NICE, France – Young Spaniard Marc Soler snatched victory at Paris-Nice from Briton Simon Yates with a daring breakaway on Sunday’s soaked final stage.
Soler finished the stage around Nice in third behind breakaway companions and compatriots David de la Cruz and Omar Fraile.
Yates came home sixth in a group some 35 seconds behind Soler, meaning the Spaniard snatched overall victory by just four seconds.
Soler had started the day 37sec behind Yates in sixth overall, but took bonus seconds in an intermediate sprint and as he rolled over the finish line three seconds behind De la Cruz and Fraile.
Soler didn’t have the legs to contest the sprint finish, with Sky’s De la Cruz overhauling Fraile at the death.
Fraile had launched a solo breakaway with 47km left of the mountainous 110km stage riden in driving rain.
Soler and De la Cruz took off after him and 5km later they linked up to form a three-man breakaway group with three of the six categorised climbs of the day still to come.
They increased their lead to 1min 30sec at one stage.
Yates had few teammates left to help him and the disorganised chase group broke up under pressure of attacks by Spanish brothers Ion and Gorka Izagirre, who had started the day in second and third at 11sec and 12sec behind Yates.
But they crashed with just 5km remaining allowing Yates’s group to catch them.
Gorka Izagirre took bonus points in the first intermediate sprint of the day to jump above his brother to finish third overall at 14sec.