The final image of the 2020 Paris-Nice is also the week’s most vivid, its most emblematic, the one most likely to outlive the scourge of the previous week and coming months. Max Schachmann lies prostrate on the tarmac like a martyr on the canvas of an Old Master. He is the winner of this dark, almost Caravaggian edition of Paris-Nice, yet is silent and motionless, almost alarmingly so. Until, out of nowhere, he shrieks in jubilation, jerks back to a sitting position and laughs at everyone he’s managed to startle.

Schachmann was the rider of the week. German cycling has had a few stars and four winners of Paris-Nice this century (Andreas Klöden in 2000, Jörg Jaksche in 2004 and Tony Martin in 2011). But never, to my mind, has it produced a personality as ebullient as the Berliner. In his ever-present smile, his unfaltering joie de vivre, the f*ck-why-not spirit with which the 26-year-old announced on the final morning that, if Nairo Quintana attacked at the bottom of

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