65th Paris-Nice - ProTour
France, March 11-18, 2007
Results & report
Stage 7 - March 18: Nice - Nice, 129.5 km
Complete live report
& report   Stage
Live commentary by Hedwig Kröner
Hello and welcome back to another
beautiful spring day in the South of France! The riders of Paris-Nice have been
very lucky this year, enjoying mild temperatures all week instead of snow and
rain like in previous editions.
This last stage of the 'race to the
sun' is laid out on the traditional loop from Nice through the hills and back,
featuring four climbs: the first one is a Cat.2 (Côte de Duranus), and the other
three are all Cat. 1 (Col de la Porte, Turbie, Col d'Eze).
The start went smoothly this morning
at the waterfront "Promenade des Anglais" in Nice, but two riders have given
up the race: Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) and Sebastian Siedler (Milram). The Belgian
super-sprinter probably had enough of all these climbs yesterday - although
today would also have been good practice for Milano-Sanremo...
riders are thus still in the race, and as the flag went down at 13.18pm, a first
breakaway attempt was made by Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Björn Schröder (Milram).
A total of 11 riders got a gap within the first kilometre, but the peloton quickly
calmed their spirits and reeled them in again.
Soon after this, another escape group
formed with Francisco Pérez (Caisse d'Epargne), Andy Schleck (CSC), Sergio Paulinho
(Discovery), Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole), Sandy Casar (FDJ), Sylvain Chavanel
(Cofidis), mountain points leader Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues) and Roman Kreuzinger
(Liquigas). They counted 30 seconds over the bunch at km 8.
another three riders joined the break (Patxi Vila Errandonea - Lampre, Gorka
Verdugo - Euskaltel and Stijn Devolder - Discovery), the group of 11 quickly
distanced itself from the peloton.
And as if he didn't have enough
hard racing yesterday, Chavanel actually attacked the break (!), but he was
caught again after the first intermediate sprint (km 15.5).
After 25 kilometres of racing, on
the first climb, the Côte de Duranus (won by Chavanel in front of Casar and
Paulinho), the break had one minute over the bunch. This could become a very
nervous race, with several contenders still fighting for a good GC placing -
above all, Alberto Contador (Discovery), who will surely again try to go for
the yellow jersey held by Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin. But there are a total
of 15 riders still within a minute of the overall lead, including Kreuzinger
and Chavanel currently in the break, so the race is far from over...
38,7 kilometres were covered in the first hour of racing.
In the descent of the Côte de Duranus,
Voeckler emerged out of the group. The Frenchman, who was in the break already
yesterday, seems very focused on keeping his polkadot jersey... He had 30 seconds
over the chasers and 1.20 minutes over the bunch.
But the chase
group was caught by the peloton at km 46, which left Voeckler out on his own.
The Bouygues Telecom rider is climbing the Col de la Porte now, and has a 38
Actually, after some calculation, Voeckler
is sure to keep the jersey tonight even if somebody else took all the mountain
points on today's stage. So he's out for the stage win... showing, as usual,
not a lot of riding style but great determination.
Behind him, Discovery Channel are controlling the situation, as places 2-5
of the GPM on top of the Col de la Porte are occupied by riders of the American
team (Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Yaroslav Popovych and Alberto Contador
in that order).
Voeckler has good descending abilities.
He extends his lead to 55 seconds speeding down the mountain. Behind him, Discovery
Channel looks ready to launch the final attack in Davide Rebellin's yellow jersey.
But there's still some downhill to do before the next climb starts, the mythical
In the second hour of racing, 36.7
km were covered. The average speed until now is thus 37.007 km/h.
Voeckler is doing a tremendous job,
powering along the flat at 46 km/h. He looks very determined. Behind him, Matt
White (Discovery) has abandoned.
Voeckler has now started the climb.
15:33 CET 89.5km/40km to go
In the bunch, Davide
Rebellin is left without teammates. For now, it's okay, as Discovery Channel
and Caisse d'Epargne are leading the pack, but what will happen once the attacks
Groups are forming now as the climb gets tougher; and the
pace as well.
Only 20 seconds left for Voeckler,
as Popovych heads the Disco single lane up the climb. The Frenchman looks back
Now he's caught. The Disco riders
are flat out; incredible pace. Four Disco riders in front, then Contador, followed
by four Caisse d'Epargnes and Rebellin. The bunch is still about 50 riders strong.
Voeckler can't keep up with the group
and gets dropped.
Still one kilometre to go before the summit is
reached. Contador checks out where Rebellin is, while his teammate Vaitkus falls
back - job done.
A T-Mobile rider tries to get away.
It's Marcus Burghardt. He gets a gap, but is followed by three other riders,
including Maxime Monfort (Cofidis).
15:46 CET 90.5km/39km to go
The four-man break
(Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Francisco Pérez (Caisse d'Epargne), Maxime Monfort
(Cofidis), Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole)) attack on the descent back to
Nice now. They have 20 seconds.
Pieter Weening (Rabobank) is chasing
them now at ten seconds.
It's a fast descent at this point,
not very windy anymore. The riders can go flat out. Weening is still chasing
in between the leaders and the bunch.
15:53 CET 100.5km/29km to go
is still imposing a murderous speed on the small peloton, while Weening gives
up and gets swallowed.
Rebellin will have a hard time defending
his overall lead against such a strong team. Everything will be decided in the
Col d'Eze, where Contador attacked last year to go for the stage win. He knows
this climb well...
They've arrived in the streets of Nice now. One
16:01 CET 105.5km/24km to go
Now it's starting
to go up again. Discovery sprints up the first ramps! This causes some damage
to the rear end of the bunch...
Two teammates yet in front of Contador.
Montfort attacks out of the break,
as the favourites' group gets near.
Now, Contador leaves!
And he creates a huge gap right away!
Passing Burghardt and Fofonov...
Leipheimer falls back in the bunch,
as he must be empty after such efforts.
Contador has passed Montfort,
too, and is now leading in front, followed by Lopez Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne)
at 30 metres.
Rebellin can't follow. He doesn't
panic, but other riders attack him now, such as Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne),
who won yesterday's stage and sits third overall.
23 seconds for
16:10 CET 111.5km/18km to go
Contador gives it
everything, while the group around Rebellin isn't unanimously chasing. Different
interests, and no one want to do the work.
Valjavec and Lopez Garcia
are together now, chasing in between. Rebellin gets a hand from a Lotto and
a CSC rider now.
The young Spaniard has just over 30
seconds on Rebellin. It will be hard keeping those - not so much in the descent,
but in the final flat kilometres through Nice.
The race is ON!!
López García and Valjavec are getting
caught by the Rebellin group. Contador will be on his own later on, too.
Rebellin is having a hard time, but the gap is getting smaller: 24 seconds now,
with a few hundred metres yet to go until the summit.
16:18 CET 116.5km/13km to go
Contador has reached
the GPM. Now, let's hope no one takes too many risks in the descent!
Still 39 seconds advantage for Contador.
If he wins the stage, he'll get 10 bonus seconds, too. This will be tight!
16:24 CET 120.5km/9km to go
The group has split
up. Rebellin is still 25 seconds short of Contador. The Italian himself is leading
16:27 CET 122.5km/7km to go
They're still about
ten riders close to Rebellin. If they reform once the flat is reached, Contador
could be caught - depending on their interests.
16:29 CET 124.5km/5km to go
They've reached the
hilly outskirts of Nice. Contador has his mouth wide open - this hurts. Schleck
is helping Rebellin in the chase, with all the other riders in a single lane
What a finale! The victory over Paris-Nice
has never been so tight! 17 seconds, and ticking...
16:32 CET 127.5km/2km to go
Contador is almost
at the waterfront. He's fighting with all his power, while Rebellin gets no
more help and attacks on his own. It's man against man now!
Contador powers along the Promenade
des Anglais. Not much wind today, for once. He looks back.
And he wins, celebrates!! Rebellin
What a race, what a ride by both Contador
and Rebellin! A spectacular stage comes to its end, and Discovery Channel was
fully rewarded for its efforts. Thanks for reading us and tune in again next
week for the La Classicissima, Milano-Sanremo!
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel
2 David López García (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
3 Joaquím Rodríguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
4 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
5 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Crédit Agricole
6 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
7 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Lampre-Fondital
8 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
9 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
Final general classification
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel
2 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 0.26
3 Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
4 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Lampre-Fondital
5 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
6 David López García (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
8 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
9 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
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