63rd Paris-Nice - ProTour
France, March 6-13, 2005
Main Page Results
& report Stage
Stage 2 - Tuesday, March 8: Aigueperse - Thiers, 46.5 km
Complete live report
Welcome back to Cyclingnews' Live coverage of Paris-Nice! As we've mentioned
earlier in our daily News, today's stage two has been shortened from 191 kms
to only 46.5 km due to the bad winter conditions that reign in Northern Europe
these days, and that have been causing a lot of race cancellations in the past
weeks. Originally scheduled to start in Le Châtre at noon CET, the stage start
has been moved Southward to Aigueperse, a town right in the centre of France
through which the riders should originally have passed after 144.5 km. So a
very short stage on flat countryside awaits us, with only one intermediate sprint
in Maringues after 19 km (27,5 km to go) and one Cat. 3 climb 6.5 km before
the finish in Thiers.
The climb just a few kilometres before the finish line is about 2.5 km long,
Cyclingnews' JF Quenet reports, who has just been driving down the route.
It is sectioned in two parts with a 500 m false flat in the middle. No wind
to boost any breakaways, so a sprint finish in Thiers is very likely.
At 15.00 CET, the peloton is finally starting this mini-stage in what are still
very cold temperatures - between 2 and 4° Celsius. The roads of the route have
been cleared, but fresh snow has been falling in Thiers recently so let's hope
the peloton makes it there dry.
There's still plenty of snow along the sides of the road. But what do you expect
- we're in the Massif Central in March!
The stage proper hasn't started yet. The riders are still in the neutral zone
coming out of Aigueperse. Erik Dekker, clad in the yellow and white leader's
jersey, is near the front, alongside Jimmy Casper and the race director's car.
Race director Christian Prudhomme looks like he's trying to take off, as he
flaps his arms up and down while standing up in the lead car. He doesn't get
too much altitude. The race is still neutralised.
And they're racing in stage 2!
15:17 CET 1km/45km to go
Despite the snow, the roads are quite dry as the riders take off for the start.
Straight away, the speed goes up and the tail of the peloton starts to become
quite long. Rabobank is riding a TTT in front, protecting Dekker who dropped
back down the peloton for a short spell.
15:18 CET 2km/44km to go
Rabobank and CSC are riding pretty hard near the front, with Dekker and Voigt
very well placed. Also T-Mobile's Vinokourov is up there, as is Kim Kirchen.
15:20 CET 3km/43km to go
The peloton snakes its way out of the town, and Quick.Step's Kevin De Weert
moves to the front. But it's mainly Rabobank doing the work, and they're riding
Matt Hayman does his turn at the front, followed by Tankink and De Weert (Quick.Step).
Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux) has moved up too. It's a bit of a struggle
for position at the moment. The peloton is really travelling - 50-60 km/h.
15:23 CET 5km/41km to go
The bunch continues to motor along, led by Rabobank and Quick.Step. The dark
blue jerseys of Liberty Seguros are further down the bunch, as are the blue/white
tops of Discovery Channel.
Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues) is making his way to the back of the peloton, after
a visit to the team car. He looks pretty comfy. The pace is high, but it's not
BrutalSpeed (tm) yet.
15:27 CET 7km/39km to go
Voeckler is second last wheel as his teammates drop back to help him. It's a
bizarre scene, racing along dry roads next to fields full of snow.
Armstrong is about halfway down the peloton at the moment. Already there is
a group of 10 off the back. That could be Voeckler and co. Yes it is.
Bouygues Telecom has to do a bit of chasing to get Voeckler back to the peloton,
which is not slowing down at all. Still De Weert and Tankink (Quick.Step), Hayman
(Rabobank) and a few more of his teammates.
The Voeckler group is not having the easiest time in getting back to the bunch,
but it's getting there. Voeckler has to do some work too.
15:30 CET 13km/33km to go
The bunch flies through Pagnant and Voeckler's group is still 30m off the back.
They're really struggling to get their leader back on.
There's an intermediate sprint coming up soon - Dekker and Voigt will be going
15:32 CET 15km/31km to go
The sprint is at Maringues in 3 km. The bunch takes a right hander and will
get a crosswind now. Voeckler's group makes contact just as they reach the corner.
15:33 CET 16km/30km to go
The bunch is now very strung out along the snow covered flats. It's up to 60
km/h again as they race towards the sprint.
15:34 CET 16km/30km to go
A truck parked half on the road causes a few worries, but the peloton is in
the other gutter anyway. Still Rabobank and Quick.Step doing the work, with
CSC putting one man up there for Voigt.
15:36 CET 17km/29km to go
De Weert (Rabobank) goes to the front and drives it for a bit. The sprint approaches.
Dekker is in third wheel, followed by two CSC riders. Voigt is not there. De
Jongh leads out Dekker, who takes the three seconds! Bobby Julich(?) second,
then Valverde third.
Voigt either missed it completely or he was saving himself, trying to get his
teammates to take the seconds. They failed though, and now Dekker has a virtual
3 second lead on GC.
15:38 CET 19km/27km to go
The peloton splits on a big roundabout with Quick.Step and Rabobank continuing
to drive it hard. Not much chance for a breakaway at the moment.
15:39 CET 21km/25km to go
Boven is now on the front for Rabobank. The bunch is getting really lined out
now. The riders probably hate these short stages as there's no time to get into
15:40 CET 22km/24km to go
21 km in the first 23-24 minutes. Yep, they're movin!
A group of 15 or so is dropped. No Voeckler, but several of his teammates.
This group of dropped riders is going backwards fast. There's not the same desperation
as before. Matej Jurco (Domina), Igor Anton (Euskaltel), Luis Perez (Cofidis)
are all in it. And a few Bouygues riders, Moncoutié, Bessy (Cofidis).
15:43 CET 25km/21km to go
The peloton has bunched up a bit now as it finds some shelter. Another roundabout,
but a left hander only. Some riders realise this a bit late, and have to bunny
hop over the top.
The dropped group is about 20 riders now, and losing time.
15:45 CET 26km/20km to go
The concentration on the Rabobank/Quick.Step riders' faces is evident as they
drive the peloton up a short climb. The roads are wetter here, but they're not
Jens Voigt is glued to Dekker's wheel as they pass 20 km to go. Valverde is
up there, on the other side of the peloton, looking nervous.
Mountains leader Jimmy Casper (sic) is well placed too, on Philippe Gilbert's
Ooh look, some horses galloping around a white paddock.
15:48 CET 28km/18km to go
The Rabo/Quick.Step boys continue to work. Mick Rogers has been enlisted to
help for Quick.Step and the Boonen train.
15:49 CET 29km/17km to go
The landscape is frozen but there's a blur of colour moving through it at between
50-60 km/h. One bunch, slightly smaller than it was at the start.
Oooh look, some cows!! Excellent.
15:50 CET 31km/15km to go
Hayman guides the peloton around a tricky, icy corner. The kilometres are ticking
down rapidly now. De Weert and Tankink are still up there for Quick.Step, as
15:51 CET 32km/14km to go
Frank Schleck (CSC) takes a turn now, interrupting the Quick.Step/Rabobank rhythm
for about 3 seconds. The foot of the only climb today is 5 km away.
15:53 CET 33km/13km to go
Some Davitamon-Lotto jerseys have moved into the second rank (for Evans), but
it's still a very aggressive Rabo/Quick.Step locomotive driving. Vinokourov
has moved up too. They're in Dorat now.
Hayman and Rogers swap off at the front. Flecha (Fassa) moves up. He could fancy
his chances on this climb.
15:56 CET 35km/11km to go
It's quite an incredible landscape here. The riders are the only colour in the
There is a bit more anxiety in the peloton as this climb approaches. But Rabo
and Quick.Step will not ease up.
15:56 CET 36km/10km to go
They pass the 10 km to go banner. No-one has attacked today, except out the
back of the bunch.
The climb starts and Niermann (Rabo) really pushes the pace, with three teammates
in tow. Then Quick.Step.
15:58 CET 37km/9km to go
The climb is steepest at the bottom and the peloton is very strung out now.
Rabobank and Quick.Step have control. Tankink does a big turn with Rogers ready
to take over. Vino is well placed.
15:59 CET 38km/8km to go
Mattan's move gets him about 20m. He keeps it going. Now the reactions start.
Most of the Rabos are dropped. It's up to Dekker to hang on now.
Kirchen and Voigt counter attack. Vino is chasing them. Dekker is not there.
Kirchen and Voigt have 50m as they reach the false flat. Dekker is in about
25th wheel in the bunch, where Pellizotti is leading. Fassa and CSC are marking
16:01 CET 39km/7km to go
Voigt now does a turn. The gap is a good 10 seconds.
16:02 CET 40km/6km to go
The bunch has been split to bits on this short climb as Valverde accelerates
at the top. He doesn't get the points on the climb though - probably Voigt got
them. Popovych is in fourth wheel as the peloton clings together over the top.
Kirsipuu has been dropped. No surprises there.
Kirchen, Voigt and Valverde won the points on the climb.
Voeckler has been dropped.
16:03 CET 41km/5km to go
A Saunier Duval rider is driving it - looks a bit like Jeker or Zaballa. They're
not quite on the descent yet.
16:05 CET 42km/4km to go
Now the descent starts with about 5 km to go. The Saunier rider looks back and
he is caught by Arvesen, Rogers and a Cofidis rider.
16:05 CET 42.5km/3.5km to go
The Cofidis rider is Allez Chavanel. The descent is steeper now as they hit
a really sharp hairpin. Rogers in second wheel.
16:06 CET 43km/3km to go
Chavanel leads into the next corner - Jeez it's slippery here. No crashes in
front. Rogers is about 20m back.
Chavanel now has 30m as Rogers lets him go on the descent. Chavanel is flying.
16:07 CET 44km/2km to go
Chavanel takes another tricky corner and gets company from a Lotto rider.
Leon Van Bon is the Lotto man. They only have 20m on the Rogers led peloton.
16:08 CET 44.5km/1.5km to go
Chavanel continues to work, then Van Bon takes over. Quick Step is massing behind
though. Boonen is there.... As is Dekker.
They take another corner with 1 km to go. Van Bon attacks and has a gap but
Chavanel is coming back to him. The peloton is so close - here it comes!!
Chavanel catches Van Bon as Hulsmans brings the peloton up with Boonen in second
wheel, then Dekker.
16:10 CET 46.5km/-0.5km to go
Hulsmans still in front with 300m to go. Boonen looks comfortable as he smashes
home with 200m out to win his second stage!!! Arvesen second, Popovych third.
Dekker was right up there, but Boonen takes the lead. Fantastic ride by the
Belgian, who survived the climb and the descent to beat everyone again.
53'31 to ride 46.5 km. Ouch.
Hopefully we'll get a longer stage tomorrow...Until then!
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step 53.31
2 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) CSC
3 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery
4 Vicente Reynes (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
5 Olaf Pollack (Ger) T-Mobile Team
6 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank
7 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
8 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
9 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team CSC
10 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
General classification after stage 2
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step 5.17.55
2 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 0.03
3 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) CSC 0.05
4 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team CSC 0.09
5 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC
6 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo 0.11
7 Vicente Reynes (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 0.14
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française Des Jeux 0.16
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