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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

67th Paris-Nice - HIS

France, March 8-15, 2009

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Stage 6 - March 13: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - La Montagne de Lure, 182.5km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Bjorn Haake

13:53 CET   
Queen stage! The only mountain top finish in this year's Paris-Nice, as the riders go 182.5 kilometres from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to La Montagne de Lure. The duel of the two C's – Contador and Chavanel – will keep us busy today, but there are nine riders within one minute of each other, so this will be an interesting day in the mountains. There are six KOM's, the last one the toughest. It is a category one climb and marks the stage's end after a 13.8-kilometre ascent. Cyclingnews brings you all the live action from today's stage.

14:03 CET    94km/88.5km to go
We currently have nine riders on the front: Romain Feillu (Agritubel), Mickaël Delage (Silence-Lotto), Javier Aramendia (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Niki Terpstra (Team Milram), Cyril Lemoine (Skil-Shimano), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Alan Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sébastien Turgot (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Jérémy Roy (Française des Jeux). They pedal around two minutes ahead of the field, after a good 90 kilometres covered.

14:05 CET   
The peloton just went through the feed zone. They are certainly hungry, after one sprint and two category two climbs already covered. We get you the points given out so far in a minute.

Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) was in the winning break yesterday and finished second. Now he is out of the race.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

14:08 CET   
The break formed early, with five of the nine on the front since kilometre 10. The others joined by km 20. At the sprint in Rasteau (km 24.5)
it was Riblon ahead of Terpstra and Delage.

Yesterday's protagonist Thomas Voeckler is out of the race today. He crashed inside the first 20km and was unable to continue the race, with his shoulder hurting.

14:14 CET   
The first climb of the day was the Côte du Pas du Ventoux at km 51.5 (does this rally translate to "Hill that is not the Ventoux" – we can see that!). Yesterday's winner picked up where he left off and was over the top in first. This gave him seven points for a total of 25. Tony Martin, who is not in the break, leads with 43 points. Delage was second, ahead of Lemoine, Perez and Feillu.

14:16 CET   
The second climb was the côte de Ferrassières at km 78 and it was again Roy, ahead of Perez, Lemoine, Delage and Riblon.

Jose Luis Arrieta (AG2R La Mondiale) has also abandoned the race.

14:19 CET   
Want to win a signed Garmin jersey? We give one out today. Sign up for the Cyclingnews Forum and predict today's top three before the 20km to go sign.

14:21 CET    110km/72.5km to go
The two Euskaltel riders Aramendia and Perez were a bit in difficulty for a second, or it was a team meeting at the very, very back of the front group, but the two oranginas are back with the front. The gap is down to 1:40.

Current situation

  • Romain Feillu (Agritubel), Mickaël Delage (Silence-Lotto), Alan Perez and Javier Aramendia (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Niki Terpstra (Team Milram), Cyril Lemoine (Skil-Shimano), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Sébastien Turgot (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Jérémy Roy (Française des Jeux)
  • Peloton at 1:40.

14:24 CET   
Columbia had picked up the chase, not wanting Roy to get more points. Roy has dropped out of the front group and is back in the safety of the peloton with his 32 mountain points, 11 points behind Martin.

14:25 CET    119km/63.5km to go
Only eight riders in front now and with Columbia having done enough to protect the polka dot from Martin for now the gap goes back up quickly, to two and a half minutes.

14:33 CET   
There are 4, 2 and 1 point for a cat 3 climb; 7, 5, 3, 2, 1 for a cat 2 and 10, 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 for a cat 1. So for the remaining climbs there are 24 more points left to give out.

Coming up next is the Côte de Saint-Martin-les-Eaux, 3.0km climb at 4.9% (km 129). Then the col de la Mort d'Imbert, 4.9km at 3.9% (km 141), the côte des Mourres, 3.0km at 5.1% (km 158.5) and then the final storm up to la Montagne de Lure, 13.8km at 6.6%.

14:34 CET   
The gap is starting to shrink again, dipping below the two-minute mark once more. How long can the eight in front hold out there?

14:38 CET    127.5km/55km to go
Delage is out of the saddle, following the break which is now on the uphill. The gap is again above three minutes.

The riders are happy the sun is out once again. They would probably prefer to start out a few hundred kilometres south of Paris, to avoid the first few days. But then that wouldn't be a true Paris-Nice, would it?

14:41 CET   
Astana is leading the peloton, not Quick Step. Now we know who's boss... The Katusha team is lined up behind the Kazakh team.

Thanks to Chris for pointing out that Pas also means step, translating the first climb of the day to foothills of the Ventoux. Either way, none of the climbs today come anywhere close to the Ventoux. But the final climb is about as long as Alpe d'Huez, just not as steep.

14:42 CET   
The break is less than one km form the summit, but there are no attacks, they just switch through.

14:42 CET   
The Euskaltels are on the front, no wonder. The mountain goats.

14:44 CET    129.5km/53km to go
Before the summit the orange riders fall to the back of the group though and Delage tales over. He tops the climb in first, ahead of Terpstra and Turgot

14:45 CET   
The bunch already passes the 500m to the top sign, still led by Astana. A few Garmin riders and Quick Step folks are near the front, too.

14:51 CET    135.5km/47km to go
The bunch heads down, all in aerodynamic positions. It looks proficient and fast.

Turgot is the best-placed rider in the break, 4:32 behind Chavanel. For a brief moment he had the virtual yellow jersey today, with a maximum gap of five minutes around the time of the first sprint.

14:52 CET   
The peloton pedals through Manosque. That's the town where they will start tomorrow. Wouldn't it be nice to just call it quits now? But still 46 more hilly kilometres to do.

14:53 CET   
Lots of school kids are out here, as the break pedals through. The kids are as excited about the racers as they are excited to be on TV.

14:56 CET    137.5km/45km to go
Aramendia leads the break right now. None of the riders look like they have a whole lot of desire to tackle the final climb of the day. The gap is still two minutes.

The bunch passes the school kids now. Same level of excitement, as Columbia moves up on the right, alongside the Astana train.

The break stretches out a bit, with Terpstra closing the gap to the three riders in front. It is all together again.

Current situation

  • Romain Feillu (Agritubel), Mickaël Delage (Silence-Lotto), Alan Perez and Javier Aramendia (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Niki Terpstra (Team Milram), Cyril Lemoine (Skil-Shimano), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) and Sébastien Turgot (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
  • Peloton at 1:55

14:57 CET   
The gap has come down to 1:30. Manosque is situated in some rolling hills, a very pretty part of the country.

14:58 CET   
Delage is accelerating! He drops the break with some easy pedaling.

14:59 CET   
Tirreno-Adriatico update: Three riders are clear in the 166-kilometres stage from Fucecchio to Santa Croce sull'Arno. William Frischkorn (Garmin-Slipstream), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R La Mondiale) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) gained up to 5:30 on the peloton, but now the gap is down to about half of that.

Today will be the last chance for the sprinters until the last stage, the next three stages are tough: two mountain stages and one time trial.

15:00 CET   
The others catch up and Delage gestures to them that he wants them to work harder. After all the gap has been reduced quite a bit in the last few kilometres.

It is only 1:10 now. We are a couple of km away from the top of the next climb. The road already points upwards.

Astana is still on the front of the bunch.

15:02 CET   
We are asked if it is true that S. Chavanel has abandoned the race. That is indeed true, but no sweat, the yellow jersey is still in the race. It was Sylvain's brother Sébastien (who rides for FdJ) who put the foot down.

15:03 CET   
Delage is leading the break again, which looks a little more determined now. After all the gap has dropped below the one-minute mark

15:03 CET   
Tirreno-Adriatico update: Julien El Farès' Cofidis team leads the chase of the three riders, William Frischkorn (Garmin-Slipstream), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R La Mondiale) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil).

15:04 CET    141.5km/41km to go
Delage also gets over the top first, ahead of Perez and Lemoine

15:04 CET   
The descent looks quite curvy and the road is rather narrow. At least it is dry today and hopefully everybody can get to the bottom without crashing.

15:05 CET   
Remember, 20 more km before the polls close in our signed Garmin jersey giveaway. Sign up for the Cyclingnews Forum and predict today's top three

15:07 CET    144.5km/38km to go
The bunch has hit the descent as well. It looks Xavier Florencio (Cervélo TestTeam) on the back, 47 seconds behind the leaders. Actually, Florencio is technically more than a minute back, as the peloton is in a long line down the narrow road.

15:09 CET   
Tirreno-Adriatico update: William Frischkorn (Garmin-Slipstream), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R La Mondiale) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) have 2:27 over the chase with 42km to race.

"I am not bad, but not good," said Tom Boonen (Quick Step) to Rai about the crash yesterday. "Hincapie crashed in front of me due to some gravel on the curve. It is normal when you try to fit 200 riders in a small road like that."

15:09 CET   
Daniel Fleeman (Cervélo TestTeam) is having trouble together with a Liquigas rider. The two are gapped by the peloton, still led by the entire Astana teammate great speed.

The gap has gone back up to the one-minute mark, after being down to 47 secs already.

15:12 CET   
The break passes through the town of Dauphin, with the road going up into the towns centre. The gap has been reduced once again, to 45 secs. Roy is now in last position of the bunch, trying to hang on.

15:12 CET   
The bunch leaves the town why a pretty stone bridge, making a left after the creek crossing.

15:14 CET    149.5km/33km to go
The break has hit a cross-wind section. The line up left to right and fight against the wind from the left. Astana does the same, 50 secs later.

The road is now straight and flat and the peloton can see the break ahead of them.

15:15 CET   
Feillu pulls off and checks back. It is not nice what he is seeing, with the Astanas behind in the distance. Terpstra takes over for Feillu on the front of the break.

15:17 CET    151.5km/31km to go
David Moncoutié (Cofidis, le crédit en ligne) hangs out near the back. Is that where he belongs in a mountain stage? Maybe he can get back to the front pretty soon.

That's where the cool guys hang out, like Sylvain Chavanel. He would love to keep the yellow jersey, but it will be a tough fight for him. Contador shows he means business, with his team having worked for a long while already.

Current situation

  • Romain Feillu (Agritubel), Mickaël Delage (Silence-Lotto), Alan Perez and Javier Aramendia (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Niki Terpstra (Team Milram), Cyril Lemoine (Skil-Shimano), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) and Sébastien Turgot (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
  • Peloton at 0.21

15:19 CET   
Fleeman is back in the bunch, which has, true to its name, bunched up a bit and seems to have taken out a bit of the pace, as they go through Mane.

15:20 CET   
Mickaël Buffaz (Cofidis, le crédit en ligne) is now at the back, six more kilometres from the top of the next climb.

15:20 CET   
The break keeps going, but all riders check back as the peloton is only a few seconds behind now.

Delage doesn't want to give up, but then it is Feillu who puts in a strong attack.

15:21 CET   
Feillu and Lemoine pedal ahead now. Riblon and Aramendia catch up

15:22 CET    154.5km/28km to go
The four riders are still only a few dozen metres ahead. But there comes a roundabout, which they can use to go through in full speed, while the big peloton is a little less agile.

15:24 CET   
The peloton is almost upon the four last men standing. Aramendia gives it a good pull, then Feillu attacks once again!

15:24 CET   
Tirreno-Adriatico update: The three escapees – William Frischkorn (Garmin-Slipstream), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R La Mondiale) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) – have 1:48 on the peloton after 3h15 of racing.

15:24 CET   
He wants to make it to the sprint.

Haussler goes after him!

15:26 CET    156.5km/26km to go
Feillu seems to have taken it, ahead of Haussler.

Attack by Tony Martin in his polka dot jersey!

15:27 CET   
Martin wants to get over the next KOM, which comes in two km, to get more mountain points.

Roy is dropped

15:28 CET   
Lorenzetto was third in the sprint. This keeps him the sprints jersey, but his points gap has been halved - he started the day two points ahead of Haussler and now has only one point

15:29 CET   
Martin is unchallenged, as Astana keeps a steady pace, thinking about the overall and not the KOM. Caisse is also near the front.

Martin has 20 secs.

Current situation

  • Tony Martin (Team Columbia - Highroad)
  • Peloton at 0.20

15:30 CET   
Martin checks back. He has a good view down some cliff to see the peloton a little further below.

A view spectators have made it up to the top also.

15:31 CET    158.5km/24km to go
Martin gets the four points and will now sit up and wait for the peloton. The bunch comes over the top half a minute later.

15:33 CET   
Alexandre Botcharov (Team Katusha) took second spot. He was pedaling 50m ahead of the peloton for the last two km or so.

Oscar Pereiro tops in third. It is good to see him back at the front after his terrible crash in last year's Tour de France.

15:34 CET    160.5km/22km to go
Martin has indeed slowed down and is about to be caught again. He checks back and sees several Caisse riders.

Nuyens is on the other end. Well, somebody has to be last.

15:35 CET   
Hmm, we see the top of today's finish, but it looks awfully white. Will this be the last race of the Ski World Cup today? It is sunny, though and the road should be clear.

15:36 CET   
Rabobank and Caisse have taken over from Astana. Who will Rabobank ride for today?

15:38 CET   
Tirreno-Adriatico update: With one circuit to race, 21.3km, our three men – William Frischkorn (Garmin-Slipstream), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R La Mondiale) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) – have have 1:19 over the chase led by Lampre.

15:39 CET   
Ok, we just passed the 20km to go sign, which closes the polls for the Garmin jersey giveaway. Soon we will know the winner.

15:39 CET    164.5km/18km to go
The bunch is heading down fast now, only four more km to go before the climb!

15:40 CET   
The view from above the blimp is terrific, with the peloton looking like a snake on the switchback road.

15:41 CET   
We hear brakes squeaking. Now that needs to be fixed!

FdJ has taken over on the front. Can they get another stage win in Paris-Nice?

15:41 CET   
The peloton is single-file. If you are out training, this is NOT how you approach a mountain. You take it easy.

15:42 CET   
Martin is not taking it easy, but he lost contact nonetheless. Together with Nuyens

15:43 CET    167.5km/15km to go
Nuyens doesn't care. Martin we don't know. He probably felt he won't make it into the top riders today to get points.

At the finish, only the top seven get points anyway

15:44 CET   
Martin is better advised to save his powers for the weekend.

Sébastien Joly (Française des Jeux) attacks!

15:45 CET    168.5km/14km to go
Trent Lowe (Garmin - Slipstream), Karsten Kroon (Team Saxo Bank), Kevin De Weert (Quick Step) and Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) drop back, just before the climb begins

15:46 CET   
Joly has about 10 secs. He will need more than that as the bunch heads through Saint-Etienne-les-Orgues, with a few little barriers in the middle of the road causing a bit of panic in the field.

15:47 CET   
Tirreno-Adriatico update: Near 10km to race and he the three escapees are facing the end of their day. Team Columbia now leads the race.

15:47 CET   
Astana is back on the front. Former polka dot Stéphane Augé is in trouble

15:47 CET   
Euskaltel attacks! It is the mountains after all.

15:48 CET    169.5km/13km to go
Astana goes after the Euskaltel riders, who will work for Sammy Sanchez. So the reader who was asking about Sanchez, all is well for the Spaniard for now.

15:49 CET   
Pereiro is all smiles. He has done his work on the front and drops back.

The peloton catches Joly again.

15:49 CET   
Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) drops back as well. No arrows to shoot today

15:49 CET   

15:51 CET   
The peloton has broken apart, with the sprinters and helpers dropping back and eventually forming the autobus.

Three Euskaltels on the front. Will Sanchez get a stage win today.

Vande Velde also drops back, but he has his stage win bagged, something that not many can say.

15:52 CET   
French champ Vogondy also gets dropped. He is one of those who don't have a stage win.

Joly is also off the back. At least he had some camera time before the climb started in earnest.

15:52 CET   
Tirreno-Adriatico update: Escape is over for William Frischkorn (Garmin-Slipstream), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R La Mondiale) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil). LPR and Liquigas lead at -9km.

15:53 CET   
All the favourites are still in the front, minus Nocentini.

The 13th overall drops back

15:53 CET    171.5km/11km to go
Attack by .... Jens Voigt!

15:54 CET   
Voigt came from the front third, taking some momentum. He attacked on the left hand side and went by really strongly

15:55 CET    172.5km/10km to go
Pineau is dropped as well, while Astana is back in charge.

Voigt passes the 10km to go sign. He is 10 secs ahead of Popovych, who leads the bunch

15:55 CET   
Garate is gone!!!!

15:56 CET   
The second of the overall, only six seconds behind Chavanel, has dropped back.

Chavanel, Frank Schleck and Contador are still there. The group is still fairly big

15:57 CET   
Tirreno-Adriatico update: Teams position for a sprint. It looks like a good day for Mark Cavendish.

15:58 CET    173.5km/9km to go
Voigt hangs over his bike, the mouth wide open and labouring hard. He has the hands above the brake levers and tries to go as aero as possible, while still trying to be able to breath well as he goes up the mountain.

He has 20 secs now

15:59 CET   
Voigt wipes his nose, the sweat dripping down.

The front group is still about 30 riders, with Chavanel in the centre of the group.

25 secs for Voigt

15:59 CET   
An AG2R attacks, but Van den Broeck follows. Next to go is Contador

16:00 CET   
This splits the group. Sanchez and Chavanel have dropped back a bit

16:00 CET   
Colom, Schleck and Kreuziger are still close by

16:00 CET   
It has come together again, but an immediate attack again by Caisse

16:01 CET    175.5km/7km to go
Contador goes!

16:01 CET   
Lopez Garcia was the Caisse rider and he is in trouble.

Contador goes to the front, with Schleck in tow

16:02 CET   
Monfort in trouble, while Schleck and Contador catch Voigt

16:02 CET   
Tirreno-Adriatico update: Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Slipstream wins over Cavendish.

16:02 CET   
Schleck goes hard. Voigt tries to hang on, but even Contador is gapped a bit.

16:03 CET   
Contador gets back to Schleck, but it is over for Voigt.

Another rider has caught up.

16:03 CET   
A group of nine with Chavanel is about 100m behind

16:04 CET   
Sanchez attacks out of the nine-man group!!!

16:04 CET   
Van Den Broeck is also dropped

16:05 CET    176.5km/6km to go
Kreuziger is and Seeldraeyers are still in the group behind the Chavanel group.

Chavanel now has to do some of the work himself

16:05 CET   
Colom of Katusha is the third rider in the front group. He was a teammate of Contador last year

16:06 CET   
And Contador makes it clear that that was last year. He goes it alone!

16:06 CET   
We see the first patches of snow on the side of the road. Schleck and Colom work together to try to bring Contador back.

Evans and Sanchez are riding together in pursuit of the leaders

16:07 CET   
Chava passes the six km to go sign, but he is dropped now. That will be it for his yellow jersey

16:08 CET   
Moncoutié is now with Evans and Luis Leon Sanchez, as well as Sammy Sanchez.

Chava gets some help from a couple of Saxo Bank riders. But he is 45 secs back

16:10 CET    178.5km/4km to go
The Evans group catches Schleck. More snow on the side of the road, but Contador pays no attention. He grits his teeth and pedals hard, staying in the saddle for now.

16:10 CET   
The Evans group is 33 secs behind, Chavanel is 48 secs behind with four km to go.

16:12 CET    179.5km/3km to go
LL Sanchez is also caught, Schleck sprints up to him.

Contador finally is back to his old self and goes out of the saddle through a switchback looping to the left.

Schleck and LL Sanchez have left the Evans group. Chava is fighting hard!! He is trying to come back to the Evans group.

Contador passes the 3km to go sign

16:12 CET   
The snow is almost blinding in the sun, but all are wearing shades looks like.

16:14 CET   
Contador passes a bit of a wet patch on the road, from the melting snow. Chavanel is more than a minute back. How much more time will he lose? Can he keep it close enough to try to get yellow back over the weekend.

16:17 CET    180.5km/2km to go
We must say, Chavanel's yellow contrasts a bit better with the snow than Contador's jersey. But that's not what counts, Contador's jersey is faster!

Two more to go for the Spaniard.

16:18 CET   
Chavanel is in big trouble now, having lost the contact with the Saxos

16:18 CET    181.5km/1km to go
Contador seems to go faster the higher he gets. He passes the one km to go sign

16:19 CET   
Schleck and LL Sanchez pass the flamme rouge less than one minute behind - 59 secs to be exact

16:19 CET   
Chavanel passes the flamme rouge and is about to catch up with his teammate Seeldraeyers. Chava is 1:45 back

16:20 CET   
Contador has reached the barriers, the road still wet from the melting snow

16:20 CET   
He is out of the saddle and gives it all over the final few hundred metres

16:20 CET   
Contador checks back - nobody there. He can relax, lift his right arm in the air and celebrate the stage win!

16:21 CET   
Schleck and LL Sanchez sprint it out for second, still 59 secs behind.

16:21 CET   
Schleck in second, LL Sanchez in third

16:22 CET   
The Evans group comes in some 90 secs after Evans.

Chavanel is spent, he stops almost immediately after the line. He lost about 1:50

16:24 CET   
This gives Contador the yellow jersey.

Evans was with Moncoutié and Sanchez, as well as Voigt, who surprisingly could hang on

16:24 CET   
LL Sanchez moves to second in GC, 1:13 behind Contador. Chavanel is now in third.

16:30 CET   
Riders are still coming in in small groups.

This was as exciting as we had hoped. Chavanel lost the jersey, but he fought hard on a tough uphill finish. He is still in third overall, so this should be an exciting final weekend, with still a few hills left before the finish at the coast in Nice.

16:33 CET   
A smiling Contador pulls over the yellow jersey and kisses a lion. This happens at the same the six-man group comes in, 13 minutes after the stage winner....

16:53 CET   
Thanks for joining us in today's live coverage and we hope you are all back tomorrow. This has been a really exciting Paris-Nice so far.

Thanks to those who have participated in our Garmin jersey giveaway. Remember that for these prediction games you have to sent in your reply by the time they hit the 20km to go sign....

For the winner, check out the Forum.

Provisional results

1 Alberto  Contador (Spa) Astana                   4.47.46
2 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank                  0.58
3 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne             
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto                     1.27
5 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
6 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank                     1.29
7 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi              1.31
8 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano                  1.34
9 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel                   1.44
10 Chris Anker Soerensen (Den) Saxo Bank              1.46
General classification after stage 5

1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana                   23.21.08
2 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne            1.13
3 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step                   1.24
4 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank                  1.38
5 Kevin Seeldrayers (Bel) Quick Step                  2.01
6 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank                     2.06
7 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi              2.14
8 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano                  2.29
9 Antonio Colom (Spa) Katusha                         2.35
10 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Bbox Bouygues Telecom          3.09

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