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Published on 03-11-2024

The Team showed its worth during Paris-Nice

The Team’s first World Tour stage race of the season, Paris-Nice was held last week. On the program: 8 stages of various profiles, with increasing difficulty as the week progressed, combined with more than complicated race conditions in the hinterland of Nice. Despite all this, the Team emerged from the week’s competition with some positive signs, having demonstrated great performances throughout the week.

The race kicked off in Les Mureaux, in the Yvelines department, on Sunday March 3. Despite a few hills, this first stage appeared to be destined for the sprinters, but that didn’t stop Mathieu Burgaudeau from shining. In the breakaway for 120 km, our rider battled hard with the German Jonas Rutsch (EF Education-EasyPost) to take the points in the uphill sections. Mat’ finished the day with 7 points, 1 less than his rival, but this quest for the polka-dot jersey will follow him all week long. Anthony Turgis tried his luck solo with 10 km to go, but was finally caught shortly before the finish line, where Sandy Dujardin sprinted to 9th place.

Another flat stage the next day, but another Franco-German battle in the third-category climbs. Helped by Pierre Latour on the second hill, Mathieu Burgaudeau emerged victorious from this new confrontation, taking advantage of a new rule: throughout the week, points are doubled on the final climb of each stage. The finish was decided by a massive sprint, which resulted in another top 10 finish for the Team, with Dries Van Gestel in 7th place. Offensive and sharp throughout the day, Mamat’ even achieved the double at the end of the day: in addition to the polka-dot jersey, our rider was also awarded the combativity prize.

MONTARGIS, FRANCE – MARCH 04: Mathieu Burgaudeau of France and Team TotalEnergies celebrates at podium as Polka dot Mountain Jersey winner during the 82nd Paris – Nice 2024, Stage 2 a 177.6km stage from Thoiry to Montargis / #UCIWT / on March 04, 2024 in Montargis, France. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

For stage 3, a special exercise awaits our riders: the team time trial, with a 27 km loop around Auxerre. The team worked hard together, finishing 13th out of the 22 teams competing. As no points were awarded for the mountain classification, Mathieu Burgaudeau kept his distinctive tunic.

From stage 4 onwards, the difficulty of the race was stepped up a notch, with the first major mountain stage, featuring 7 listed difficulties and a finish at the summit of Mont Brouilly. Once again, Mathieu Burgaudeau came to the front to defend his polka-dot jersey. And his new opponent was Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan Team). The two men fought hard in the breakaway, and our rider kept his jersey at the end of the day, with a 7-unit lead. In the overall classification, Steff Cras pulled off a fine operation: coming in just 50 seconds behind the winner, the Belgian did well in the general classification and moved back into the top 20.

The following day, the Team was once again at the front, but with different men. Pierre Latour and Sandy Dujardin took part in the breakaway right from the start of the race, with the French climber making the most of the opportunity. Latour finished ahead of all the day’s mountain passes, accumulating 15 points for the mountain classification. In the sprint, Anthony Turgis and Dries van Gestel both finished in the top 15. Particularly hard-working in the leading group, Pierre was rewarded with the combativity prize at the end of the day. The Team thus achieved another double on the podium, with Mathieu Burgaudeau retaining his polka-dot tunic.

SISTERON,FRANCE – MARCH 07: Pierre Latour of France and Team TotalEnergies celebrates at podium as most combative rider prize winner during the 82nd Paris – Nice 2024, Stage 5 a 193.5km stage from Saint-Sauveur-de-Montagut to Sisteron / #UCIWT / on March 07, 2024 in Sisteron, France. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

Stage 6 began with a real battle at the front of the peloton for the lead. Attempts to break away were numerous, but systematically caught within a few kilometers. After a great team effort, Mathieu Burgaudeau finally managed to extract himself from the peloton, and fought another battle with Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan Team). The Italian crossed the first pass in the lead, but Mathieu responded in the best possible way, taking the lead on the next 3 difficulties, collecting 16 points, and strengthening his position as leader of the mountain classification, with 44 units. At the head of the race, Steff Cras competed with the leaders of the other teams and once again finished in the top 20.

In a special context, the 7th stage was finally held on Saturday March 9, but the route was modified and shortened due to weather conditions in the region. Made very complicated by the weather, this stage witnessed the retirement of no less than 12 riders, including Pierre Latour and Anthony Turgis. Steff Cras, still at the front and in contact with the contenders for the overall classification, finished 16th and achieved a fine result, rising 4 places overall to take 16th position. Despite a difficult day at the back, Mathieu Burgaudeau retained his polka-dot jersey at the end of the stage for the fifth time running.

Despite a relatively short route, the final stage of the week was expected to be an explosive affair, with many of the favourites for overall victory facing off against each other over a number of listed climbs. And the weather was once again capricious, making the task even more demanding. Some twenty riders were forced to give up, including our two Belgians, Dries Van Gestel and Steff Cras, who fell victim of hypothermia. Mathieu Burgaudeau, hampered early on by a mechanical problem, was unable to join the breakaway and so no longer had his fate in his own hands. Italy’s Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan Team) picked up many points and came level with Mat’, with 44 units. But in the end, it was stage winner and green jersey Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) who took first spot in the mountain classification with 47 points.

Despite a final day of competition that turned out badly for the Team, Benoit Genauzeau (Sport Director) drew positive conclusions from the week:

“We’re proud of the way the boys behaved, because since the start in Paris we’ve been on the offensive almost every day with this polka dot jersey guideline, which escaped us for 3 unfortunate points against a great rider, Remco Evenepoel. A little frustration with Steff, who was in hypothermia, that took all his energy and best willpower today. A slightly frustrating note, but one that shouldn’t overshadow the positive momentum we’ve built up throughout the week.”

03/03/2024 – Paris-Nice – Étape 1 – Les Mureaux / Les Mureaux (157,7km) – TOTALENERGIES

Our riders demonstrated an excellent state of mind throughout the week, loyal to the team values of fighting spirit and determination. The team was also proudly represented on the podiums, with two combativity prizes and the polka-dot jersey on Mathieu Burgaudeau’s shoulders for 6 days.