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65th Paris-Nice - ProTour

France, March 11-18, 2007

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Stage 7 - March 18: Nice - Nice, 129.5 km

Complete live report

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Live commentary by Hedwig Kröner

14:26 CET   
Hello and welcome back to another beautiful spring day in the South of France! The riders of Paris-Nice have been very lucky this year, enjoying mild temperatures all week instead of snow and rain like in previous editions.

This last stage of the 'race to the sun' is laid out on the traditional loop from Nice through the hills and back, featuring four climbs: the first one is a Cat.2 (Côte de Duranus), and the other three are all Cat. 1 (Col de la Porte, Turbie, Col d'Eze).

14:34 CET   
The start went smoothly this morning at the waterfront "Promenade des Anglais" in Nice, but two riders have given up the race: Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) and Sebastian Siedler (Milram). The Belgian super-sprinter probably had enough of all these climbs yesterday - although today would also have been good practice for Milano-Sanremo...

124 riders are thus still in the race, and as the flag went down at 13.18pm, a first breakaway attempt was made by Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Björn Schröder (Milram). A total of 11 riders got a gap within the first kilometre, but the peloton quickly calmed their spirits and reeled them in again.

14:39 CET   
Soon after this, another escape group formed with Francisco Pérez (Caisse d'Epargne), Andy Schleck (CSC), Sergio Paulinho (Discovery), Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole), Sandy Casar (FDJ), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), mountain points leader Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues) and Roman Kreuzinger (Liquigas). They counted 30 seconds over the bunch at km 8.

After another three riders joined the break (Patxi Vila Errandonea - Lampre, Gorka Verdugo - Euskaltel and Stijn Devolder - Discovery), the group of 11 quickly distanced itself from the peloton.

And as if he didn't have enough hard racing yesterday, Chavanel actually attacked the break (!), but he was caught again after the first intermediate sprint (km 15.5).

14:45 CET   
After 25 kilometres of racing, on the first climb, the Côte de Duranus (won by Chavanel in front of Casar and Paulinho), the break had one minute over the bunch. This could become a very nervous race, with several contenders still fighting for a good GC placing - above all, Alberto Contador (Discovery), who will surely again try to go for the yellow jersey held by Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin. But there are a total of 15 riders still within a minute of the overall lead, including Kreuzinger and Chavanel currently in the break, so the race is far from over...

38,7 kilometres were covered in the first hour of racing.

14:51 CET   
In the descent of the Côte de Duranus, Voeckler emerged out of the group. The Frenchman, who was in the break already yesterday, seems very focused on keeping his polkadot jersey... He had 30 seconds over the chasers and 1.20 minutes over the bunch.

But the chase group was caught by the peloton at km 46, which left Voeckler out on his own. The Bouygues Telecom rider is climbing the Col de la Porte now, and has a 38 seconds lead.

15:00 CET   
Actually, after some calculation, Voeckler is sure to keep the jersey tonight even if somebody else took all the mountain points on today's stage. So he's out for the stage win... showing, as usual, not a lot of riding style but great determination.

Behind him, Discovery Channel are controlling the situation, as places 2-5 of the GPM on top of the Col de la Porte are occupied by riders of the American team (Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Yaroslav Popovych and Alberto Contador in that order).

15:06 CET   
Voeckler has good descending abilities. He extends his lead to 55 seconds speeding down the mountain. Behind him, Discovery Channel looks ready to launch the final attack in Davide Rebellin's yellow jersey. But there's still some downhill to do before the next climb starts, the mythical Turbine.

15:25 CET   
In the second hour of racing, 36.7 km were covered. The average speed until now is thus 37.007 km/h.

15:30 CET   
Voeckler is doing a tremendous job, powering along the flat at 46 km/h. He looks very determined. Behind him, Matt White (Discovery) has abandoned.

Voeckler has now started the climb.

15:33 CET    89.5km/40km to go
In the bunch, Davide Rebellin is left without teammates. For now, it's okay, as Discovery Channel and Caisse d'Epargne are leading the pack, but what will happen once the attacks start?

Groups are forming now as the climb gets tougher; and the pace as well.

15:34 CET   
Only 20 seconds left for Voeckler, as Popovych heads the Disco single lane up the climb. The Frenchman looks back already.

15:37 CET   
Now he's caught. The Disco riders are flat out; incredible pace. Four Disco riders in front, then Contador, followed by four Caisse d'Epargnes and Rebellin. The bunch is still about 50 riders strong.

15:40 CET   
Voeckler can't keep up with the group and gets dropped.

Still one kilometre to go before the summit is reached. Contador checks out where Rebellin is, while his teammate Vaitkus falls back - job done.

15:44 CET   
A T-Mobile rider tries to get away. It's Marcus Burghardt. He gets a gap, but is followed by three other riders, including Maxime Monfort (Cofidis).

15:46 CET    90.5km/39km to go
The four-man break (Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Francisco Pérez (Caisse d'Epargne), Maxime Monfort (Cofidis), Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole)) attack on the descent back to Nice now. They have 20 seconds.

15:47 CET   
Pieter Weening (Rabobank) is chasing them now at ten seconds.

15:51 CET   
It's a fast descent at this point, not very windy anymore. The riders can go flat out. Weening is still chasing in between the leaders and the bunch.

15:53 CET    100.5km/29km to go
Discovery Channel is still imposing a murderous speed on the small peloton, while Weening gives up and gets swallowed.

15:58 CET   
Rebellin will have a hard time defending his overall lead against such a strong team. Everything will be decided in the Col d'Eze, where Contador attacked last year to go for the stage win. He knows this climb well...

They've arrived in the streets of Nice now. One more loop!

16:01 CET    105.5km/24km to go
Now it's starting to go up again. Discovery sprints up the first ramps! This causes some damage to the rear end of the bunch...

Two teammates yet in front of Contador.

16:02 CET   
Montfort attacks out of the break, as the favourites' group gets near.

Now, Contador leaves!

16:03 CET   
And he creates a huge gap right away! Passing Burghardt and Fofonov...

16:05 CET   
Leipheimer falls back in the bunch, as he must be empty after such efforts.

Contador has passed Montfort, too, and is now leading in front, followed by Lopez Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne) at 30 metres.

16:07 CET   
Rebellin can't follow. He doesn't panic, but other riders attack him now, such as Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne), who won yesterday's stage and sits third overall.

23 seconds for Contador.

16:10 CET    111.5km/18km to go
Contador gives it everything, while the group around Rebellin isn't unanimously chasing. Different interests, and no one want to do the work.

Valjavec and Lopez Garcia are together now, chasing in between. Rebellin gets a hand from a Lotto and a CSC rider now.

16:13 CET   
The young Spaniard has just over 30 seconds on Rebellin. It will be hard keeping those - not so much in the descent, but in the final flat kilometres through Nice.

The race is ON!!

16:15 CET   
López García and Valjavec are getting caught by the Rebellin group. Contador will be on his own later on, too.

Rebellin is having a hard time, but the gap is getting smaller: 24 seconds now, with a few hundred metres yet to go until the summit.

16:18 CET    116.5km/13km to go
Contador has reached the GPM. Now, let's hope no one takes too many risks in the descent!

16:21 CET   
Still 39 seconds advantage for Contador. If he wins the stage, he'll get 10 bonus seconds, too. This will be tight!

16:24 CET    120.5km/9km to go
The group has split up. Rebellin is still 25 seconds short of Contador. The Italian himself is leading the chase...

16:27 CET    122.5km/7km to go
They're still about ten riders close to Rebellin. If they reform once the flat is reached, Contador could be caught - depending on their interests.

16:29 CET    124.5km/5km to go
They've reached the hilly outskirts of Nice. Contador has his mouth wide open - this hurts. Schleck is helping Rebellin in the chase, with all the other riders in a single lane behind him.

16:30 CET   
What a finale! The victory over Paris-Nice has never been so tight! 17 seconds, and ticking...

16:32 CET    127.5km/2km to go
Contador is almost at the waterfront. He's fighting with all his power, while Rebellin gets no more help and attacks on his own. It's man against man now!

16:32 CET   
Contador powers along the Promenade des Anglais. Not much wind today, for once. He looks back.

16:33 CET   
And he wins, celebrates!! Rebellin is beaten...

16:38 CET   
What a race, what a ride by both Contador and Rebellin! A spectacular stage comes to its end, and Discovery Channel was fully rewarded for its efforts. Thanks for reading us and tune in again next week for the La Classicissima, Milano-Sanremo!


1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel
2 David López García (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
3 Joaquím Rodríguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
4 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
5 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Crédit Agricole
6 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
7 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Lampre-Fondital
8 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
9 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
Final general classification
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel
2 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner            0.26
3 Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
4 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Lampre-Fondital
5 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
6 David López García (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
8 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
9 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi

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