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62nd Paris-Nice - 2.HC

France, March 7-14, 2004

Main Page    Stage details    Start list   Results

Stage 8 - March 14: Nice - Nice, 144 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones

Complete live report

Start time: 13:00
Estimated finish time: 16:47

15:08 CET   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the final stage of the 62nd Paris-Nice, which will see the 121 remaining riders tackle two and a half circuits of a very tough course around Nice, for a total of 144 km. There are two key climbs per lap: the Cat. 1 Col d'Eze (497m) and the Cat. 2 Col de Chateauneuf (616m). The stage starts straight up the Col d'Eze, and there is barely any flat at all today. The finish is along Nice's famous Promenade des Anglais.

Today will decide whether Jorg Jaksche (CSC) will be crowned the winner of Paris-Nice, and from everything we've seen so far it looks as though no-one can challenge him. But with his team reduced to only five riders, some smart attacking from the other teams could still cause an upset.

15:27 CET   
We have five leaders at the moment: Mario Aerts (T-Mobile), Aitor Osa (Illes Balears), Marcos Serrano (Liberty Seguros), Inigo Cuesta (Cofidis), and Tyler Hamilton (Phonak). The five had a maximum lead of 2'10, but it's now just 20" as Fassa Bortolo and Euskaltel drive the peloton, which is about 70 men strong.

Erik Dekker has crashed and is waiting for a spare wheel.

15:28 CET   
Frank Vandenbroucke and Bobby Julich were part of this break, after VDB attacked very early in the stage. But Julich was better placed on GC, so they dropped off at the top of the Col d'Eze.

Aitor Osa has effectively won the mountains jersey, as he has taken the points on both climbs so far.

15:32 CET    92km/52km to go
The break is caught as Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) counter attacks from the peloton as they start the Chateauneuf for the second time. Lots of riders are dropping off the back of the bunch now, including David Millar (Cofidis), who is looking comfortable.

Kessler is now at the head of affairs, with Benoit Poilvet (Credit Agricole) on his wheel as well as Albert Contador (Liberty Seguros) and Gorka Gonzalez (Euskaltel). CSC is controlling the tempo a little behind them.

15:34 CET    94km/50km to go
Sandy Casar(?) (FDJeux.com) counter attacks the peloton, and gets Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) for company. The should be able to make contact with the leaders. Tyler Hamilton and Aitor Osa are still hanging onto the break too.

Jaksche is in third wheel in the peloton, which is bearing down on the break again. It's only about 5 seconds difference.

15:37 CET    98km/46km to go
The peloton slows a little, as Jens Voigt asks the T-Mobile riders what they're doing. Vinokourov goes, then Thorsten Hiekmann attacks. Lots of magenta up there.

Alexandre Vinokourov(!), Levi Leipheimer, Matthias Kessler, Gorka Gonzalez and Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel), Alberto Contador (Liberty), Tyler Hamilton, Benoit Poilvet, Aitor Osa, David Moncoutie (Cofidis) are in a leading group on the Chateauneuf at the moment, but the situation is changing constantly.

Hiekmann makes contact, while Landaluze is dropped.

15:39 CET    km/144km to go
The gap is growing to 25 seconds, as Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick.Step-Davitamon) is the next rider to attack the peloton in pursuit of the T-Mobile break.

Kessler is driving the break, knowing the Vinokourov and Hiekmann are also there. Osa is sitting in third wheel and Hamilton is looking good too.

Sinkewitz is half a minute behind, with the peloton at 40 seconds.

15:42 CET    100km/44km to go
The lead group: Alexandre Vinokourov, Matthias Kessler, Thorsten Hiekmann (T-Mobile), Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank), Gorka Gonzalez (Euskaltel), Alberto Contador (Liberty), Tyler Hamilton (Phonak), Benoit Poilvet (Credit Agricole), Aitor Osa (Illes Balears) and David Moncoutie (Cofidis).

Kessler drops off, just before the top of the Chateauneuf.

Denis Menchov (Illes Balears) is trying to close the gap to the group, and he succeeds. Impressive.

The peloton is down to about 40 riders now.

15:43 CET    100km/44km to go
Landaluze, Sanchez (Euskaltel), Sinkewitz (QuickStep) and Nozal (Liberty) are also in pursuit of the 11 leaders. Meanwhile, Jens Voigt is driving the CSC train with Jaksche in second wheel. Rebellin, Hincapie, Landis, VDB, Pereiro Sio, Rogers are all there.

15:45 CET    101km/43km to go
The gaps: the leaders are 25 seconds in front of four chasers (Sanchez group) and 45 seconds in front of the peloton, which contains the rest of the GC riders. The chasing group is now being caught.

The leaders have crested the Col de la Chateauneuf now. Just one climb to go - can Vino go for another stage win?

15:47 CET    102km/42km to go
Aitor Osa won the mountain sprint ahead of Moncoutie and Hamilton. They're now on the descent, as Gorka Gonzalez takes a flyer (or is that Sanchez)?

The peloton is 35 seconds behind the leaders.

15:49 CET    104km/40km to go
The peloton snakes down the Col de Chateauneuf in pursuit of the break. Aitor Osa is still feeling good, and leads the attackers down the twisty descent. 40 seconds is the latest gap back to the peloton.

By the way it's beautiful weather today, and most riders are wearing arm warmers and shorts.

15:53 CET    106km/38km to go
The leaders: Alexandre Vinokourov, Thorsten Hiekmann (T-Mobile), Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank), Gorka Gonzalez (Euskaltel), Alberto Contador (Liberty), Tyler Hamilton (Phonak), Benoit Poilvet (Credit Agricole), Aitor Osa and Denis Menchov (Illes Balears) and David Moncoutie (Cofidis).

The peloton is led by two CSC riders, and Jorg Jaksche is talking on the batphone to CSC director Kim Andersen. There's not much point chasing these breakaways, as Hiekmann (16th at 5'51) is the best placed.

15:57 CET    111km/33km to go
Gorka Gonzalez signals for his team car. It doesn't look like he's punctured though. The leaders are approaching the bottom of this descent, which is quite fast compared to the Tanneron yesterday.

The gap is up to 55 seconds. It will be up to the other teams to close this down if they want.

16:03 CET    117km/27km to go
Hamilton is asked by Hiekmann to work, but Hamilton says no, because he's protecting Oscar Pereiro's GC position. So Hamilton assumes his position at the back of the break.

They're now all back at sea level, ready to climb the Col d'Eze one last time. Erik Dekker is sitting on the back of the CSC led peloton.

16:05 CET    120km/24km to go
The peloton is now 1'07 behind the break, which is just about to hit the Col d'Eze for the last time. Vinokourov is in second wheel behind the impressive Aitor Osa.

The peloton is quite strung out now by the CSC men.

16:07 CET    121km/23km to go
The leaders are on the first part of the Col d'Eze, most of them out of the saddle to get their climbing rhythm back. Osa leads in the mountains jersey - perhaps he's working for Denis Menchov, is also a good chance for a stage win.

16:10 CET    122km/22km to go
In the peloton, Kim Kirchen has attacked, while in front, Denis Menchov goes for it. The Russian is powering , but he gets Alberto Contador for company. Here comes Vinokourov, with Leipheimer on his wheel. Also Moncoutie as there.

Hiekmann and Hamilton are chasing as well, but they are off the back a bit.

16:12 CET    123km/21km to go
Meanwhile, Kim Kirchen is trying to close the one minute gap to the leaders. The peloton is still together at 1'15.

Vinokourov lifts the pace in front as Hiekmann and Hamilton make contact. Leipheimer, Menchov, Moncoutie and Contador are the others in front.

16:14 CET    123km/21km to go
Vino asks Hiekmann to ride again, and he does. 5 km from the top of the climb.

Leipheimer grabs a drink bottle and a small tow from the Rabobank car.

Nothing much is happening in the peloton at the moment - still CSC tempoing up the climb with Jaksche sitting pretty. Can Rebellin or VDB attack?

16:17 CET    124km/20km to go
Aitor Osa is caught by the peloton at last, his work done for the day and definitely a worthy winner of the mountain's jersey.

Up in front, Gorka Gonzalez has made contact with the leaders again. It's "fairly flat" on this climb at the moment. Kirchen is at 45" and the peloton is at 1'05.

The leaders: Vinokourov, Hiekmann, Moncoutie, Leipheimer, Menchov, Contador, Gonzalez and Hamilton.

16:20 CET    125km/19km to go
Frank Schleck tows the CSC train with Voigt and Jaksche on his wheel. There's no panic from them, as there are no GC riders in the break. The bunch is only 30 riders strong now.

Kirchen catches Poilvet, who takes his wheel. Hiekmann is driving the lead group at the moment.

Menchov attacks again, but Leipheimer and Vinokourov follow. Menchov can't get a good gap. Contador and Moncoutie are also able to hang in there....just.

16:22 CET    126km/18km to go
Vinokourov catches Menchov and the pair launch a new attack. Contador sprints up to them. Leipheimer and Moncoutie try to chase. Now it's Vino driving the break. Moncoutie and Leipheimer make contact again so it's back to five riders.

Bang! Vinokourov goes hard this time and opens up a big gap with 2 km from the summit of the Col d'Eze. That has destroyed the group.

16:23 CET    127km/17km to go
Vinokourov is taking no prisoners, and is bidding for his third stage victory.

In the peloton there is finally some action as Rebellin attacks. Jaksche is right on him, as is VDB, Landis, Hincapie etc. All together again.

16:25 CET    128km/16km to go
Denis Menchov is in pursuit of Vinokourov, who has 1 km to go to the summit. Menchov is closing the gap, and there are now two riders in front. But Vinokourov isn't let him get on easily. Finally the Russian makes contact shortly before the top of the Col d'Eze.

No sign of the others at the moment.

The peloton is together, and Jaksche just has to negotiate the descent to hold yellow.

16:26 CET    129km/15km to go
At the top of the Col d'Eze, it's Menchov and Vinokourov together. From the peloton, Samuel "demon descender" Sanchez attacks.

16:28 CET    130km/14km to go
Vinokourov took the points on the climb in front of Menchov. Contador was third at 15" with Leipheimer and Moncoutie. Hiekmann, Hamilton and Gonzalez are chasing them.

Oscar Pereiro attacks - they don't want to let him go. They don't as Voigt closes the gap.

16:29 CET    131km/13km to go
Vinokourov and Menchov have 35" lead on a chase group with Moncoutie, Leipheimer and Contador. Hamilton, Hiekmann and Gonzalez are chasing, then Kirchen at 1'40, Sanchez at ? and the peloton at 1'50.

16:30 CET    132km/12km to go
It's a high speed pursuit down the Col d'Eze for the least time, as Leipheimer, Moncoutie and Contador are trying to close a 30 second gap to Vino and Menchov. It's going to be tough as this descent is very fast.

16:33 CET    135km/9km to go
Vino and Menchov have nine kilometres to go now, and they're not getting caught by the peloton. The three chasers: Moncoutie, Leipheimer and Contador are losing ground and are at 45 seconds.

Both Vino and Menchov have won stages in this Paris-Nice.

Jaksche, Voigt, Schleck and Julich are all at the front of the peloton.

16:35 CET    7km/137km to go
Hiekmann, Hamilton and Gonzalez have made contact with Moncoutie, Leipheimer and Contador. The six of them are too far behind (1'00) Vinokourov and Menchov now to make up the difference. The leaders have 7 km and still some descending left.

The peloton, as always, is headed by CSC.

16:37 CET    138km/6km to go
Vinokourov and Menchov are flying, working perfectly together as they ride into Nice. 6 km left.

Hamilton takes over the tempo making behind them. They're really moving.

16:38 CET    140km/4km to go
Large crowds greet the two leaders as they reach 4 kilometres to go. It's all flat now. Both riders can sprint, so this will be an interesting and tactical finish.

16:39 CET    142km/2km to go
The next group is at 1'20, Kirchen and Sanchez are at 2'10 and the peloton is at 2'30. The stage will be fought out between the pair in front. 2km left, and they're still working well together.

16:40 CET    143km/1km to go
Vinokourov and Menchov hit the Promenade des Anglais in front of thousands of people for the final kilometre. Vinokourov leads, then Menchov takes over under the banner.

16:41 CET    144km/0km to go
Menchov takes the final U turn, and Vinokourov is right behind him. The pair are side by side. Vino takes the lead now and Menchov sits behind him. It's a headwind sprint. Vinokourov starts, slowly winding it up from a long way out. Vino leads all the way and wins!!! Menchov couldn't come round.

15:45 GMT   
The six chasers take the last U turn, all together. It's a very tactical sprint. Hiekmann goes form a long way out and easily gets third and a few bonus seconds. He has a big gap over the others! Gonzalez takes fourth in front of Leipheimer, Moncoutie, Contador and Hamilton. Then come Sanchez and Kirchen, followed by the rather modestly sized peloton.

Jorg Jaksche had absolutely no problems in holding his jersey today, and has won the 62nd Paris-Nice. Team CSC was strong until the end, and will take home the team classification too.


1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team         
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Illes Balears-Banesto         
3 Torsten Hiekmann (Ger) T-Mobile Team                              1.37
4 Gorka Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                            1.48
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank                                    
6 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 
7 Alberto Contador (Spa) Liberty Seguros                 
8 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems  
9 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo             
10 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi            

Final general classification
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  0.46
6 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Fassa Bortolo                           0.57
7 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                    1.01
8 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick.Step-Davitamon                         1.09
9 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                      1.36
10 José Azevedo (Por) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor    1.46

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