Mar 7, 2016 – France’s Arnaud Demare of the FDJ team won a sprint finish for the first stage of the Paris-Nice race on Monday as Australia’s Michael Matthews holds the race lead.

AFP/James Startt

Demare, junior world champion in 2011 and French champion in 2014, crossed ahead of Britain’s Ben Swift and France’s Nacer Bouhanni after the 198km stage between Conde-sur-Vesgre and Vendome.

Swift launched the sprint but was caught with Demare, 24, claiming his second success of the season after winning a stage in the Tour of the Mediterranean last month. “It’s a victory that I’ve waited a long time for,” said Demare, whose dream remains success on the Paris-Roubaix on April 9.

Matthews crossed in fifth to hold the leader’s yellow jersey despite the freezing conditions. “I’m not afraid of extreme conditions,” said the Orica team leader. “My team worked all day and I found myself a bit isolated in the final lap. I had to keep an eye on the general classification guys.”

Tuesday’s second stage will favor the sprinters, covering 213.5km from Contres to Commentry in central France.


Final kilometers of Stage 1

Results Stage 1:
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ 4:29:53
2. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
4. Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie
5. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
7. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
8. Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
9. Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
10. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky

General Classification:
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 4:37:30
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:03
3. Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:04
4. Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:08
5. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
6. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team 0:00:09
7. Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling 0:00:10
8. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:12
9. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ 0:00:14
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:15