66th Paris-Nice - HC
France, March 9-16, 2008
Results & report
Stage 7 - March 16: Nice - Nice, 119km
Complete live report
Live commentary by Bjorn Haake
Bonjour pour la dernière fois – Cyclingnews
is again live at the action on the final day of Paris-Nice, where the GC got
shuffled yesterday and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) is now in the pole position.
Today, the riders will be going from Nice to Nice, but on a not-so-Nice detour
they will encounter a 119-kilometre stage, littered with three category one
climbs. Of course, a few people are glad the last day is tough and will provide
them with opportunities to attack. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is only
three seconds behind Rebellin. But don't count out Yaroslav Popovych (Silence-Lotto)
(third at 48 seconds) and previous leader Robert Gesink (Rabobank), who lost
the maillot jaune yesterday on the downhill. He lies in fourth, 51 seconds
behind Rebellin and will be eager to show on today's mountains that he is one
of the best climbers in the peloton.
In a repeat from last year, we have
the Italian Rebellin going into the final stage with the lead. In 2007 his lead
was twice as much over Spaniard Alberto Contador – a staggering six seconds.
The category two côte de Duranus will be missing this year, but Rebellin will
encounter all the other climbs that were his demise last year. The riders will
go up part of the Eze climb first, but there is no KOM the first time around.
All of them are category one climbs:
km 51 – col de la Porte (7.2km at 7.2%)
km 88.5 – La Turbie (7.0km at 5.2%)
km 103 – col d'Eze (4.2km at 6.8%)
Today's start was a bit delayed for
two reasons. The organisers delayed the start by ten minutes, so that the finishing
time would approximately match up as it was advertised. The reason was a rock
slide at La Turbie, which required a slight change of the route. The race will
be a bit shorter, 115km instead of 119km. Rebellin will like this – a slight
reduction of one difficulty of the day. But there is plenty of uphill left for
some epic battles.
Kevin Van Impe experienced tragedy and
still was subjected to a doping control, while making arrangements f the funeral
of his infant son.
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
The second delay was initiated by
the riders. The peloton added another two-minute wait before the roll-out. When
Philippe Gilbert was signing in, he announced the reason. All the riders declared
themselves sympathetic with Kevin Van Impe, who had just experienced a great
tragedy with the the death of his infant son. Despite that, he was controlled
making arrangements for the funeral and the doping testers refused to leave
without a sample. Gilbert said on the podium that "sometimes the doping testers
are going to too far and there should be some humanity."
The race is underway and the first
attack didn't wait long to occur. Five riders took off after only three kilometres
of racing. Enrico Franzoi (Liquigas), Karsten Kroon (Team CSC), Geoffroy Lequatre
(Agritubel), Lucas Euser (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) and Yann Huguet (Cofidis).
But they were caught quickly again. A couple of kilometres later a big group
of 30 riders split off the front.
14:32 CET 30km/89km to go
Just after the big
group attacked, David Moncoutié (Cofidis) got second thoughts of riding too
far away from Nice and abandoned the race. He could now just go to the beach
and await the arrival of the peloton in a few hours. After all, the weather
is very nice again. A slight breeze, but most spectators run around in T-shirts.
The first sprint of the day was won
by Australian Trent Lowe (Slipstream Chipotle - H30), who is part of the big
front-group split. He beat Thierry Huppond (Skil-Shimano) and Chris Anker Sørensen
Clément Lhotellerie (Skil-Shimano),
who confirmed his polka dot jersey with a strong ride yesterday, told Cyclingnews
Hedwig Kröner before the start why he sat up three climbs yesterday. "Tactically,
it was the best thing to do. I wanted to keep my forces for today. I had gotten
the mountain points I wanted, and you can't have it all, can you! The break
had more chances to go through without me. It was in the interest of all to
sit up…" But he made clear he isn't done just yet, stating that "Today, I will
try to attack again – maybe not in the first part of the stage, but later, in
The front group is extending the lead.
It is now over the one-minute mark. There are five CSC riders in the break,
including Bobby Julich, who got third yesterday.
There are five CSC riders, three Slipstreamers
and also three riders from Saunier Duval. Two Rabobankers have made it into
the front as well. Here is a complete list of the front group:
Charteau and Alberto Losada (Caisse d'Epargne), Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre), Michael
Albasini, Claudio Corioni and Ivan Santaromita (Liquigas), Jurgen Van den Broeck
(Silence-Lotto), Bobby Julich, Alexandr Kolobnev Chris Anker Sørensen, Jens
Voigt and Karsten Kroon (Team CSC), Rémi Pauriol (Crédit Agricole), Philippe
Gilbert and Lilian Jégou (Française des Jeux), José Alberto Benítez, Juan José
Cobo and Aurélien Passeron (Saunier Duval-Scott), Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom),
Morris Possoni (High Road), Yann Huguet (Cofidis), Marc De Maar and Juan Antonio
Flecha (Rabobank), José Luis Arrieta and Hubert Dupont (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Matteo
Tosatto (Quick Step), Geoffroy Lequatre (Agritubel), Björn Schröder (Team Milram),
Trent Lowe, Danny Pate and Thomas Peterson (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) and Thierry
Current race situation
- Anthony Charteau and Alberto Losada (Caisse d'Epargne), Mirco Lorenzetto
(Lampre), Michael Albasini, Claudio Corioni and Ivan Santaromita (Liquigas),
Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto), Bobby Julich, Alexandr Kolobnev Chris
Anker Sørensen, Jens Voigt and Karsten Kroon (Team CSC), Rémi Pauriol (Crédit
Agricole), Philippe Gilbert and Lilian Jégou (Française des Jeux), José Alberto
Benítez, Juan José Cobo and Aurélien Passeron (Saunier Duval-Scott), Jérôme
Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), Morris Possoni (High Road), Yann Huguet (Cofidis),
Marc De Maar and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), José Luis Arrieta and Hubert
Dupont (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step), Geoffroy Lequatre
(Agritubel), Björn Schröder (Team Milram), Trent Lowe, Danny Pate and Thomas
Peterson (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) and Thierry Huppond (Skil-Shimano)
- Peloton at 1.05
There is a string of abandonments.
The High Road trio of Bernhard Eisel, André Greipel and Marcel Sieberg, along
with Gert Steegmans (Quick Step), decided to go to the beach also.
The race to the sun is always happy to
arrive at the beach and trade the rain and snow with some sun
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
Four riders have slipped away from
the bigger group. Anthony Charteau (Caisse d'Epargne), Michael Albasini (Liquigas),
Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto) and Morris Possoni (High Road) pedal a
few seconds ahead of the rest. The main peloton is now one and a half minutes
The riders are on the col de la Porte.
The group of four has extended the lead to about 40 seconds. The pace is high
enough that the peloton is losing some riders, among them Wilfried Cretskens
(Quick Step) and Ralf Grabsch (Team Milram).
As expected, Lhotellerie left
the peloton in pursuit of the front runners, trying to add some points to his
polka dot jersey and living up to his promise to race actively today.
There are now two riders in front,
Morris Possoni (High Road) and Rémi Pauriol (Crédit Agricole). They climb up
the narrow road towards the summit of the first mountain of the day.
Yellow jersey Davide Rebellin before
the start today
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
The main peloton is riding up fast,
with Kohl leading his captain Rebellin. All of Rebellin's main rivals are with
him in this group.
15:19 CET 57km/62km to go
The Rebellin group
is 1'15 behind the two leaders.
The road is twisting around now that
they have passed the top and tackle the downhill. There are concrete walls on
the side - let's hope nobody crashes. The view is spectacular.
15:24 CET 60km/59km to go
The motor bike with
the camera is trying to descend fast enough as not too impede the riders. But
on those narrow roads the cyclists are a match to motorised traffic. They are
descending like crazy.
There is a crash. It is Nocentini
Gesink is shaking his left hand. They
slipped in a switchback. Nocentini went down first, slipping at the exit of
the right hand turn. Gesink was right behind and couldn't avoid going down.
Both were back up quickly again.
Kohl is still making the pace, but
Rebellin is slowing down and checking on his rivals. He doesn't want to take
advantage of the situation. Rebellin is now leading the peloton. Kohl will soon
hear some instructions over the radio.
There it is. Kohl is sitting up and
turns around. Rebellin says something to him. Do they talk in Italian, German,
English or French?
Current race situation
- Morris Possoni (High Road), José Alberto Benítez (Saunier Duval-Scott) and
Rémi Pauriol (Crédit Agricole)
- Remnants of earlier breakaway scattered on the descent
- Yellow jersey group at 1.27
15:31 CET 65km/54km to go
There are now two Gerolsteiner
riders making the pace for their captain. The front group has swelled to three,
with José Alberto Benítez (Saunier Duval-Scott) having joined Possoni and Pauriol.
The little villages nestled in the
steep hills are very pretty. The valley offers nice views, but the riders better
concentrate – a little mistake and they are gone.
They are riding next to the rail road
tracks on their left now, and they are almost as fast as a train. Well, not
the TGV, but the downhill gives them good speed. Oh boy, the front group almost
crashed in a right hand bend. Magically, they managed to get around the turn
without hitting the parked car.
Lhotellerie is in a bigger group
with a few Lampre riders. They are catching the front trio and are ahead 90
seconds of the peloton now.
Possoni and Cunego are driving the
pace right now, with Lhotellerie near the front. Trent Lowe is still there
also, for the Slipstream team. Gerolsteiner has their work cut out for them.
The front group is still on a descent,
1'10 ahead of the peloton. They are flying down those switch backs. Cunego still
on the front. Looks like he wants a stage win today.
The front group consists of about
15 riders. Over the col de la Porte, the points were taken by Rémi Pauriol (Crédit
Agricole), ahead of Morris Possoni (High Road) and Benítez. Chris Anker Sørensen
(Team CSC), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto), Trent Lowe (Slipstream Chipotle
- H30) and Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) were following.
15:45 CET 79km/40km to go
Kohl is making the
pace, but Ag2r has joined the party. They are just under a minute behind the
front now, which is maybe 20 riders strong. There was a bit of discussion in
the front about taking pulls, which has slowed them down a bit, but they are
back up to full speed now.
Clément Lhotellerie (Skil-Shimano) will
try to get more points today.
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
Matthew Lloyd (Silence-Lotto) is pacing
back through the team cars, with Gesink at his wheel. The Rabobank team isn't
visible anymore, and Gesink had to get back to the team car by himself, to get
The Rebellin group passes a scenic
roundabout. It's so small they don't even have to swerve and go straight through.
The gap is still around a minute. They will hit the second climb of the day,
La Turbie, soon.
The front group also approaches a
roundabout, with some riders deciding last minute to use some gaps in the divider
and go around on the right hand side. The peloton also splits up left and right
to get around.
It is still Gerolsteiner and Ag2r
at the front end of the peloton. Lhotellerie takes a good pull and leaves
some riders suffering. The break is splitting up again into two.
Lhotellerie takes a sip out
of his bottle. The group is back together. But Lhotellerie attacks now,
leaving the group in an attempt to get the most points on the top.
15:56 CET 85km/34km to go
He has about a good
100 metres, on a road that tilts upwards.
Cunego counters, with Pauriol on his
wheel. But they don't get a gap and everyone follows. But the lone leader has
opened up a big gap now.
15:58 CET 86km/33km to go
Possoni now tries to
accelerate, switching over to the left hand site of the road. Everybody in the
group is very attentive and attacks are prevented. Good news for Lhotellerie
Kohl is still riding on the front
of the peloton. Both Rebellin and Nocentini have two team-mates. Equal opportunities.
Lhotellerie has 30 seconds on the group and 1'20 on the yellow jersey
Nocentini told Cyclingnews'
Hedwig Kröner before the start that "I slept well, I'm relaxed. Today,
I'll go flat out; no choice! It will be in the interest of Gerolsteiner to let
a break go away, because of the sprint bonus seconds. (3-2-1, in the finish
it will be
10-6-4) I won't make my team ride in the first part of the race,
there's no use. We will try to catch them in the finale. That's where it's all
going to happen!"
16:03 CET 88km/31km to go
The riders are on the
climb. Lhotellerie has 35 seconds on the break and 1'35 on the peloton.
He is close to the summit.
Tosatto attacks out of the front group
and takes Pineau with him. Will they be able to reach the leader before the
16:06 CET 90km/29km to go
out of the saddle and pushes hard, while the break passes under a giant bridge.
The break catches the two others and Cunego is next to try and leave the formation.
Lhotellerie talks into his radio.
Apparently the answer was Yes, as he takes his bottle and drinks something.
The group behind is still together, as the various accelerations have not broken
Lhotellerie is now also sucking
down a PowerGel, as he approaches the summit at fast speed.
16:11 CET 94km/25km to go
The group follows over
the summit a half minute later. Several Cofidis riders are still near the front
end of the peloton, but all the work is shared by Gerolsteiner and Ag2r. They
are a minute and a half behind at the top.
The riders are on the twisty descent
and the riders can see the ocean. Over the top, it was Lhotellerie ahead
of Pauriol and Pineau, then Lowe, Cunego, Benítez and Anton.
Current race situation
- Clément Lhotellerie (Skil-Shimano)
- Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Trent Lowe (Team Slipstream), Bobby Julich (Team
CSC), Igor Anton (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Ivan Santaromita and Michael Albasini
(Liquigas), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto), Hubert Dupont (Ag2r-La
Mondiale), Rémi Pauriol (Crédit Agricole), Morris Possoni (High Road), Alberto
Losada (Caisse d'Epargne), Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), Matteo Tosatto
(Quick Step) and José Alberto Benítez (Saunier Duval-Scott) at 0.34
- Yellow jersey group at 1.51
16:16 CET 98km/21km to go
Finally the group has
split a bit. There are nine riders chasing after Lhotellerie. Julich is
in the group, as well as Cunego. They are 38 seconds behind. The peloton is
16:18 CET 99km/20km to go
takes the right hand switchback at full speed. He makes it around and as a reward
the road goes uphill again. He is on the col d'Eze. This has to be the decision
maker of the overall in the 2008 Paris-Nice!
The peloton has reached the same right
hand turn, 1'40 behind the leader. Hushovd quits the peloton. He will now pedal
to Nice and check out the vistas.
Several riders are getting shelled.
Gilbert, Kroon, Voigt, Kolobnev and others. Not much left now from the powerful
CSC group earlier in the race.
Anton accelerates to try to split
the group. Julich is still there, as is Pineau and Pauriol.
Aussie champ Matthew Lloyd is still
in the peloton. Lhotellerie looks good, as does Anton. It looks as Julich
is dropped, but Trent Lowe is still there.
Sánchez attacks! Rebellin reacts.
But Sánchez goes again.
Rebellin still has a helper. Nocentini
and Popovych are still there as well. But the GC is on the line now, as Lhotellerie
16:24 CET 102km/17km to go
Anton has shaken his
rivals. The others are slowly coming back together behind him. The Euskaltel
rider has about 50m.
Actually, Benítez is ahead of Anton,
it looks like. A bit chaotic, as the groups break up. Monfort attacks the peloton,
but Rebellin doesn't care.
Anton is reached by Cunego and the
others. Benítez is only 15 secs behind the leader, who is 500m from the summit.
Lhotellerie is sweating. The
road turns right and another 300m.
If he'd turn around he could see Benítez,
but he doesn't, opting to push on. And he makes it across the line in first.
16:29 CET 104km/15km to go
Benítez reaches Lhotellerie.
The two will be able to work together now. Popovych attacks!
Kohl is trying to hang onto the backend
of the group, so he can help Rebellin in Nice. They are on the descent now.
Benítez is dropping Lhotellerie,
who doesn't seem to have much left. But the Frenchman fights back.
Sánchez attacks again. The points
for the final climb go to Lhotellerie, Benítez, Cunego, Pineau, Pauriol,
Tosatto and Lowe.
Lhotellerie manages to just
about hang onto the wheel of Benítez. Sánchez descends like a madman. He is
now in the Cunego group!!!
The Cunego group are eight riders.
They pass over a large bridge, then go under a small tunnel.
Sánchez is trying to get Gesink's
young rider jersey, so he does all the work right now. He pedals along the coastal
highway like a man possessed.
Sánchez needs to make up 33 seconds,
but there are also time bonuses on the line for the first three riders. Gesink
is now leading the Rebellin group, desperately trying to keep at lest one of
his two jerseys that he still had yesterday.
The chasing group is as follows: Igor
Anton (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Trent Lowe (Team Slipstream), Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues
Telecom), Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step), Rémi Pauriol (Crédit Agricole), Damiano
Cunego (Lampre) and Alberto Losada and Luis Leon Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne)
The Sánchez group is only seven seconds
behind the leading duo. They can see them already.
Chavanel attacks the out of the peloton,
with Gesink trying to get into his slipstream.
The duo holds up for now, they still
have eight seconds.
The duo is caught by the Sánchez group.
And the peloton is only ten seconds behind now. A wild chase on the French coastal
It looks good for Rebellin, but one
still has to keep in mind the time bonuses. Gerolsteiner should just let the
break go now.
The group is starting to look at each
other. The beginning of the end, usually.
16:41 CET 115km/4km to go
Sánchez attacks again!
He is trying to get a few more seconds
out of this plus the bonus. Three and a half km to go now!
16:42 CET 116km/3km to go
Sánchez has a gap of
almost 100m, with the peloton still 6 secs behind the break.
Sánchez takes a high speed left turn,
then goes out of the saddle to accelerate again.
16:43 CET 117km/2km to go
It's twisty in Nice
now - the finish is different than last year.
There are cones to his right. he's
gritting his teeth, turns around. It will be hard.
16:44 CET 118km/1km to go
He is pushing a monster
gear, riding close to the spectators.
There are barriers now, as he enters
the final km.
His gap is maybe 100m
Tosatto is closing in on Sánchez.
Monfort comes up as well!
The duo gets close to Sánchez, can
he hold on?
It's tight, but he makes it! What
a victory on the Promenade des Anglais!!
Well, it was actually Carlos Barredo
who was chasing. Sánchez held them off with brilliant stamina to take the victory,
but Davide Rebellin will be happiest man tonight, winning Paris-Nice with the
margin of three seconds, after over 1,000km of racing!
With his power ride into Nice, Sánchez
was able to get past Garate in the overall and ends the race in fifth spot.
Thanks for joining us on today's live coverage. You can find the full results
and a detailed report on the race later today on www.cyclingnews.com.
Merci et ciao until Milano-Sanremo next Saturday. Hope you can tune back into
Cyclingnews' live coverage then.
1 Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
2 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis
3 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quick Step
4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel
5 Alexander Efimkin (Rus) Quick Step
6 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step
7 Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre
8 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Crédit Agricole
Final general classification
1 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
2 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale 0.03
3 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Silence-Lotto 0.48
4 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0.51
5 Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 1.09
6 Juan Manuel Gárate (Spa) Quick Step 1.12
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