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63rd Paris-Nice - ProTour

France, March 6-13, 2005

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Stage 3 - Wednesday, March 9: Thiers - Craponne-sur-Arzon, 118 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Jean-Francois Quenet

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CET
Estimated finish time: 15:00 CET

14:28 CET   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the increasingly truncated "race through the snow", also known as the 63rd Paris-Nice. Today's shortened stage starts in Thiers and finishes in Craponne-sur-Arzon (really), 118 km hence. The original finish in Chambon-sur-Lignon had to be scrapped due to snow on the parcours.

Despite this, it seems that today we will be seeing the first Cat. 1 climb of the race in the form of the Cote de Lavet, the top of which is at the 77 km mark. It's an 8.7 km climb at 4.7%, and will surely test the riders. The only other climb of the day is the Cat. 2 Côte de Courpière (3.1 km at 6.4%), which starts at km 11. The day's only intermediate sprint is at Ambert (km 47).

The riders will reach Craponne after 82 km of racing, and will do a 35 km finishing circuit. It's a lot easier than the original planned stage, thus we may see Tom Boonen still in the leader's jersey at the end of the day, provided he and his Quick.Step team can keep a lid on things on the Cote de Lavet.

14:32 CET   
The peloton is currently racing along through the snow, led by Quick Step. Suddenly, a Liberty trio dashes off the front with Luis Sanchez and Jorg Jaksche there. There is a reaction immediately.

14:34 CET    112km/6km to go
Contador is the third Liberty rider, along with Sanchez and Jaksche. Vinokourov jumps across, as do four others. A Francaise des Jeux rider - possibly Fabien Sanchez - keeps the pressure on.

We're at 6 km to go. This will be the shortest live stage ever! Our apologies...

14:35 CET   
The peloton is in a long line as Luis Sanchez and Cadel Evans are next to attack. Three more riders go with them as it starts to snow a bit. Celestino is there.

14:36 CET    113km/5km to go
A Euskaltel rider - Egoi Martinez - is now off the front on his own, being chased by Sylvain Chavanel. The peloton has regrouped now.

14:36 CET    114km/4km to go
Martinez is still on his own as Chavanel looks back to see the chasers. Three more have left the peloton in pursuit. It's a tough finish. Martinez has about 15 seconds.

14:37 CET   
Chavanel is pedalling a big gear as he tries to close to Martinez. He's having problems. There are more riders in pursuit, while the Quick Step train has started to wind up.

14:38 CET   
Voigt is one of the chasers - he drives a group up to Chavanel and Martinez, who are now together.

14:39 CET    115km/3km to go
Voigt does a big turn but can't get there. Boonen is about 25 riders back in the peloton, which is 5 seconds behind Chavanel, Martinez, Flecha(?) and one other.

14:39 CET    115.5km/2.5km to go
The fourth rider is Arvesen. But the break is now caught as Erik Dekker counters!

14:40 CET   
Dekker is pursued by the peloton in general. Quick.Step jerseys are near the front, trying to control things. Vino attacks on the wheel of a Fassa rider - Cancellara, it seems. A quick.Step rider bridges up to them.

14:41 CET    117km/1km to go
It's Hulsmans who closes the gap at the 1 km mark. Cancellara and Vino have to do all the work. Cancellara is giving Vino the elbow flick. They sit up.

14:42 CET    118km/0km to go
A Cofidis mini train forms with 500m to go, and it's a chaotic sprint. Boonen is fifth wheel, on Verbvugghe's wheel. He can't get out and it's Reynes who wins!! Guido Trenti (Quick.Step), then Fred Rodriguez third. That was a dangerous finish.

No changes to GC, and Tom Boonen keeps the yellow and white jersey. Reynes moves up to third behind Dekker, as a result of the 10 second time bonus.

Thanks for following stage 3 with us, and again, our apologies for picking it up so late.


1 Vicente Reynes (Spa) Illes Balears                             2.40.51
2 Guido Trenti (USA) Quick.Step
3 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
4 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Liberty Seguros-Würth                     
5 Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC
6 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone  
7 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Francaise des Jeux
9 Nico Mattan (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                      
10 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo                            
11 Gorka Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                   
12 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team CSC                  
13 Dario Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi           
General classification after stage 3
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                                    7.58.46
2 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                        0.03
3 Vicente Reynes (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne               0.04
4 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC                                  0.05
5 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team CSC                                     0.09
6 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC  
7 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo                             0.11
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française Des Jeux                         0.16
9 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                
10 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                       


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