64th Paris-Nice - ProTour
France, March 5-12, 2006
Results & report
Stage 6 - March 11: Digne-les-Bains - Cannes, 179 km
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Hedwig Kröner
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CET
Estimated finish: 16:30 PT
Welcome to the south of France for
Cyclingnews' live coverage of Paris-Nice, which is entering its final two days
of racing. Today we're headin' for the coast, but it's not an easy route to
get there between Digne-les-Bains and Cannes. There are eight(!) categorised
climbs, starting with the Cat. 2 Col des Leques (km 41.5), then the Col de Luens
(Cat. 2, km 59.5), Col du Mousteiret (Cat. 3, km 64.5), Cote du Clos d’Espargon
(Cat. 3, km 86), Col de St Arnoux (Cat. 3, km 103), Col de Bourigaille (Cat.
1, km 115), Cote de Mons (Cat. 3, km 122), and Col du Tanneron (Cat. 2, km 159).
There are also two intermediate sprints, at La Garde (km 56) and Montauroux
Floyd Landis will face possibly his toughest test today,
as it's a stage where he can be isolated from his Phonak team. If any of the
others want to have a chance at winning Paris-Nice, they'll have to attack and
The story so far...
stage started at 11:47 in Digne under sunny skies and crisp temperatures. 135
riders signed on, with Seb Lang (Gerolsteiner) a non-starter. Almost immediately,
Gert Steegmans (Davitamon-Lotto) attacked, joined by Jens Voigt (Team CSC) and
Michael Albasini (Liquigas). The trio was caught, but Voigt got away again after
13 km, taking Daniel Navarro (Liberty) and Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) with him.
After 23 km, a chase group formed with Tom Boonen (Quick.Step), Aitor Osa (Liberty),
Arkaitz Duran Aroca (Saunier Duval), Nicolas Portal (Caisse d'Epargne), Kjell
Carlström (Liquigas), Samuel Dumoulin and Tomas Vaitkus (AG2R). After 37 km,
the two groups came together to form a lead group of 10 with 1'30 over the peloton.
On the Col des Leques, Tom Steels and Gert Steegmans (Davitamon-Lotto), Christophe
Moreau (AG2R), Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner) and Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole)
Voigt took the points at the top of the Cat. 2 climb
ahead of Carlström, Verbrugghe, Navarro and Vaitkus , with the leaders covering
an amazing 44.4 km in the first hour. The bunch hadn't given up though, and
kept the gap at 25 seconds on the descent. The break disintegrated, leaving
Voigt, Navarro, Osa, Portal and Verbrugghe in front.
Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) abandoned at the sprint in La Garde (km 56).
He was leading the young rider classification, but had been suffering from stomach
problems all through the race. Verbrugghe took the points at the sprint ahead
of Navarro and Voigt. They were then joined by Aitor Perez Arrieta (Caisse d'Epargne),
David Moncoutié, Maxime Monfort (Cofidis), Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick.Step),
Bobby Julich (Team CSC), Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel), Sandy Casar
(best placed on GC at 3'51) and Francis Mourey (Française des Jeux), Evgeni
On the Col de Luens (km 59.6), Moncoutié
took the points ahead of Voigt, Navarro, Arrieta and Monfort, with the peloton
just half a minute behind. Fofonov (Credit Agricole), who like Petrov and Casar
was only about 4'00 down at the start of the day, bridged up with Andrey Kashechkin
(Liberty) and Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues) to form a group of 17.
the Cat. 3 Cote du Mousteiret, it was Moncoutié again ahead of Mourey and Julich.
The break grew to 19 riders as Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) and Jose Vicente Garcia-Acosta
(Caisse d'Epargne) tacked on over the top. At the feed zone (km 75.5), they
had 2'20 lead, but this dropped to 1'40 on the Cat. 3 Col du Clos d’Espargon
(km 86), where Moncoutié again took the points ahead of Mourey and Voigt, obviously
with an eye on the mountains jersey.
The average speed after two
hours was 42.8 km - scary, considering the climbs. And the bunch definitely
wasn't letting the break ride clear, pegging the gap back to 1'20 after 98 km.
Francis Mourey chose this moment to attack...
14:33 CET 112km/67km to go
Some teams are very
well represented in this break: Cofidis, with four riders; Liberty, with three,
and Caisse d'Epargne, with three. Casar is the best placed on GC, at 3'51. But
the peloton hasn't let them get too far ahead.
Mourey is caught but
wins the points on the Cat. 3 Col de St Arnoux ahead of Moncoutié and Casar.
On the descent, Julich crashed but was able to return. The break is now on the
Cat. 1 Col de Bourigaille, and Popovych, Portal and Garcia Acosta are all dropped.
Petrov attacks, putting 30 seconds into the rest of the group, with the bunch
now at 2'40.
We spoke to a couple of CSC riders
this morning, as well as team director Bjarne Riis, who told us (in response
to a question about Jens Voigt): "Oh with Jens, you never know. It's still a
preparation race for Jens, but we might see him in a break." That seems to be
Also Frank Schleck (5th on GC) said, "I feel good and I
have a good team. Today I'll try to get through the day as best I can and then
we'll see. There will be a break today and the field is going to control it
behind. I think that Boonen can win today.
"It's been like this for
years - this particular stage - that a 40 man group gets into Cannes. So today
won't be different, I think."
14:38 CET 115km/64km to go
Petrov reaches the
summit of the Col de Bourigaille with 22 seconds lead over Moncoutié, Kashechkin,
Casar, Chavanel and Van de Walle. Perez Arrieta comes over a few seconds off
14:42 CET 121km/58km to go
Petrov is still alone,
enjoying the sunshine as he tackles the Cote de Mons. He has 30 seconds lead
on the chasing group, which now numbers 18 again. More importantly, he's 3'45
ahead of the peloton, which puts him very close to the lead (he needs 4'00).
Also Casar is close, at 3'51.
Floyd Landis has his Phonak team working
14:46 CET 123km/56km to go
Landis is in third
wheel in the peloton, behind two Phonak teammates. Tom Boonen is also very close
to the front, so he's obviously got some form.
Petrov wins the points
on the Cote de Mons ahead of Moncoutié and Casar.
Third placed Samuel
Sanchez (Euskaltel) said to us today, "I think 1'13 is practically not recoverable.
What I can do is to maintain third place, which would already be a pretty good
thing for the team. Today there are many climbs, but from the last climb to
the finish, there's still quite some kilometres left. There will be a headwind
in Cannes too, so it will be hard."
14:48 CET 125km/54km to go
Petrov is now over
a minute ahead of the first chase group, which has shed a few riders. He still
has 3'50 on the peloton.
14:50 CET 128km/51km to go
Petrov flies on the
descent, powering a big gear to increase his advantage as much as he can. He's
a good time trialist (or he was as an U23). He won both world road and time
trial championships in Plouay in 2000.
14:54 CET 130km/49km to go
Julich doesn't appear
to be in the chase group, while Portal and Garcia Acosta are yoyoing off the
back. So that gives us: David Moncoutié, Sylvain Chavanel, Maxime Monfort and
Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis), Andrey Kashechkin, Daniel Navarro, Aitor Osa (Liberty),
Aitor Perez Arrieta, Nicolas Portal, Jose Vicente Garcia-Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne),
Sandy Casar, Francis Mourey (Française des Jeux), Jens Voigt and Dmitri Fofonov
(Credit Agricole) and Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues), Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery
Channel), and Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick.Step) at 1'20 behind Evgeni Petrov.
Dmitri Fofonov (Credit Agricole) attacks
the chase group on a short climb, getting maybe 10 seconds. He's also got a
chance to improve his GC position today. Navarro and Osa work hard on the front
of the group.
But Petrov looks great today. He's 1'20 ahead and
building. It's perfect conditions too: 18 degrees and sunny.
14:57 CET 133km/46km to go
Moos and Merckx work
in front of the bunch, with one Quick.Step rider there too. There's an outside
chance that Boonen could win today. He's made it over all but one of the climbs.
14:59 CET 135km/44km to go
Petrov makes good
use of this very long descent. It's not overly technical, and he has plenty
of straight roads to push his advantage. The chase bunch behind should have
enough horsepower to get him, but they might all be a bit cooked. Sometimes,
there's just nothing you can do against a strong rider like this.
No change to the situation: Petrov
leads Fofonov by 1'20, the main chase group by 1'30, and the bunch by 3'40.
He needs 4'05 to take the leader's jersey from Landis' shoulders.
15:03 CET 137km/42km to go
Fofonov is joined
by Voigt and another rider - Rik Verbrugghe, one of the four Cofidises. That'll
Chris Horner (Davitamon-Lotto) was chatty as always when we
spoke to him at the start: "Today Floyd could be isolated and have to cover
a lot of different moves from a lot of guys that are still under two minutes
on GC. Those are going to be a real threat if he gets isolated.
is wait and see. Surely there'll be attacks from the start and we'll see how
the Phonak team holds together. Depending on who's in the break and how much
they have to work. Yesterday Floyd was by himself on that last climb. Of course
today is a shorter stage but he's got a good climbing team but they used everyone
they had to keep the gap down on the nine guys yesterday."
15:05 CET 139km/40km to go
The chase group reforms
again. Save for Petrov , who has 1'29 now with 40 km to go. The bunch is at
Hats off to Merckx and Moos on the front of the bunch.
They've done well to limit the damage. But it's not over yet.
15:08 CET 141km/38km to go
Verbrugghe takes a
flyer and opens up five seconds over the chase group. Cofidis needs to keep
the pressure on. Four guys in the break but Petrov still 1'30 up the road. Mourey
does a big turn in the chase group, but Verbrugghe has a good lead. He's really
going for it now. He'll suffer on the Tanneron though.
15:14 CET 146km/33km to go
Petrov takes the three
seconds at the sprint in Montauroux, followed by Verbrugghe at 1'34. The rest
of the group is at 1'50, and the peloton still at 3'42. Verbrugghe is suffering
now, and will be caught.
Gerolsteiner's team manager Hans-Michael
Holczer told us this morning that Stefan Schumacher was in doubt. "It's going
to be hard for him because he has stomach troubles, and he's had them for days.
He really started to complain yesterday. It would be great if he could even
make it to Nice, but I'm not too confident about it. When one of my riders is
ill, I don't put any pressure on him any more." Schumacher did abandon today.
Moncoutié pushes the pace in the chase
group now, hoping to get nearer to Petrov before the Tanneron. They're nearly
at the coast.
Moos and Phonak have some assistance from Rabobank,
who have no-one in the lead break. They were spotted in a cafe this morning,
warming themselves with a few cafes au lait. "There will be a group from the
start today but I can't do anything," said Erik Dekker. "It depends on what
happens in the race if I can do something. But the only think I could do is
win the sprint."
15:18 CET 150km/29km to go
Petrov pedals smoothly
in his 53x13, keeping the speed well over 50 km/h. Moncoutié is really driving
the chase now, for a possible bridging attempt by Chavanel? He looks back for
help, but doesn't get it.
15:21 CET 153km/26km to go
Petrov tackles the
last descent before the Cat. 2 col du Tanneron, 5.8 km at 5.3%. He has 1'33
on the chase group, and 3'32 on the bunch. He's looking good for the stage win,
but the next climb is going to hurt. He's on it now.
15:23 CET 154km/25km to go
Now Monfort takes
over from Moncoutié as they start the Tanneron, crossing the narrow bridge and
going uphill right away. Moncoutié pushes the pace from the start with Casar
Petrov looks unbelievably relaxed
as he rides 1'29 ahead of the Moncoutié group. Chavanel moves up. The bunch
is getting closer though: 3'12.
15:27 CET 156km/23km to go
The chase group thins
down rapidly under the impetus of David Moncoutié, who has Chavanel, Kashechkin,
Van de Walle, Casar, Voeckler, and Arrieta with him. The rest are dropped.
Moncoutié and Arrieta are now dropped.
The Frenchman is the virtual mountains leader now though.
attacks the remainder and gets a small gap.
The peloton, driven by
Rabobank and Phonak, is 2'45 Petrov.
15:31 CET 156km/23km to go
Part of the chasing
group is now being mopped up by the Moerenhout-led peloton. Dekker in second
wheel, ahead of Floyd. Kashechkin is just 14 seconds behind Petrov! Excellent
riding by the Kazakh.
15:33 CET 158km/21km to go
Jeez that was quick.
The lead cars have to get out of the way as Andrei Kashechkin bridges up to
Evgeni Petrov. And drops him. But Petrov hangs there at 20 metres. No - he's
looking back. Not far behind, Casar accelerates, but can't clear Vande Walle,
Chavanel and Voeckler.
15:33 CET 159km/20km to go
Kashechkin is flying
away, 500m from the top of the Tanneron. This could be the winning move. He's
wearing longs, which is a surprise, given that it's fairly warm today. Too late
to take 'em off now though.
15:35 CET 160km/19km to go
the summit ahead of Chavanel's group, where Moncoutié has rejoined and taken
second place! No, third, as Petrov was just in front of them. Six chasers.
The peloton is just behind though,
as Phonak and Rabobank hammer up to the top of the Tanneron. No danger for Floyd
today. They're at the summit 1'51 behind.
15:37 CET 162km/17km to go
Kashechkin has 20
seconds on the six chasers as he weaves his way down the other side of the Col
du Tanneron. It's a tricky descent, for sure.
15:38 CET 163km/16km to go
Chavanel reacts and
pushes it on the descent, putting Petrov in difficulty. The Russian paid for
his earlier effort. Always a problem.
15:40 CET 164km/15km to go
Samuel Sanchez has
attacked the peloton on the descent, but he'll have to descend like a demon
to get away. He's caught by Luis Sanchez, with the peloton just off their wheels.
Kashechkin is still the leader. He'll have a headwind to contend with when he
hits the beach.
15:41 CET 165km/14km to go
The chase group hangs
together, now led by Thomas Voeckler. It's been a while since a French stage
win in Paris-Nice. Several years, in fact.
15:42 CET 166km/13km to go
Petrov is dangling
about 20 metres off the back of the chase group. It's hard descending when you're
tired. You don't concentrate as well.
Chavanel has a bit of a gap
now, maybe five seconds.
15:44 CET 167km/12km to go
the bottom of the descent with 14 seconds on Chavanel, and 30 on the group of
five. He's fighting a crosswind now, that will soon turn against him. Moncoutié
doesn't have to work in the chase group, as Chavanel is ahead.
Moncoutié has been penalised 5 points
for drafting on the last climb. I wondered where he came from, so quickly. That'll
lose him the mountains jersey today, but he may get it back tomorrow.
15:46 CET 170km/9km to go
The four plus one chasers
aren't making much of an impression on Chavanel and Kashechkin. The gaps: 13
seconds between the front two soloists, 33 seconds to the chase group, and 1'38
to the peloton, which has the situation in hand.
15:49 CET 172km/7km to go
A minor, but important
correction: Kashechkin is a Kazakhstani, not a Kazakh. A Kazakh is an Asiatic
member of the turkic-language family (thanks Mr Baldwin).
more important is that he could win this stage. Unless Chavanel gets him.
The peloton passes the roundabout
on the outskirts of Cannes, and Phonak continues to lead.
is fighting the wind and doing all he can to hold off Chavanel, who is not making
Chavanel gets some encouragement from
his team car. 20 seconds to the leader. The Liberty man has a big advantage
15:52 CET 174km/5km to go
Moerenhout is keeping
the peloton moving at a good tempo. Landis is nearly home.
is nearly at the final drag along the beach front, taking advantage of a bit
of a tailwind. He has 25 seconds on Chavanel, and 55 seconds on the chase group,
1'38 on the peloton.
15:54 CET 175km/4km to go
The Liberty man is
on the beachfront now: just five km to go and he'll claim the stage win. Great
ride by Kashechkin. Chavanel is dying a hundred deaths though. Will he get caught
by the chasers? Doesn't look like it.
Vaitkus does a big turn on
the front of the bunch. He is a handy lead out, and I know he is a good wheel
to sit on.
15:55 CET 176km/3km to go
There isn't a hell
of a lot of wind, compared to previous years, so Kashechkin will have a pleasant
run to the finish. Posthuma won this stage last year, and (I think) Vinokourov
in 2004. Another Kazakhstani.
15:56 CET 177km/2km to go
Chavanel is doing his
best to keep second, and he should be able to. But it's all Kashechkin now.
Vaitkus has done a pretty handy turn in the peloton, which is lined out. No
sign of Boonen though - he was dropped on the Tanneron.
15:58 CET 178km/1km to go
Kashechkin rides alongside
the azure-coloured water that isn't unique to Cannes. He'll win this stage by
a good 40 seconds. Less than 1 km to go.
16:01 CET 179km/0km to go
The Liberty Seguros
rider has done it, after bridging up to Evgeni Petrov on the last climb and
holding off everyone to the finish. He wins the sixth stage!!!
does hang on for second, at 1'06. Then Casar, Voeckler, Moncoutié, Van de Walle
and Petrov. The peloton comes in led by Carrara at 1'34. 42.6 km/h average for
the stage. Ow.
Not many changes to the GC, although
seventh placed Zubeldia has dropped out of the top 10, putting Chris Horner
And that's all from the beachside in Cannes, where we
will park the blimp until tomorrow's final stage of Paris-Nice between Nice
and Nice: the decider!
1 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 4.12.08
2 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone 1.06
3 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 1.11
4 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
5 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone
6 Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic
7 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Lampre-Fondital
8 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 1.33
9 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) AG2R Prevoyance
10 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
General classification after stage 6
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 28.24.45
2 Patxi Xabier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre-Fondital 0.09
3 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.13
4 Antonio Colom (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 1.23
5 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
6 José Azevedo (Por) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 1.35
7 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Credit Agricole 1.39
8 José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 1.40
9 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 1.41
10 Christopher Horner (USA) Davitamon-Lotto 1.43
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