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61st Paris-Nice - 2.HC

France, March 9-16, 2003

Main page    Course map     Start list    Results

Stage 6 - March 15: Toulon - Cannes, 194.5 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 10:20 CET
Estimated finish time: 15:45 CET

Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the sixth and penultimate stage of Paris-Nice, a 194.5 kilometre long journey between Toulon and Cannes. Today's stage is a tough one, especially coming after yesterday's assault on Mont Faron. It contains six categorised climbs in all, and two intermediate sprints. The climbs are: Col de Taillude (Cat. 3, km 40), Côte de Taradeau (Cat. 2, km 88), Côte des Tuillières (Cat. 2, km 102), Col de Saint-Arnoux (Cat. 3, km 125), Col de Bourigaille (Cat. 1, km 137), and Col du Tanneron (Cat. 2, km 171). After the descent of the last climb, the riders will do a 12 km finishing lap around Cannes.

The two intermediate sprints are at La Garde-Freinet (km 62) and Montauroux (km 156). The finishing sprint is in Cannes' Place Franklin Roosevelt.

After an impressive and emotional performance in yesterday's fifth stage, the yellow jersey wearer going into today's leg is Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom), who is determined to win Paris-Nice for his departed friend, Andrei Kivilev. By the way he rode yesterday, it looks as though he will do it. In second place on GC is ONCE's Mikel Zarrabeitia at 42 seconds, followed by Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) at 53 seconds.

14:19 CET - 136 km/58 km to go
The situation on the road at the moment is that CSC's Tyler Hamilton is alone in the lead, with a 3 minute gap to Jens Voigt (Credit Agricole) and Sebastian Joly (Jean Delatour), and the peloton at 4'35. Hamilton attacked after 55 km and rode away from a group of six chasers, and is still there. He's on the second last climb of the day, the Col de Bourigaille with 58 km to go.

The peloton still contains some 60 riders, and Fabian Jeker (Milaneza) and Angel Castresana (ONCE) have attacked at the base of the Col de Bourigaille.

14:28 CET - 137 km/57 km to go
Hamilton has reached the top of the Col du Bourigaille, with his 3 minute lead intact. He gets a quick bike change from his team director Bjarne Riis and starts the descent.

Behind him there is a group of four riders, with Marcos Serrano (ONCE) and Fabian Jeker (Milaneza) catching Voigt and Joly. The peloton is some 20 seconds behind them.

A recap of the earlier action: Hamilton attacked at 55 km, and passed the first intermediate sprint at km 62 with a 55 second lead on Richard Virenque (Quick.Step) and Claus Moller (Milaneza). Then a group of six chasers formed, with Sandy Casar (FDJ), Franck Vandenbroucke (Quick.Step), Andy Flickinger (Ag2r), Franck Renier (La Boulangere), Jens Voigt (CA), and Sebastien Joly (Jean Delatour). These six could not make any impression on Hamilton, who continued to increase his lead over the next 60 km. Voigt and Joly rode away from the others, and have now been caught by Jeker and Serrano.

The Cofidis team, which was setting the pace on the climb, today lost David Moncoutie, who crashed and abandoned. Moncoutie was third atop Mont Faron yesterday. Also Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) pulled out due to sickness, and Matthew Wilson (FDJeux.com), Jorg Ludewig and Giosuè Bonomi (Saeco) also abandoned.

14:37 CET - 144 km/50 km to go
Hamilton's lead has shrunk rapidly on this descent, as he struggles against the wind and the numerous corners. It has dropped to 1'20 to Jeker, Serrano, Voigt and Joly, with the peloton another 30 seconds back at 1'50.

Cofidis is still leading the peloton on the descent. Vinokourov is in third position, and is looking good today.

14:43 CET - 148 km/46 km to go
Hamilton is slipping around a bit on this descent, which is quite rough and fairly technical. He has a 1 minute lead on the peloton, and 50 seconds on the Voigt group of four. He should stay away to win the next sprint in Montauroux (km 156).

There are still two Cofidis riders on the front of the peloton, Cedric Vasseur and Nico Mattan. They want to try and get a stage win it seems, although they probably won't mind helping Vinokourov defend his jersey, even though he rides for Telekom.

Interestingly, the majority of the riders (including Vinokourov) have helmets on today. It's a tricky and dangerous stage, and there seems to be a little more caution exhibited by the riders today.

14:49 CET - 153 km/41 km to go
Tyler Hamilton has been away for nearly 100 km now, and is racing along the flat towards Montauroux. The peloton has closed to within 38 seconds, and is still being led by Mattan and Vasseur for Cofidis. Davide Rebellin and Alexandre Vinokourov are very close to the front. It looks as though Serrano, Voigt, Jeker and Joly have been swallowed up.

14:54 CET - 156 km/38 km to go
Tyler Hamilton takes the sprint points in Montauroux and a small time bonus. 30 seconds behind him, it looks like Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) and Kurt Arvesen (fakta) have taken second and third. Hamilton sits up and waits for them, and a Kelme rider - Constantino Zaballa - immediately counter attacks.

It doesn't work, as the peloton continues its relentless charge. A Credit Agricole rider closes the gap a new group forms at the front with Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner), Oscar Camenzind (Phonak), Rui Sousa (Milaneza), Joaquim Rodriguez (ONCE) and Benoit Poilvet (Credit Agricole).

15:00 CET - 160 km/34 km to go
The red jerseys of the Saeco and Boulangere teams are now the front of the peloton, chasing this group of five riders. Just 4 km to go until the foot of the Col du Tanneron, the last climb today.

Nico Mattan is burying himself on the front of the peloton again to try and bring these riders back. Vinokourov needs it, as there are precious few Telekom jerseys lurking near the front.

15:05 CET - 164 km/30 km to go
Richard Virenque does a big turn on the descent to finally pull back Camenzind's group of five. It looks like the 60 strong peloton will hit the Col du Tanneron (Cat. 2) as one.

Marcos Serrano punctures at the bottom of the climb.

15:07 CET
Walter Beneteau (La Boulangere) is prominent at the front, as are Camenzind and Sousa. Vinokourov and Rebellin are stuck to each other like glue. No sign of Zarrabeitia (2nd on GC), but he shouldn't be far behind. There are about 35-40 men left in the front peloton.

15:10 CET - 167 km/27 km to go
A Kelme rider - David Latasa - forces the pace, with Sousa following him closely. The pair get a tiny gap, but it's not big enough to be called a break. Latasa goes again, and this time gets 20 metres. Fabian Jeker (Milaneza) chases, as does an ONCE rider, jacket flapping in the breeze - it's Rodriguez again.

15:12 CET - 168 km/26 km to go
Jeker, Rodriguez and Latasa are joined by Phonak's Santi Perez on the Col du Tanneron. Then there is Kurt van de Wouwer (Quick Step) and Udo Bolts (Gerolsteiner) close behind. Vinokourov is attentive, as always, on the front of the peloton.

15:14 CET - 169 km/25 km to go
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) attacks in pursuit of the leaders, causing a reaction by Vinokourov and co. There are now seven in front: Latasa, Jeker, Rodriguez, Lefevre, Perez, Van de Wouwer and Sousa.

Sanchez catches Bolts, as Brochard goes off the front. Brochard catches Sanchez...

15:18 CET - 171 km/23 km to go
The leading seven hit the top of the Col du Tanneron with about 10 seconds on Brochard and Bolts, and the peloton close behind them. Sousa and Perez go over the top in the first positions, followed by Latasa.

On the descent, Chavanel and Sanchez attack the peloton, in pursuit of the leading nine. Chavanel gets some good support from the motorbike, and closes the gap.

15:21 CET - 174 km/20 km to go
David Latasa is a little way in front of the leading break of 11. Behind them at 7 seconds is Vinokourov's group of 10 or so. Latasa is doing well, and is taking the corners perfectly so far.

The chasing group contains: Jeker, Rodriguez, Lefevre, Perez, Van de Wouwer, Sousa, Bolts, Brochard, Chavanel, and Sanchez. They are split up a little on this descent though.

15:26 CET - 178 km/16 km to go
Latasa is still on his own, flying around the corners on the descent of the Col du Tanneron. He has a handful of seconds lead on a group of four with Samuel Sanchez, Laurent Brochard, Sylvain Chavanel and Joaquim Rodriguez. They get him at the bottom of the descent.

15:30 CET - 180 km/14 km to go
There are about 20 chasers, with more groups trying to chase them. But the leading five may well stay away for the stage win, depending on how organised the mini-peloton gets.

The leaders: David Latasa (Kelme), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), Laurent Brochard (Ag2r), Sylvain Chavanel (La Boulangere) and Joaquim Rodriguez (ONCE). The peloton is at 32 seconds. Kim Kirchen (Fassa), Santi Perez (Phonak) and Rui Sousa (Milaneza) are in between at 15 seconds.

15:32 CET - 181 km/13 km to go
Four Milaneza riders are leading the peloton, which is growing all the time. They pick up their teammate Rui Sousa to form a 5 man chase. The leaders are 35 seconds in front, with the Kirchen/Perez duo at 20 seconds.

15:35 CET - 184 km/10 km to go
The five leaders have 39 seconds on the peloton which is led by five Milaneza riders, with a Fassa Bortolo rider assisting the chase too.

In front Rodriguez isn't doing any work, as he is protecting the GC position of Zarrabeitia. That leaves Chavanel, Brochard, Sanchez and Latasa. The gap is down to 37 seconds now.

15:38 CET - 186 km/8 km to go
The leaders have hit the headwind along the coast as they head through Cannes. Their advantage has shrunk to 30 seconds due to the Milaneza chase. Do they have a sprinter with them though?

15:40 CET - 188 km/6 km to go
David Latasa (Kelme), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), Laurent Brochard (Ag2r), Sylvain Chavanel (La Boulangere) and Joaquim Rodriguez (ONCE) are racing towards the finish in Cannes, with 35 seconds on a 25 man peloton. Joaquim Rodriguez still isn't doing any work.

15:42 CET - 189 km/5 km to go
It's still 32 seconds with 5 km to go, and these front five should stay away, as the Milaneza chase is not having any effect. The rest of the peloton seems content to sit there, and let the front riders fight it out for the win.

15:44 CET - 190 km/4 km to go
This long stretch along the Cannes seafront is coming to an end, which will probably help the breakaways. Their gap is still 35 seconds and surely they will stay clear. Who will win? Chavanel and Brochard will be very motivated, Rodriguez is fresh, and Sanchez and Latasa are also looking very strong.

15:46 CET - 192 km/2 km to go
The peloton with Vinokourov will finish some 30 seconds behind the five leaders, who escaped on the Col du Tanneron. But Vino will certainly keep his jersey. 2km to go now, and all five are together.

Brochard attacks! But Chavanel gets on him and they slow down.

15:49 CET - 193 km/1 km to go
Chavanel goes with 1km to go, but Rodriguez is right on him. It'll be a five man sprint.

15:50 CET - 194 km/0 km to go
Brochard attacks early, Latasa chases him, then Rodriguez goes around him and wins the stage, Latasa second, Brochard third, Chavanel fourth. Sanchez takes fifth, then Kim Kirchen wins the bunch sprint for sixth. There are no big changes to the GC, although Chavanel and Sanchez will move themselves forward a little.

Thanks for following the sixth stage with us. We'll be back at the earlier time of 14:00 CET for the final stage of Paris-Nice tomorrow.

Results (provisional)

1 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                       5.02.00
2 David Latasa (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
3 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance                    
4 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 
5 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
6 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo                              0.22
7 Frank Høj (Den) Team fakta                              
8 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team fakta
9 Richard Virenque (Fra) Quick Step-Davitamon
10 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems

General classification after stage 6

1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom                   18.26.32
2 Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                           0.43
3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                            0.54
4 Jorg Jaksche (Ger) ONCE-Eroski                                0.55
5 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere                 1.23
6 Claus Michael Moller (Den) Milaneza-MSS                       1.30
7 Volodomir Gustov (Ukr) Fassa Bortolo                          1.41
8 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                        1.47
9 David Bernabeu (Spa) Milaneza-MSS                             1.51
10 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems               2.04

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