Sheehan, the huge American surprise
October 8 th 2023 - 17:16
A crazy race, a completely undecided scenario in the hot dust of the vineyard paths, and a completely new winner: it's Riley Sheehan, a trainee with Israel-Premier Tech, who won this 117th Paris-Tours after a very close sprint against his four breakaway companions. It's the first victory for the 23-year-old American. A major first, too, for the United States, which had never won on Avenue de Grammont. The heroic Lewis Askey (Groupama – FDJ) who led all day, took second place ahead of Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno X).
157 riders set off in the shadow of the imposing Chartres Cathedral, bathed in bright sunlight, for the 117th edition of Paris-Tours. It was an emotional start for several riders, including Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën) and Tony Gallopin (Lidl-Trek), who pinned on their race numbers for the last time in their careers. After covering more than thirty kilometers at high speed, a group of five riders finally broke away: Lewis Askey (Groupama FDJ), Théo Delacroix (Intermarché Circus Wanty), Joseph Rosskopf (Q36.5), Maxime Jarnet (Van Rysel – Roubaix Lille Metropole), and Axel Narbonne Zuccarelli (Nice Metropole Côte d'Azur). The gap never reached extravagant proportions before the first challenges of the day.
Arnaud De Lie eliminated due to a mechanical issue
The Jumbo-Visma team of Christophe Laporte, the Lotto Dstny team of Arnaud De Lie and the Bora-Hansgrohe team of Jordi Meeus were controlling the offensive before entering the first vineyard path, Limeray, at 67.1 kilometers from the finish. In the ninth sector, the Lotto Dstny leader suffered a puncture, as did Jordi Meeus, who got caught in a crash. The peloton fragmented completely, marked by multiple attacks and punctures. In the dust, European champion Christophe Laporte, Greg Van Avermaet, Magnus Cort Nielsen or Jasper Stuyven, to name a few, lost precious energy trying to get back into the first group after mechanical problems. Arnaud De Lie, on the other hand, faced numerous setbacks, leaving his hopes in the dust.
Heroic performance by Lewis Askey
In front, the impressive Lewis Askey, only twenty-two years old, put up a strong resistance as the moves kept coming. Biniam Girmay (Intermarché – Circus Wanty) tried, as did Matteo Trentin (UAE) and John Degenkolb (DSM-Firmenich). There was no letup. The British rider was finally caught on the last difficulty of the day, the Rochecobron climb, by a group of four riders who had broken away about twenty kilometers from the finish: Olivier Le Gac (Groupama FDJ), Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno X), Riley Sheehan (Israel) and Joris Delbove (St Michel). Behind them, the Arkea Samsic team of the top favorite Arnaud Démare made the effort to close the gap before the famous Avenue de Grammont.
A first victory for the United States
However, their efforts were in vain as the breakaway group contested the victory in the shade of the plane trees. It was the American Riley Sheehan, only twenty-three years old and a trainee with Israel – Premier Tech, who proved to be the strongest at the end of an extremely close sprint.