Paris-Nice: Carlos Betancur completes victory as Arthur Vichot wins final stage
Last Updated: 16/03/14 6:56pm
Carlos Betancur, centre, beat Rui Costa, left, by 14 seconds
Carlos Betancur completed overall victory of Paris-Nice by finishing safely at the head of the race on a final stage won by France's Arthur Vichot.
Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) crossed the line after a frantic day in eighth place to seal a 14-second win over world champion Rui Costa.
Vichot (FDJ) picked up 10 bonus seconds for his victory and they proved pivotal, as they lifted him up to third overall, 20 seconds down on the winner.
Costa almost didn't finish the race after being involved in a crash 400m out as he and the other the riders remaining at the front of the field prepared to sprint for the line.
The Lampre-Merida rider needed treatment before getting back to his feet and although he eventually crossed the line several minutes after the winner, he was awarded the same time as the lead group due to the fact the crash happened in the last 3km.
The victory was the biggest result of Betancur's career to date and was his second win of the season following a triumph at the Tour du Haut Var stage race last month.
The Colombian said afterwards: "To wear the yellow jersey during four days is fantastic. I'm extremely happy."
The final stage of the eight-day race took place on a short but mountainous 125km route starting and finishing in Nice. After a large initial breakaway group had been caught on the descent from the fourth climb of the day, the category-one Cote de Peille, a new three-man escape led by Katusha's Yuri Trofimov immediately headed up the road.
Arthur Vichot sprinted to victory on stage eight
Trofimov later moved clear solo, but he too was swept up with 19km remaining as the peloton reached the foot of the concluding climb of the category-one Col d'Eze.
David Lopez (Team Sky) tried and failed to pull away on the lower slopes of the ascent, but Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) timed a subsequent attack just below the summit far better and when Simon Spilak (Katusha) joined him on the descent, the duo were able to open up a gap of 20 seconds with 8km remaining.
By now the front of the peloton had been reduced to just an elite bunch of riders and although Betancur looked tired, he managed to stay in the group as it all but caught Schleck and Spilak heading into the final 1km.
Schleck kicked again in a bid to stay away, but he was swept up with 100m to go as the fast men behind succeeded in setting up a sprint finish.
Britain's Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) finished the stage 22nd and the race 44th.
Stage eight result
1 Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ< 3:06:56
2 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar, same time
3 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar, st
4 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale, st
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin, st
6 Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory racing, st
7 Tom Jelte-Slagter (Ned) Garmin-Sharp, st
8 Carlos Betancur (Col) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
9 George Bennett (NZ) Cannondale, st
10 Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Bretagne-Seche Environnement, st
1 Carlos Betancur (Col) Ag2r-La Mondiale, 35:11:45
2 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, +14
3 Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ, +21
4 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar, +21
5 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +25
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, +29
7 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar, +31
8 Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling, +35
9 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, +36
10 Peter Velits (Svk) BMC, +39
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