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Host: Welcome to the GCN Racing News Show.

Coming up this week, Paris-Nice, the last pro bike race you'll see in some time.

We have also got the Sheffield Magnificent 7, but this week's racing new show is dominated

by the news that there won't be much racing in the coming weeks and months.

[music] Let's start with what racing we did have.

Paris-Nice, The Race to the Sun, lived up to its name and reputation last week with

seven days of absolutely brilliant racing.

Many thought the race shouldn't have gone ahead or at least continued to where it did,

but organizers, ASO, managed to take it through to the penultimate day, albeit with a vastly

reduced peloton.

Stages two and three were battered by bad weather, crosswinds, and crashes.

Nairo Quintana and Julian Alaphilippe had their GC hopes dashed by a crash and mechanical,

respectfully, on stage two, which was won by a small group from Giacomo Nizzolo.

That was Team NTT's sixth win of the year so far, just one short of their total tally

from 2019.

The following day's finish was also marred by this crash.

Announcer: Bol sits and waits on the wheel of Michael Matthews.

Peter Sagan is involved in this, a crash on the left-hand side.

Host: How Caleb Ewan held that up, I still do not know.

Anyway, it put an end to his chances of a stage win.

He and Hofstetter crossed the line relatively unscathed, while Sam Bennett was shepherded

across the finish by his teammates, blood dripping from his hand.

To add to his injuries, the Irish champion was also fined CHf 800 and docked 40 UCI ranking

points that evening by the UCI for this maneuver in the closing kilometers with Nairo Quintana.

Taking advantage of the melee behind him in the finishing straight was Ivan Garcia Cortina

of Bahrain-McLaren.

He got the jump on everybody else including Peter Sagan, who had to settle for second

place on the day.

The biggest win of the Spaniard's career, and you'd imagine, the first of many.

We move on to the time trial.

World hour record holder Victor Campenaerts shaved his beard off especially for it, although

that didn't seem to help him too much on the day where he could only manage sixth place.

The early pace on the stage was set by fellow Belgian Thomas De Gendt of Lotto Soudal.

Here, is his power, 425 watts average for just under 19 minutes according to his data

on Strava.

Still, in the end it was only good enough for fourth place and, somewhat surprisingly,

means that Thomas De Gendt has yet to win a time trial in his professional career.

Which was also the case for Soren Kragh Andersen of Team Sunweb, until Thursday that was.

He rode the time trial of his life to finish ahead of race leader Max Schachmann and compatriot

Kasper Asgreen.

That ride put Schachmann in a very commanding position on the general classification, almost

one minute clear of everybody else.

Stage five was one of the most nail-biting finishes that I've seen in a long time.

Announcer: --behind, they're approaching.

The sprint is starting and it's going to be Barbier to have a go, behind Michael Matthews,

trying to lead out Cees Bol as well.

Tratnik's still going now, he can see the line.

They can see him.

It's 200 meters to go now for Tratnik.

It's going to be so tense, it's going to be so tight.

Bonifazio having a go on the right-hand side.

It could well be heartbreak.

Tratnik's there, Tratnik has his heart broken.

It's Bonifazio to the line.

Oh my word.

Host: Poor Jan Tratnik, away for over 225 kilometers, and caught with 60 meters to go.

He really deserved that one, didn't he?

Although so too, did Niccolo Bonifazio, who was head-and-shoulders above everybody else

in that final sprint.

That was the first World Tour win for his team, Total Direct Energie, since this race

two years ago.

That stage had yet more crashes and one of serious consequence for Mike Woods of EF Pro

Cycling, who was taken to Lyon Hospital and diagnosed with a broken femur.

I wish you all the best in your recovery, Mike.

There was yet more drama on stage six, some of it before the stage even started.

Bahrain-McLaren decided not to start the stage due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19, and

with a whole host of other riders also going home, it meant we were down to just 109 riders

in the peloton at the start of the day.

Race organizers, ASO, also announced that morning that the last stage would not take

place and that the end of Paris-Nice would be the finish line of stage seven.

It didn't seem to take anything away from the racing though, in what was yet another

gripping finale.

Tiesj Benoot finished off some incredible work by his team, Sunweb, to take his first

win for them and his third as a pro rider, Behind him though, the yellow jersey was in

trouble.

In the end, the German champion would cross the line 36 seconds behind Benoot to safely

defend yellow, but he was subsequently awarded with the same time as the group of Michael

Matthews, who came in 18 seconds before him, because the crash was inside the last three

kilometers of the stage.

A decision which left many scratching their heads, the incident was entirely Schachmann's

fault.

Which leads us on to this week's poll over on the GCN app.

Should you be given the same time as the group you're in if a crash in the last three kilometers

was entirely your own fault, yes or no?

You'll be able to find the link to that poll on the screen right now.

Speaking of which, last week's poll was also crash-related and also in Paris-Nice.

We asked you if a rider should be allowed to draft behind a team car after being involved

in a crash.

Here are the results.

58% of you saying yes you should be able to.

The final day and the only mountain of the race.

A final opportunity then for Thomas De Gendt to do what he does best.

He formed part of the early breakaway and then left everybody up the final climb, the

Valdeblore la Colmiane where her was cheered on by former teammate, Victor Campana who's

now with team NTT.

In the end, it wasn't to be.

Even the power of De Gendt couldn't hold the pure climbers at bay.

It was some power, his normalized was 339 watts for close to five hours according to

ammattipyöräily on Twitter, although that was some way off his best according to De

Gendt himself on Twitter.

Apparently, back on the final stage of the 2017 Volta Catalunya, he had a normalized

power of 383 Watts for 3 hours and 12 minutes.

Incredible stuff.

Anyway, back to the stage.

Nairo Quintana attacked with four kilometers to go in the big ring and was never seen again.

Admittedly, he wasn't a threat on the general classification by that point, but I don't

think anybody would have threatened him anyway.

He came home over 40 seconds clear of everybody else to take his fifth win of the season so

far for ArkéaSamsic.

Behind, Tiesj Benoot put in another solid ride to finish second, although it wasn't

enough to prise the jersey from Schachmann who held on to it by 18 seconds, which incidentally

was the exact amount of time he gained by being given the same time as the group he

crashed out from the previous day.

Anyway, you've got to say it was a very well-deserved overall win.

He is the first rider to lead Pais-Nice from start to finish since his compatriot Jörg

Jaksche did so back in 2004, and so, he is this week's GCN Ride of the Week.

Benoot finished second overall and with the green points jersey, Higuita, third with the

white jersey as best young rider.

Nicolas Edet with the polka dot as best climber and Team Sunweb with the team's classification.

That was the end of that for an indefinite period of time.

We now head into the unknown, not just for the cycling, but for the world in general.

I should stick to cycling though as we discuss the ramifications of the coronavirus on the

2020 season.

Now, the first implication that it had on pro cycling was at the UAE tour where the

last two stages were canceled due to suspected positive cases.

Now, that was only two and a half weeks ago, but it feels like an eternity, doesn't it?

In the last week, Fernando Gaviria, who was at that race took to Instagram, said he has

recovered from the virus whilst teammate and lead-out man Max Richeze also tested positive

and remains in quarantine in Abu Dhabi.

Since then, race after race has been canceled or postponed.

First, it was the Italian spring races.

Then, it was announced that all sports in Belgium would be canceled until the 1st of

April, taking out races such as Gent-Wevelgem and E3-Prijs.

After that, it was the Volta Catalunya, the Ronde van Drenth, Grand Prix Denain and then,

the biggest of all so far, the Giro d'Italia.

Now, the first three stages had been due to take place in Hungary, a country which has

declared a national state of emergency.

I think we all expected it.

I know I did, but it was still quite a shock to read their press release and see the news

in black and white.

That race goes beyond cycling.

It's a national event, a national celebration.

It's a race which transcends the sport and which has been run every year since World

War II.

You know that if there was any chance of that race going ahead as planned, it would have.

Other races soon followed suit.

Even the Women's Tour, which had been due to take place here in the UK in June, three

months away.

Thus far, that is the most speculative cancellation of all and another indication of just how

much this season could be affected.

The Tour of Flanders which did manage to continue through World War II, looks like it will have

no option but to postpone this year's event.

That was due to take place on the first weekend in April and you imagine that Pijl, they will

follow suit.

Of course, it goes far beyond bike racing.

Tejay van Garderen left Paris-Nice to head home to the US before it closed its borders

to the incoming flights from Europe.

Italy has been on lockdown with only pro riders able to go out on their bikes.

This was the scene that greeted Jacopo Guarnieri as he road over the A1 Autostrada which would

normally be heaving.

He said he felt like he was in a movie.

Spain too, has banned cycling and is handing out hefty fines for those silly enough to

venture out regardless.

Now let's be clear on this, the authorities are not worried that a rider out training

will spread COVID-19.

They're taking these measure to ensure that hospital beds and staff are not being used

by someone who's falling off their bike.

As things stand, this looks like some of it is going to get a hell of a lot worse before

it gets better.

It has put bike racing into perspective.

I don't think that means we can't be sad about missing out on bike races that we love.

Here at GCN and GCN Racing, we'll be making as much cycling content as we can under the

circumstances to help us all get through this difficult period.

Right, let's finish this week's GCN Racing News Show with something a bit more positive.

The 2020 Magnificent Seven did take place at the weekend.

It's a 45 kilometer event with over 1,200 meters of climbing.

Now, rather than first across the line wins, this is an event where cumulative points across

seven lines at the top of the steepest climbs that Sheffield has to offer decide the winners.

In the men's, Ali Slater of Clancy Briggs Academy took the spoils at the first climb

of the day, ahead of Kieran Savage, but those results were reversed on the second ascent

of Waller Road.

The third climb, Hagg Hill was the hardest of the day, savage in more ways than one as

Kieran again took maximum points.

The fourth climb was a new edition to the event, Ivy Park, 800 meters at an average

gradient of 13%.

By this point, Savage was flying, taking that one too, and putting himself in a commanding

position for the overall title.

He didn't have it all his own way though.

The fifth climb was Blake Street, the steepest in the area, and one that appears to suit

Kieran Smith.

He took that one last year and again this year.

Savage was back to his winning ways on Back Lane.

Then second on the final climb of Burnt Hill, making him the comfortable winner of the event.

The women rode the same seven climbs as the men, with Hannah Larbalestier, winner of the

last two editions, starting as the big favorite.

However, she faced strong opposition from Brother UK rider Rebecca Richardson, who stormed

out the first two climbs to take maximum points on each.

In the end, she would win six of the seven climbs, and therefore be crowned queen of

the mountains for 2020.

Larbalestier would do enough to finish second on the day, ahead of Hannah Bayes.

Right, that is all for this week's GCN Racing News Show.

I'll be back next week with-- well, I'll be back next week with a nice surprise hopefully

for you all.

I look forward to seeing you then.

In the meantime, stay safe everybody.

Bye for now.

The Description of The Last Pro Bike Races You'll See For Some Time | GCN's Racing News Show