65th Paris-Nice - ProTour
France, March 11-18, 2007
Results & report
Stage 6 - March 17: Brignoles - Cannes, 200 km
Complete live report
Live commentary by Hedwig Kröner
Welcome back to Cyclingnews' Live coverage of Paris-Nice, today coming
from the hinterland mountains of the Côte d'Azur. The penultimate stage of the
65th 'race to the sun' will be quite an agitated one for the whole peloton,
with no less than nine (!!) categorized climbs on the programme until the finish
And these are: the côte de Réal Martin, cat. 3 (km 5), côte de Taradeau, cat.
2 (km 73,5), côte des Tuillières, cat. 2 (km 88), col de Saint-Andrieux, cat.
2 (km 96,5), col du Défens, cat. 2 (km 103, 5), col de Saint-Arnous, cat. 3
(km 117,5), col de Bourigaille, cat. 1 (km 138,5), côte de Mons, cat. 3 (km
143) and the col du Tanneron, cat. 2 (km 180).
To those of you who have been following yesterday's stage to Manosque with us
and who were disappointed by some last-minute technical problems we encountered
as Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) was about to score his stage win: we're
sorry about this and it's being investigated so it won't happen again.
The stage started this morning in Brignoles with three abandons (Francisco Ventoso
(Saunier), Iban Velasco (Euskaltel) and Xavier Florencio (Bouygues)), and as
the flag went down, the attacks took off. Stijn Devolder (Discovery), Joost
Posthuma (Rabobank), Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Patrick Calcagni (Liquigas)
and Jose Antonio Redondo (Astana) were the first on a breakaway, but even before
the first climb, the côte de Réal Martin at km 5, they were caught again.
After the climb a small group including Patrick Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Joaquim
Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) had a bit of an advantage,
but they, too were soon caught after the descent.
Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) and Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) then
tried their luck, but in vain. At km 22, Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) distanced
the bunch, and got a gap. Behind him, a chase group formed, and the Frenchman
waited for them, but at km 30, the peloton caught them again.
But Chavanel didn't give up. Three clicks later, he tried again, accompanied
by Luis Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne), Christina Vandevelde (CSC), Levi Leipheimer
and Tom Danielson (Discovery), and Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues). And this time,
it worked! The gap grew to a respectable 2.05 minutes at the côte de Taradeau
There have been a few abandons until now, too: Thorvald Veneberg (Rabobank),
mountain classification leader Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) - he finished
last and completely knackered yesterday, Markus Zberg (Gerolsteiner), Airvaras
Baranauskas (Agritubel) and Jean-Patrick Nazon (AG2R).
With two Discovery riders in the break, and two Gerolsteiners out of the race,
the German team will have a very hard time keeping the maillot jaune
On all the climbs taken on since then (the côte de Taradeau, the côte des Tuillières,
the col de Saint-Andrieux and the col du Défens), Thomas Voeckler scored the
most mountain points. It's a fast stage in this hilly countryside: an average
of 44,5 km/h was ridden during the first two hours!
The gap, meanwhile, is still at a stable 2 minutes at km 112.
Three riders of Bouygues Télécom have abandoned: Didier Rous, Nicolas Crosbie
and Laurent Lefèvre. Fabio Baldato (Lampre), Reinbert Wielinga (Saunier) and
Sylvain Calzati (AG2R) have also taken off their back numbers - this stage is
doing some damage!
Sylvain Chavanel finished second last year in Cannes (behind Andrej Kashechkin)
- no wonder he's on the attack again today. His fellow countryman Thomas Voeckler
is known to be extremely will-driven even though his climbing abilities may
not be the ones of Danielson or Leipheimer, who may of course be the main actors
of this breakaway. And the Spaniard, Luis Leon Sanchez, is of the same generation
and talent as Alberto Contador... this will be a hard escape group to reel in!
And it's again Voeckler who takes all the points on the col de Saint-Arnoux
(km 117, 5) - he should be wearing the polkadot jersey tonight.
The next climb, the Cat. 1 col de Bourigaille (km 138,5) will be the decisive
point of the stage. If the GC contenders fail to come back on the break on that
climb, then the escapees may succeed until the finish.
Voeckler, Leipheimer, Sanchez and Chavanel are all within one minute of Davide
Rebellin on GC... The breakaway has started the ascent.
But even though Gerolsteiner is doing
its very best to gain time, the gap was only reduced by some 30 seconds on the
col de Bourigaille. Voeckler again proved his ambitions for the polkadot jersey
by taking all the points on the summit.
Next-up is the côte de Mons (km 143).
It's only 1.8 km long at 7 percent gradient. Christian Vandevelde is very often
at the back of the breakaway - he also has his captain Fränk Schleck behind
in the bunch.
12:37 GMT 147km/53km to go
Now, Euskaltel is
driving the peloton in the descent.
Luis Leon Sanchez is leading
the break as they speed downhill.
Ouch! This had to happen... Matt White
(Discovery) crashed out of a left hand curve, taking a Saunier Duval rider down
with him. They look bruised, but are on their feet again.
With 48 kilometres to go, the break
still has 1.30 minutes over the bunch - not much, but it may be enough to take
the stage win, and maybe the yellow jersey. Discovery Channel are also riding
in the first positions of the strung-out peloton - that's quite a strategy.
They are controlling the situation on all fronts.
Leipheimer is talking with his DS
through the earpiece, while Voeckler leads the break. Now, Leipheimer rides
again in front. In any case, they weren't ordered to let the peloton come back
12:55 GMT 162km/38km to go
Now, Leipheimer talked
to Voeckler - the Frenchman is not happy. Apparently, the Disco riders did cut
down on their turns. Only 1.10 left on the bunch, and Euskaltel is in hot pursuit.
Interesting race situation!
The bunch is splitting up slowly,
as the race gets into the final phase. Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) is in
the second group, which needs to work now if it wants to join the peloton again.
Some riders are inside the team car caravan.
14:03 CET 166km/34km to go
Chavanel has decided
to do this on his own now, as the break wasn't unanimous anymore. He's got a
good gap already, and he's France's TT champion...
This could be a good opportunity for
Chavanel, with all the GC poker going on behind him. 30 secs already!
Now, Liquigas and Lotto have taken
over the work in the bunch, while Leipheimer and Danielson are back in the first
postiions in the break. Chavanel has 45 seconds.
14:11 CET 175km/25km to go
Chavanel looks pretty
fresh, still. He's now in the ascent of the col du Tanneron, the last climb
of the day. The bunch has almost caught the remainder of the break.
Now, Luis Leon Sanchez has taken off
in pursuit! Voeckler tires to follow him, but it's hard for him. Danielson has
been caught by the bunch.
The bunch is completely shattered to pieces
as the race is really on here now...
Chavanel still holds firm, even though
the bunch is riding really hard now. Contador tries to drop Rebellin, and succeeds,
but the gap is not big. Valjavec is behind him, as well as a CSC rider - Schleck?
Rebellin gives everything to limit his losses. Now, Contador has reached Sanchez.
Contador drives it full-on. Lopez
Garcia and Sanchez are with him, and Chavanel, who's been caught, tries to hang
on to his murderous pace. Schleck and Valjavec are 10 seconds behind them, and
Rebellin could lose his jersey today...
14:26 CET 182km/18km to go
The descent is tricky.
Good that it's again a beautiful spring day here in the South of France. Contador
has 25 seconds on the Rebellin group.
14:29 CET 1876/136 to go
The stage win could
be very important for the overall classification. But Contador is not a sprinter,
nor a good time triallist on the flat. Could Chavanel still do something in
Cannes after all this time in a break? They have 20 seconds. This is going to
Lopez Garcia has some difficulties
in the descent, not taking a lot of risk, while the others are flat out. Contador
leads them all the way. Leon Sanchez calls for the two to wait for Lopez Garcia.
14:34 CET 1906/106 to go
Behind them, it's Rebellin
himself who drives his group, no other Gerolsteiner there anymore. Leipheimer
was dropped, and is asking for assistance from his team car.
gives Contador a hand now.
In the chase group, there are also
two Saunier Duval riders, including David Millar. They're about 30 riders, now
led by Thomas Lövkvist (Francaise des Jeux).
Contador is grinding his teeth in
front. Chavanel is getting dropped - he's exploding now after all these efforts.
The three Spaniards are in front, as Lopez Garcia made it back on.
14:40 CET 195km/5km to go
The three Spaniards
in front are riding like hell. Contador does a turn and gets a handsling to
do so... They have 35 seconds!
And Sanchez attacks!
14:44 CET 198km/2km to go
They're on the long,
flat and straight waterfront drive in Cannes now. Usually there's a bit of a
wind there... Sanchez has a good gap, while the bunch is 45 seconds behind.
Chavanel was caught long ago...
Now, Lopez Garcia also attacks!!
Now, that's not good for Contador.
Under the red flag, the peloton is coming back up on him.
wins the stage!
Lopez Garcia and Contador were swallowed
by the bunch... and the sprint is taken by a Milram rider, who raises his arms
- he didn't know there was still somebody in front of him!
1 Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
2 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Milram
3 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
4 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
5 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r Prévoyance
General classification after stage 6
1 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
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