German cyclist John Degenkolb beat Dane Michael Morkov and Arnaud Demare of France on Sunday in a mass sprint to win the Paris-Tours classic.


Degenkolb completed the 235km trek from Authon-du-Perche to Tours in five hours, 29 minutes and 19 seconds.

“It was a fast and hectic race,” Degenkolb said. “The situation was always changing. We had a good plan and I think we rode a smart race.

“There was always someone from our team in the important groups, and there was always someone to take responsibility for the chase.”

Defending champion Marco Marcato of Italy attacked in the Cote de Beau Soleil and was followed by six riders – Degenkolb, Morkov, Dutchman Jetse Bol, Sep Vanmarcke of Belgium, Demare and fellow and Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel.

Bol escaped 6km from the finish but could not hold off a late charge from the pack in the last kilometre.

Degenkolb was tipped as a strong favourite after winning the Paris-Bourges race on Thursday. Demare made his move on the Avenue de Grammont but was overtaken by the powerful Argos-Shimano rider, who earned his sixth victory of the season.

“He raced a really classy race,” Argos-Shimano manager Christian Guiberteau said. “He was the top favourite, and that’s not an easy position to be in. But he was always in control in the finale and no one could stop him in the end.”

Bryan Coquard of France, a 2012 Olympic runner-up in the omnium, fell in a crash about 24km from the finish. The Frenchman managed to get back onto his bike and rejoined the pack but was out of contention in the sprint.

In the first hour of the race, Sebastian Lander of Denmark, Latvian Aleksejs Saramotins and Frenchmen Yannick Martinez and Julien Duval broke away to build a lead that stretched to 11 minutes. But the pack reeled them in with 11km left.