Schachmann wins shortened Paris-Nice cycling race
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Germany's Maximilian Schachmann of the Bora-Hansgrohe team won the Paris-Nice cycling race on Saturday, holding on in a frantic climb to a summit finish where he fell to the ground exhausted.
The race was one of the rare sporting events to escape postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic, until the final stage to south coast city Nice set for Sunday was cancelled.
France's next major cycling race is the one-day classic Paris-Roubaix set for April 12, but there is serious doubt this will go ahead given the massive crowds it attracts. There are also fears for the one-week Criterium de Dauphine, run through the Alps in early June, and even the Tour de France itself, given the COVID-19 crisis in France.
Schachmann, who won the opening stage in a cross-wind on the plains outside Paris last Sunday, tightened his grip in the time-trial on Wednesday before clinging on during a 16km climb and summit finish Saturday.
"The last three kilometres were hell, but now I'm in heaven. This is the greatest victory of my life," said Schachmann. "This is just the beginning, my dream has always been to become a GC rider," he said in reference to the elite group who contest overall victory in cycling tours.
He won overall by 18 seconds from Belgium's Tiesj Benoot with Colombian rookie Sergio Higuita in third at 59sec. Pre-race favourite, Colombian climber Nairo Quintana, fell on day one but took this seventh and final stage of the 'Race to the Sun' after a lightning attack earned him a solo win for his new team Arkea-Samsic.