Paris-Nice 2013 – Race Report

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Despite losing the top dogs to Tirreno-Adriatico, this year’s Paris-Nice was once again full of drama. We saw the maillot jaune crash and quit, SKY’s dominance on the climbs and a classicist in top form early in March.

The race started with a very short prolog, won by Europcar’s Damien Gaudin – a big surprise for everyone, even within the pelaton. Next day, in French road champion colors Nacer Bouhani won the opening sprint stage, but unfortunately later crashed and had to quit the race, this time wearing the yellow jersey. Argos’ German sprinter Marcel Kittel later won sprint frenzy in Stage 2.

As the climbs starting to appear one after the other, the general classification started to shape up. In Stage 3, Garmin’s American rider Andrew Talanksy stepped in to the maillot jaune after winning from a successful breakaway that formed on the ascent of Cote de Mauvagnat. Michael Albasini won Stage 4 while Talansky managed to keep his jersey the day after.

As we approached the queen stage of the race, Talanksy was leading the GC only by 3 seconds, and a record number of 6 riders were following him all under 10 seconds behind. It was Richie Porte attacking to the yellow jersey, thanks to SKY’s climbing lieutenants. Porte kept his lead in the 6th stage, which was won by Sylvain Chavanel in sensational fashion.

As we approach the decisive time trial on the ascent of Col d’Eze, Porte was leading with 32 seconds which proved to be more than enough as he won the stage 17 seconds ahead of runner up Andrew Talansky. Jean-Christophe Peraud moved to the last spot of the podium with his last day performance, moving on top of Chavanel and last year’s runner-up Lieuwe Westra.

Sylvain Chavanel won the points classification, Johann Tschopp of IAM Cycling won the mountains classification whereas runner-up Talanksy finished on top of young riders’ classification and won the white jersey. It was Katusha, leading the teams classification with 4 riders in the top 30.

General Classification

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 29:59:47
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 55″
3. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 1′ 21″
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 1′ 44″
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 1′ 47″
6. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha 1′ 48″
7. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 1′ 54″
8. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 2′ 17″
9. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 2′ 22″
10. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 2′ 28″

Points Classification

1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 88 pts
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 83 pts
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 68 pts

Mountains Classification

1. Johann Tschopp (Swi) IAM Cycling 64 pts
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 27 pts
3. Thierry Hupond (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano 24 pts

Young Rider Classification

1. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 30:00:42
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 49″
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 59″

Teams Classification

1. Katusha 90:06:49
2. Ag2R La Mondiale 1′ 23″
3. RadioShack Leopard 3′ 38″

Milan-San Remo 2013 Preview

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— UPDATE: Due to heavy snow on the Milano-Sanremo route, the riders will be transported by bus from kilometer 117 to kilometer 207 (Finale Ligure). The race will be re-started at 3.00. —

During Tirreno-Adriatico, we’ve seen even Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel are not invincible, Peter Sagan is in top notch form, same also true for Sylvain Chavanel, considering his GC run and stage win in Paris-Nice.

Edvald Boasson Hagen was ok in Tour of Qatar and Tour Down Under but we haven’t seen him race since then. Fabian Cancellara was not impressive at all so far, but still someone you shouldn’t ever ignore for a second. Last year’s winner Simon Gerrans, despite winning a stage in Tour Down Under, failed to finish Paris-Nice, did no start stage 5 due to breathing problems.

Alongside Cavendish and Greipel; Marcel Kittel and Matthew Goss looked strong, each winning a stage past week. If Milan-San Remo ends with a bunch sprint, expect lead out trains checking each other in the front and a frenzy gallop between these riders.

If it comes to a breakaway within the last 30 kilometers, Peter Sagan will definitely follow and can be unstoppable in the final meters. Neither Philippe Gilbert nor Tom Boonen looked strong enough to win with a solo escape. And even if Cancellara or Chavanel tries that, just remember Sagan in this year’s Tour of Oman 2nd stage; closing the 200 meter gap alone before the final kilometers against a 3-rider breakaway and then passing them for his first win of the season.

But the most possible scenario is a select group of maybe 30, 40 riders making it to the final 20 kms. And from that point, we’ll see everyone playing their cards open and a clash of tactics in the field where only both physically and mentally tough riders can react.

Milan-San Remo final 30 kms

Expect to see some attacks on the Cipressa and the front group getting thinner and thinner as early breakaways get swept. But the race is %95 of the time won or lost in Poggio. With his recent form, it is Peter Sagan‘s race to lose but we’ve witnessed SKY cracking him on the drag of Pietragrossa in Tirreno-Adriatico very recently. But  also saw him take his “revenge” by attacking with Nibali on the Muro di Sant’Elpidio just the day after.

It is the longest and one of the fastest single stage races and positioning is key more than ever.

Also check out pre-race interviews and TV Guide / live streaming options.

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Milan-San Remo 2013 – Riders’ List

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6 teams are invited with wildcards besides the 19 pro tour teams: Androni Giocattoli-VenezuelaBardiani Valvole – CSF Inox and Vini Fantini-Selle Italia from Italy, IAM Cycling from Switzerland, French Team Europcar and South Africa’s Mtn-Qhubeka.

Peter SaganMark CavendishAndre GreipelMarcel KittelMatthew Goss and Sylvain Chavanel are this year’s favorites. But Milan-San Remo is an endurance test rather than a regular sprint stage. Check out Race Preview for more detail and predictions.

The startlist of the 104th edition of Milan-San Remo
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Kittel Sprints to Victory in Paris-Nice Stage 2

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No proper sprint train managed to control the pelaton due to strong headwind and it was Alessandro Petacchi of Lampre who started a very long sprint with more than 500 meters to go but it was Argos Shimano’s german sprinter Marcel Kittel‘s last 200 meters late sprint that shaped the podium. Elia Viviani from Cannondale finished second while Leigh Howard of Orica-Greenedge finished third.

Stage 1 winner Nacer Bouhanni, slipped on a turn and crashed out of the stage and is forced to abandon. Kevin Seeldraeyers couldn’t start today’s stage due to the incident he was involved in yesterday. And besides Bouhanni, Jacob Rathe and Alexandre Pichot abandoned the race as well.

Viviani is now leading not only GC but also youg rider and the points classifications. Borut Bozic of Astana will wear the green jersey whereas Wilco Kilderman from Blanco will wear the white jersey.

Results:

1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano 5:42:18
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
3. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
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Paris-Nice 2013 Preview – Stage 2

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Quite similar to the first stage, Stage 2 starting on 5th March, Tuesday is a flat course that favors sprinters for more than anyone else. Nacer Bouhanni, Elia Viviani, Alessandro Petacchi and Jens Debusschere showed that they are in form. Marcel Kittel missed the sprint in Stage 1; pelaton split into two and the group he got stuck with couldn’t catch up. He won the first sprint stage of Tour of Oman in front of pretty much the same sprinters that were in the field today; so this time, I don’t think Argos-Shimano will make the same mistake again and got stuck behind. Orica Greenedge managed to do a very good job with their sprint train, it was a pity Leigh Howard failed to respond in time, this time they’ll be more careful with the positioning and maybe with Michael Matthews instead.

The stage will start in Vimory, a small village near Montargis and after 200.5 kms of pedaling straight to the south, we’ll end up in an another small village Cérilly in Allier. The intermediate sprints are interesting, one very close to the start and the other just before the actual sprint. Sprint teams can show some interest this time both for the green jersey points and time bonuses.

Both the green and yellow jerseys can change hands after the stage. It is a slightly uphill finish but don’t think it’ll be steep enough for anyone other than the pure sprinters to have a chance in here.

Paris-Nice 2013 Preview – Stage 1

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The first “real” stage of Paris Nice starts from Saint-Germain-en-Laye and ends in Nemours on March 4, Monday; traveling along the outskirts of Paris.

It will be a typical sprint day, where a breakaway group kept carefully at distance by sprint teams and got eventually caught within the last 20 kilometers, where a bunch sprint then is unavoidable. Marcel Kittel of Argos-Shimano, Mark Renshaw of Blanco and Nacer Bouhanni of FDJ are the best sprinters in the pelaton and don’t think a last-5 km break from Chavanel or a sprint effort from Boonen could make things different.

There will be time bonuses both in the intermediate sprints and at the stage finish, so expect one of the sprinters to wear the yellow jersey at the end of the stage.

Paris-Nice 2013 Preview – Prologue

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The race starts on March 3, Sunday with a pretty short (2.9 k in total), flat but a winding route. The mid section is especially interesting and will most likely be the decider in this very technical prologue .

Last year, after a 9.4 km time-trial, Gustav Larsson took the first yellow jersey thanks to the heavy rain which hampered the late starters; Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans and Tony Martin to name a few. Larsson, the Swedish national time trial champion now riding for IAM Cycling, looks more of a favorite this time with most of the elite time-trialists picking Tirreno-Adriatico instead.  Still, there are quite some riders that can perform well and with a bit of luck, can clinch a prestigious win in here; Anders Kloden of Radio Shack, Sylvain Chavanel of Omega-Pharma and Brent Bookwalter of BMC, Simon Spilak of Katusha to name a few. Even pure sprinters like Mark Renshaw or Marcel Kittel can score very interesting times if the weather happens to be on their side.

The race will be broadcasted live on Eurosport 2  starting from 15:30 CET and also in a wide range of tv channels across Europe around the same times.

Paris-Nice 2013 – Riders’ List

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Besides the now “19″ pro tour teams, 4 teams are invited with wildcards: Cofidis, IAM Cycling, Sojasun and Team Europcar.

Bradley Wiggins will not be racing to defend his title, and looks like SKY will be aiming for stage wins with the likes of Richie Porte and Jonathan Tiernan-Locke instead of a solid GC attempt. With the big names of the pelaton missing, by the looks of it  it’ll be an open race for the yellow jersey.

Last year’s runner up Luewa Westra is back, but lacking last year’s form so far. Thomas De Gendt will also be riding for Vacansoleil though not sure he is in good shape, which can be said also for Blanco’s Robert Gesink. TJ van Garderen from BMC, Rui Costa of Movistar and FDJ’s Jean-Christophe Peraud should be taken very seriously for the overall classification. Watch for Nacer Bouhanni and Marcel Kittel for the sprints and with 2 stages particularly suitable for breakaway groups, we can expect a stage win from the likes of Simon Gerrans, Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert and even the grueling Thomas Voeckler if he has the legs for it.

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