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63rd Paris-Nice - ProTour

France, March 6-13, 2005

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Stage 1 - Monday, March 7: Etampes - Chabris, 186.5km

Complete live report

14:31 CET    Welcome to Cyclingnews' Live coverage of stage two of the "Race to the sun", the first-ever race counting for ProTour points. The peloton left Etampes at 12.20 CET for roll down on a flatter-than-flat parcours towards Chabris, covering 186,5 km on its path.

14:38 CET    The stage began slowly, with no real action during the first hour. After nine kms, the Cat 3 climb Côte de Graviers determined the first rider to wear the mountains jersey tomorrow: French Jimmy Casper (Cofidis), who took the top points of the only mountain classification today in front of Francisco Ventoso (Saunier) and Freddy Bichot (Française Des Jeux).

14:44 CET    At the km 42 intermediate sprint in Neuville-au-Bois, the American Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon-Lotto) beat Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Bouygues Telecom rider Jérôme Pineau in that order. Two other sprints will take place during this stage, at km 174,5 with 12 kms to go and of course at the finish line in Chabris.

14:51 CET    Local temperature is around 6 degrees, with mixed clouds and sunlight. There's a very strong 40 km/h NNW wind. For most of the stage this will be a tailwind, but when the peloton gets to Thenioux with 40 kms to go, it will turn west which will mean a very strong crosswind all the way to the finish. We'll see if CSC and/or Liberty will try to split the bunch at that point in order to eliminate some GC rivals.

14:54 CET    53km/133km to go Right after the first intermediate sprint, Freddy Bichot (Française Des Jeux) tried to make the first breakaway of the day, but couldn't get away significantly. His attempt was then countered by Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Liberty) and Fabien Sanchez from Francaise des Jeux, who made it to a 2.30 mins lead at km 53.

14:57 CET    We will see who will get on top of all the excellent sprinters in this field at about 16.40, as a bunch sprint still seems inevitable even if the break has a tailwind in their backs. Tom Boonen from Quick.Step being an absolute favourite, as he has shown a great early-season form already at the Tour of Qatar where he won two stages.

15:04 CET    Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano finished 35th at yesterday's prologue, just 10 seconds off the winner Jens Voigt, who is riding in Yellow today. Galdeano is quite a "rouleur", a good time-triallist and could surprise some with the help of Sanchez.

15:10 CET    78km/108km to go At km 78, there has unfortunately been a crash of several riders, all of which could continue the race except Robert Hunter (Phonak), who has abandoned. What a shame, he had been in good form and one of the favourites for today's probable sprint finish. Let's hope his injuries aren't too severe - we'll keep you posted.

15:14 CET    93km/93km to go The break has now gained a lead of 7.30 minutes.

15:20 CET    122km/64km to go Sanchez is leading Galdeano through a narrow, straight road in a forest. The sky is grey with clouds, but the weather looks stable. Back in the bunch, Quick.Step and CSC are heading the train.

15:24 CET    Thomas Voeckler (Bouyges) is also up front of the bunch, still wearing his French champion's jersey. Francaise des Jeux team car is at the side of the break riders; giving instructions to Sanchez.

15:28 CET    Kevin De Weert from Quick.Step leads the peloton now. There have been three abandons this morning, with Bradley Wiggins (Crédit Agricole), Toni Tauler (Illes Balears) and Marci Zanotti (Liquigas) not showing up at the start line. Wiggins' wife will probably give birth today, which is why the British rider chose to fly home.

15:34 CET    130km/56km to go It's still CSC for its General leader Jens Voigt and Quick.Step for Tom Boonen leading the bunch, while Galdeano and Sanchez bravely take turns at the front of today's race. Their lead has slightly diminished to 5.35.

15:39 CET    A few Rabobank and Gerolsteiner riders also show up at the front of the peloton, and the Yellow jersey of Jens Voigt shines through. CSC is well protecting their leader, who might even be able to keep his jersey until the race finish in Nice, just like his former teammate Jörg Jaksche did last year. The Danish squad is definitely very strong again this early season.

15:46 CET    Galdeano looks very smooth as he gets out of the saddle in a slight uphill bit. But will the lead of the two breakaways last until Chabris? It can be doubted, as the peloton behind is still controlling the situation, keeping their distance to 5 mins. now. Crédit Agricole has also engaged in the chase.

15:52 CET    150km/36km to go Slowly, but steadily, the peloton is moving up on the two escaped riders. Hungarian Laszlo Bodrogi from Crédit Agricole is now at the pole position of the bunch.

15:59 CET    155km/31km to go Liquigas, Quick.Step, Crédit Agricole and CSC are gearing up. The peloton is stretched out, while Liberty Seguros' second DS Zaballa is giving final instructions out of the team car to Galdeano in the break.

16:04 CET    160km/26km to go Long, straight roads through flat French country side, with some vegetable fields... the wind should be coming from the right hand side (West) by now, so the first tailwind on which the escapees could sail doesn't help them anymore. Galdeano doesn't look as easy as before neither, and the two of them have probably accepted that their attempt will not be successful. Peloton at 3.40 now.

16:10 CET    161km/25km to go Quick.Step and T-Mobile are driving the bunch now, and definitely setting a more demanding pace while they ride through a small village. T-Mobile's Olaf Pollack could also place under the top five for this bunch sprint finish. 2.35 off the break now.

16:14 CET    162km/24km to go The finish straight is slightly uphill, which should be fine for Boonen. His teammates De Weert and Tankink are working hard for him now, while some riders at the back are having trouble keeping up. The blue Quick.Step train is impressive.

16:20 CET    164km/22km to go And it's paying off: only 1.30 mins between the leaders and the chasing peloton now. Fortunately, the weather has been dry and looks to stay that way for the finale, as there are a few 90° turns which could have been tricky on wet roads.

16:22 CET    166km/20km to go The whole Quick.Step team is at the front of the bunch now, hammering. Galdeano and Sanchez are sitting up more or less, as wasting their energy now would be pointless.

16:24 CET    Vjatcheslav Ekimov (Discovery) is also among the first riders of the bunch, but we haven't seen much of his team during this stage, even less of Lance Armstrong, who is cruising southwards well-protected inside the peloton.

16:26 CET    171km/15km to go Erik Dekker (Rabobank) is moving up the bunch for the second intermediate sprint today. The peloton is slowing down a bit as it is close enough: 0:40.

16:31 CET    174km/12km to go Sanchez takes the full points in front of Galdeano at the intermediate sprint, and Dekker took the third place - which means that he has gained enough bonus seconds to equal Jens Voigt.

16:33 CET    178km/8km to go Immediately after the sprint, the break is over. Fassa Bortolo is now working for Kim Kirchen and Fabian Cancellara.

16:35 CET    There's been a crash! On narrow road between two ditches, the whole peloton has been torn apart. No one is seriously hurt, though.

16:37 CET    179km/7km to go Jens Voigt is within the first group, as well as Voeckler and about 20 Fassa/Quick.Step riders.

16:40 CET    Voigt is even leading this first group now, with Boonen, Cancellara, Julich, Gilbert... in tow. Dekker is not sure to be there, Vinokourov neither.

16:41 CET    Three big groups have formed with just a few kilometres to go. This will shake up GC, but they are not very far from each other so the damage of this mass crash shouldn't be too great.

16:42 CET    Arvesen, Julich, Gussev, Voigt (CSC), Boonen, Hulsmans, Trenti (Quick.Step), De Jongh (Rabobank), Gilbert (FDJ), Voeckler (Bouygues), Merckx (Lotto), Cancellara, Kirchen (Fassa) are all in the first group, while another crash occurs: a Fassa rider.

16:43 CET    And Tom Boonen wins the first stage of this Paris-Nice!

16:45 CET    Cadel Evans, Lance Armstrong, Davide Rebellin, Floyd Landis all lose about one minute, rolling into the finish now.

Results

Provisional
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step                         4.19.15
2 Luciano Pagliarini (Bra) Liquigas
3 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Credit Agricole
4 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone
5 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
7 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux
8 Guido Trenti (USA) Quickstep
9 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Saunier Duval
10 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank

General classification after stage 1

1 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                         4.24.30
2 Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC
3 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo                 0.02
4 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team CSC                         0.04
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                    
6 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC                      0.07
7 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française Des Jeux                 
8 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                    
9 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 
10 Vicente Reynes (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne  0.09

 

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