Matteo Trentin (Etixx-Quick Step) held off the challenge of Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) to win his first Paris-Tours title.
The Italian, who won a stage of the Tour of Britain in September, attacked in the final 10km to leave the finish down to three riders, but with Greg Van Avermaet suffering a technical in the last 1,500m Trentin was left to battle it out with the Lotto rider for the win.
The race action started from the off, with Giacomo Nizzolo involved in a crash within the first kilometre, leaving him unable to continue as the peloton saw an early split.
A large second group struggled to regain any ground on the leaders through the duration of the race, while the peloton sat over 10 minutes down on the eventual winner by the time they reached Tours.
The main contenders for the sprinter’s classic were all present and correct in the front group as the race reached its final 50km, with Arnaud Démare (FDJ), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Edward Theuns (Topsport-Vlaanderen) and Trentin ensuring they were in with a shot of the win.
Julien Duval, riding for the third tier French Army team, tried his luck out the front of the leading group with 25km to go and when he was caught with 18km left he was replaced out front by teammate Romain Combaud and Brétagne-Séché Environnement’s Arnaud Gerard.
The pair increased their advantage over the chasers to nearly 20 seconds, but with a large group on their tails they were unable to keep their advantage to the finish line.
An attack by Trentin saw a group of four riders, including BMC’s Van Avermaet, go up the road and quickly distance themselves from the pack. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Pawel Brutt was dropped as Van Avermaet upped the pace, but Van der Sande stayed with the move.
All of the impetus went out of the chase group, allowing the gap to the three escapees to grow to almost 30 seconds with 2.5km to go. Van Avermaet worked hard on the front to ensure his group stayed away, and so it did.
With a mile left, Van Avermaet pulled wide and stuck his arm up in the air to indicate he had a front-wheel puncture, but with such little racing to go the Belgian had to carry on regardless.
As Trentin and Van der Sande opened up their sprints, Van Avermaet was left helpless as his bike would not allow him to challenge. Trentin started his sprint first and kept his slender advantage over Van der Sande to the line as Van Avermaet wheeled across for third place.
Paris-Tours result (231km)
1. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx-Quick Step, 4-39-12
2. Tosh Van der Sande (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, st
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC, at 4s
4. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 20s
5. Roy Jans (Bel), st
6. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx-Quick Step, st
7. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling, st
8. Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport-Vlaanderen, st
9. Mike Teunissen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, st
10. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto-Soudal, st