos-Shimano); Lazlo Bodrogi (Team Type 1-Sanofi), Wilco Kelderman (Rabobank); and Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEdge).
The group quickly built a lead of four minutes and was only retrieved 30km from the line, save for Morkov, who soldiered on until a counterattack swept him up with 17km to go.
Marcato, Terpstra and De Vreese emerged from this group and with less than 20km remaining in the 235.5km race they clung to just a couple dozen seconds’ advantage over a charging peloton.
BMC Racing had Manuel Quinziato and two others on the front of the chase, trimming the escapees’ lead to 14 seconds with as many kilometers remaining.
A crash with 12.5km remaining split the pursuit, and a few kilometers later Adam Blythe (BMC) had a brief go on the narrow roads, trying to bridge to the break, which was down to Marcato, Terpstra and De Vreese.
The trio had 21 seconds’ advantage with 4km to go, but De Vreese seemed to be running out of steam. As they hit 2km to go Degenkolb, seeing his hopes for a sprint finish slipping away, attacked from the chase.
Going under the red kite the break had 19 seconds on the charging Degenkolb and the cat-and-mouse began. That gave the Argos sprinter the chance he needed to close the gap — but he didn’t have the legs to finish it off, and Marcato proved fastest of the three breakaways.
De Vreese hung on for second with Terpstra third. Degenkolb missed the podium, crossing six seconds behind for fourth, while Laurent Pichon (Bretagne-Schuller) took the bunch sprint for fifth, just ahead of defending champ Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).
“Today I’m really really happy,” said Marcato. “I have to say thanks to the team first because they believed in me today. And then I want to say thanks also to my family, because always they support me. I did a good season and now I can go on holiday free in the mind.”
Terpstra was likewise pleased with the outcome and looking forward to a change of pace — in his case, racing the Six Days of Amsterdam later this month.
“I had a great feeling all day,” Terpstra said. “In the final part of the race I attacked with Marcato and De Vreese and we went. I really went for it, for the victory, but at the final sprint Marcato was really strong – there was nothing to do for me.
“Honestly, I have no regrets about this race. I’m happy with this result. The entire team was great. Everybody was still motivated. It was a great season for me and it’s nice to finish my road races with such a good result.”