Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) won Paris-Tours and Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) made an enemy of Niki Terpstra (Quick Step Floors).
The trio had the front of the race to themselves with 30 kilometers to go. The young Frenchman Cosnefroy refused to work, incurring the wrath of Terpstra, the winner of this year’s Tour of Flanders. The highlight of the action was Terpstra giving Cosnefroy a stream of verbal abuse.
Despite the tongue lashing, Cosnefroy continued to sit on as Andersen and Terpstra took turns to make sure the chase group of Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), Sep Vanmarcke (EF-Drapac) and Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) never got closer than 30 seconds.
It was Andersen who made the decisive move with ten kilometers to go, forcing a quick decision from Cosnefroy and Terpstra over who would chase. Answer, neither. It seemed at that point that the Dutchman preferred to give his young rival a lesson in how to win and lose a race.
Andersen motored across the finish line 30 seconds ahead of his breakaway companies, taking the biggest win of his career. “I didn’t really believe that this was possible,” said Andersen. “I had some tough weeks after the Tour de France, but I was focused today and I really wanted it so I’m super happy with the outcome.”
The final 60km of Paris-Tours raced through vineyards, nine gravel path sectors and up seven hills. The big changes in the course didn’t seem to bother Andersen. “It was really an awesome parcours – I really liked it. Some guys say it’s dangerous but you also have to adapt. I loved it. I can almost not believe it but yeah it was the first classic win for me.”
As for Terpstra, he continued to show his disgust at Cosnefroy as they raced the last few kilometers. He casually put the Frenchman in front to lead out the sprint, then took his time passing Cosnefroy so he could look across and with a dismissive glance. An expression that seemed to say, we could have won this race if you hadn’t sat on my wheel instead of chasing Andersen.
That’s bike racing. It will be a while before Cosnefroy gets verbally abused like that again.