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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

62nd Paris-Nice - 2.HC

France, March 7-14, 2004

Main Page    Stage details    Start list   Results

Stage 7 - March 13: Digne-les-Bains - Cannes, 185.5 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones

Complete live report

Start time: 12:40
Estimated finish time: 17:30

14:49 CET   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the seventh stage of Paris-Nice, the second of three tough mountain stages and one that should make a difference. Today's stage takes the riders to the southeast coast of France, travelling 186 km between Digne-les-Bains and Cannes. Along the way, there are some serious climbs to overcome, including four Cat. 3, one Cat. 2, and two Cat. 1 mountains. The toughest climbs are the Col d'Ayen (km 60), Col de Bourigaille(km 130) and the Cat. 2 Col du Tanneron (km 165), which comes at just 20 km to go. It could well be a stage like yesterday.

The race lead is still with CSC's Jorg Jaksche, who holds 14 seconds advantage over the ever-consistent Davide Rebellin. Jaksche's teammate Bobby Julich is in third, however the CSC team will have its work cut out today as Michael Blaudzun, Jakob Piil and Michele Bartoli have all abandoned. Also Frank Schleck (9th on GC) is sick as well. That's half the team gone, and CSC probably won't have too many friends in the bunch to help them today. Jaksche will have his work cut out, but he has shown himself to be the strongest on every stage.

15:42 CET    105km/81km to go
The riders are starting the Cat. 3 Col de St Amoux (km 118), followed by the Cat. 1 climb of the Col de la Bourigaille (km 130). The current situation on the road is that we have three leaders with 3'30 to the peloton.

15:50 CET    113km/73km to go
The three leaders: Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel), David Moncoutie (Cofidis), and Erik Dekker (Rabobank) have 3'25 over the peloton, which is being driving by CSC, T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner on the Col de St-Amoux.

15:54 CET    121km/65km to go
Erik Dekker won the mountain points on the St-Amoux in front of Moncoutie and Landaluze. The peloton, quite large, is on the descent, with CSC in front as usual.

Riders to abandon today include: Dessel, Belohvosciks, Ziegler, White, Geslin, Voeckler, Virenque, Bartoli, Piil and Blaudzun.

15:56 CET    126km/60km to go
The three leaders have started the Cat. 1 climb of the Col de la Bourigaille, with just over three minutes lead on the bunch. It's fairly steep at the bottom, and all three riders are out of the saddle.

The weather conditions at the moment are good. It's dry and sunny, but still quite cool and windy.

15:58 CET    127km/59km to go
Didier Rous, who was one of the first riders to attack, has just been dropped from the back of the peloton as they hit the climb. The reason: a flat front tyre. He takes a short cut while waiting for his team car, and is now under way. A nasty hill to chase on, that's for sure.

16:03 CET    129km/57km to go
Earlier in the stage, a 12 man break with Jaksche, VDB, George Hincapie (5th on GC) managed to reach the first sprint at Puimoisson (km 30). Hincapie won the sprint and thus took three bonus seconds. VDB took second and Jaksche was third, so his lead over Rebellin is now 15".

Australian champion Matthew Wilson (FDJeux.com) is just off the back of the peloton on this climb of the Col de la Bourigaille. Scott Sunderland (Alessio-Bianchi) is a little ahead of him, and both Australians will have to work to limit the damage over the last 55 km. You can follow Scott's diary on cyclingnews here.

Jens Voigt (CSC) is doing all the work on the front on the climb. He has been incredibly strong in this Paris-Nice.

16:06 CET    130km/56km to go
Benoit Joachim (USPS) is struggling to hang onto the back of the peloton, which is driven by Voigt and bobby Julich, with Jaksche in third wheel. Still a good 70-80 riders in the bunch.

Dekker, Landaluze and Moncoutie are nearing the top of the climb, but their lead has shrunk to around 2'30.

15:10 GMT   
David Millar, Alexandre Moos, Christophe Rinero are being dropped from the bunch which is continuing its relentless tempo up the Col de Bourigaille. In front of the peloton, Zulle, Rebellin, Rogers, Hincapie and Landis are all near the CSC boys.

The three leaders reach the top of the climb, and Moncoutie is passed by Dekker at the top. Landaluze doesn't contest it, and takes third. Mountains leader Aitor Osa (Illes Balears) attacks the bunch to take the points for fourth.

The time gap at the top is 1'40

16:13 CET    133km/53km to go
The road still climbs a bit before the descent, and Dekker and co. have to work hard for a little longer. Dekker is actually doing the most in front. However, Landaluze is the best placed on GC, lying 27th at 6.41.

16:20 CET    139km/47km to go
Dekker, Mouncoutie and Landaluze are on the descent of the Bourgaille with just 1'30 of their lead intact. The peloton is flying down behind them, still big enough for an organised chase to happen.

The last climb is the Col du Tanneron, which has its summit at 20 km to go. A 10 km descent followed by 10 km of flat will finish off the stage.

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) has abandoned.

16:23 CET    140km/46km to go
Dekker, Mouncoutie and Landaluze fly through Fayence with just over 45 km to go. There is a small uncategorised climb before the Col du Tanneron.

CSC has all five of its remaining riders in front of the peloton, pushing the pace as they have been all week. The gap is still around 1'40. All the GC riders (VDB, Rebellin, Julich, Hinacipe, Zulle, Rogers, Schlech) are at the front of the peloton.

16:28 CET    145km/41km to go
The pace has eased in the peloton slightly, and the three leaders now have 1'45 advantage. Immediately, the jerseys of Liberty Seguros, Fassa Bortolo and US Postal take over the pace making. They are interested in the stage win, and want Dekker and co. back in the fold!

16:35 CET    148km/38km to go
The three leaders reach the sprint in Montauroux with Landaluze taking the 3 seconds from Moncoutie and Dekker. The gap is just 0'50 now, with Liberty Seguros and Fassa Bortolo taking over the pace making in the peloton. Liberty is hoping for some success from Contador, who attacked several times yesterday.

16:39 CET    157km/29km to go
Less than 30 km to go now, as the race approaches Les Marjoris. Dekker, Landaluze and Moncoutie have just given up the fight, as the gap is now under 30 seconds. Unfortunately they didn't make it over the Col du Tanneron in front.

16:41 CET    158km/28km to go
It's all over for the breakaways just before the final climb. CSC is back at the front, and Alessio's Franco Pellizotti moves up too. He crashed yesterday and lost four minutes, but was able to start today.

16:43 CET  
The CSC train leads at the foot of the Col du Tanneron, as US Postal moves up to the front to help Hincapie. Michael Rogers, Davide Rebellin, Frank Vandenbroucke are all close to Jaksche. The peloton is quite big, and we could even see a bunch sprint today(?).

Erik Dekker is dropped immediately.

16:46 CET    158km/28km to go
Julich is riding in front of the peloton, before Schleck and Voigt take over. Jaksche in fourth wheel, looking comfortable. This climb is certainly not as tough as the Cat. 1 mountains today, but at the end of the race it's still a test for tired legs.

An RAGT rider attacks and gets a gap. It's Yoann Le Boulanger.

16:47 CET    km/186km to go
Aitor Osa is dropped, but he will still keep the mountains jersey. Le Boulanger is caught.

16:51 CET    km/186km to go
Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) takes over the pace making from CSC as Dave Bruylandts (Jacques) attacks on the Tanneron. Interesting move - he said he was going to take it easy today!

16:53 CET    161km/25km to go
Bruylandts is caught by a man from CSC on a slight downhill. The rest of the peloton follows. No luck for Dave today. Just 25 km to go now and the rest of the Col du Tanneron to do.

16:55 CET   
Bruylandts looks around and he has company. About 20 riders have made the bridge, including all the GC riders.

Alexandre Vinokourov attacks! It's on for young and old now - you can't let him go. Bruylandts bridges up!

16:56 CET    km/186km to go
Vinokourov and Bruylandts are being pursued by Leipheimer, Fofonov and Sanchez. They are caught, and Sanchez counters straight away. He is flying.

Alex Zulle and Denis Menchov (?) are in pursuit of the break too.

16:59 CET    165km/21km to go
In front we have Zulle, Leipheimer, Menchov, Vinokouorov, Bruylandts, Fofonov and Sanchez. They have about 10 seconds lead on the peloton, which numbers 20 riders or so. They're still on the Tanneron, but not for much longer.

Kirchen lifts the pace in the bunch for a VDB attack(?) Jaksche, Rebellin and Julich are all there, as Rogers is tailed off a bit.

17:00 CET    166km/20km to go
Zulle, Leipheimer, Menchov, Vinokouorov, Bruylandts and Sanchez (Fofonov is dropped) are caught by Kirchen, Jaksche, VDB, Julich, Landis, Rogers, Rebellin...

Hincapie and Azevedo are chasing at 10 seconds, leading the rest of the bunch.

Sanchez attacks with 1 km from the top, and Menchov goes with him. The 1-2 from yesterday.

17:01 CET    km/186km to go
Sanchez and Menchov are caught by a VDB attack. Jaksche is right on his wheel, but he can't hold it. VDB is away.

17:03 CET    167km/19km to go
Vandenbroucke is at the top, with a 5 second lead over the yellow jersey group. His attack was perhaps a little too late again. Sanchez goes to the front of the group, which has about 15 riders in it. Hincapie is not there, it doesn't look like.

Sanchez catches VDB on the descent.

17:04 CET    km/186km to go
Sanchez is flying on the descent, with VDB right on his wheel. Sanchez even opens up a gap of 20 metres on the Belgian.

Julich and Jaksche are leading the next group, which contains most of the GC riders and has about 15 men in it.

Sanchez is still in front, but VDB is not far behind.

17:06 CET    169km/17km to go
The gap between Sanchez and VDB grows, and Sanchez now has about 3 seconds on VDB and 9 seconds on the peloton.

17:07 CET    171km/15km to go
Sanchez is (for the time being) the superior descender, and he is bidding for a stage win. VDB is in between while Jaksche leads the 15 man chase group, which has Dave Bruylandts dangling off the back.

17:08 CET    172km/14km to go
Sanchez descends better than all the motorbikes around him - one of them has crashed! VDB is at 7 seconds, while the yellow jersey group is at 15 seconds.

17:10 CET    174km/12km to go
Sanchez isn't really a threat on GC, but VDB certainly is. Jaksche will have to do a fair bit of work to bring him back.

Bruylandts is really having trouble on this extremely technical descent of the Col du Tanneron. He misses a corner, and ends up on the dirt. Ooops!

17:11 CET    176km/10km to go
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) is at the bottom of the descent now and has 10 km to go before the finish in Cannes. VDB is about 5 seconds behind, and is chasing hard.

Jaksche's group is 14" behind Sanchez, who certainly isn't waiting for VDB.

17:14 CET    176km/10km to go
Sanchez is inching away from VDB, as CSC get to the front of the Jaksche group. Voigt, Schleck, Julich and Jaksche all in a row. The gaps are 6" between Sanchez and VDB and 19" between Sanchez and the front group. Sanchez is riding on the hoods - interesting position.

17:15 CET    178km/8km to go
Zulle gets to the front to help the chase, as Voigt buries himself. Kirchen is in there too, but as a teammate of VDB he doesn't have to chase. He could win a sprint if it comes together.

VDB is caught.

Pereiro, Vinokourov, Rogers, Leipheimer, Zulle, Jaksche, Julich, Voigt, Rebellin are some of the riders in the chase group. The gap is 25" to Sanchez

17:17 CET    180km/6km to go
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) is powering along into Cannes with a 25" lead over a group containing race leader Jorg Jaksche and most of the other GC riders.

Hincapie is in another group 15" behind Jaksche's bunch. Zulle is doing a lot of work in front.

17:20 CET    181km/5km to go
Alexandre Vinokourov has attacked again! He immediately gets a gap, and is eating into Samuel Sanchez's 25" lead. Sanchez makes the final turn along the sea front, where he'll have 4km of stiff headwind to go.

Vino is motoring away from Jaksche's group, which is not too concerned about the Kazakh, as he is a long way down on GC. Sanchez is losing time - 20", 15"...

17:18 CET    181km/5km to go
Kirchen accelerates on a slight climb and Zulle is immediately dropped. About 11 riders in this group now, 27" behind Sanchez who is riding a fantastic race. He has five km to go, most of which is into a headwind.

17:20 CET    182km/4km to go
The Jaksche group contains 12 riders (Zulle is back on), while George Hincapie is chasing in his own group 15" behind. Kirchen is doing a lot of work at the front now, with Voigt and Julich behind him.

It's still Sanchez with a 25" lead.

Kirchen pulls off but Voigt doesn't want to do a turn. Vinokourov attacks again!

17:22 CET    182km/4km to go
No-one chases Vino, and he will try and close the gap to Sanchez, but will he run out of distance? A 25" gap is big to close on your own.

Sanchez is now along the sea side with 4 km of headwind to go.

17:23 CET    183km/3km to go
Sanchez is not enjoying this headwind, which is strong. He is behind pursued by Vinokourov, who is 17" behind. Bunch is at 25".

Hincapie's group has closed the gap to Jaksche's group. It's now 20 riders.

17:24 CET    183km/3km to go
Jaksche is bery attentive in the chase group, following attacks.

Vinokourov is only 12" from Sanchez, and he is bearing down on him! The bunch is at 30".

17:25 CET    184km/2km to go
Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile) is riding like a train, and has closed the gap to Sanchez with about 2 km to go. He immediately attacks, and has a gap to Sanchez. A Euskaltel rider accelerates in the bunch, realising that Sanchez is gone. To no avail. It's all together.

Vino has 20" lead over the bunch with 2km.

17:26 CET    185km/1km to go
1 km to go for Alexandre Vinokourov, who incidentally has an SRM atop his bars. He'll be putting out well over 500 watts now.

Sanchez is still alone, 15" behind Vino, and the yellow jersey group is at 40".

17:30 CET    186km/0km to go
The punch has grown a bit more, but it won't catch Vino. Sanchez has 12" with 1km, so he could stay clear too. But he's dying now and is caught with 500m to go. It will be another victory for Alexandre Vinokourov though. Great ride by the Kazakh, who just motored away from the bunch with 5km to go.

Kim Kirchen gets second at 17 seconds. Voigt takes third, and the final bonus seconds. Jaksche will keep the jersey with 15" lead over Rebellin. Tomorrow, he should be able to defend it on the Col d'Eze.


1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                                 
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo                                  0.17
3 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                                                

General classification after stage 7

1 Jorg Jaksche (Ger) Team CSC                                            
2 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                               0.15
3 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                                      0.43
4 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                                       
5 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 0.48
6 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Fassa Bortolo                          0.56
7 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                   1.00
8 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick.Step-Davitamon                        1.08
9 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                     1.35 

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