Sylvain Chavanel of Omega Pharma-Quicktep outsprinted Philippe Gilbert, Jose Joaquin Rojas and Samuel Dumoulin to win his first race of the season. It was Team SKY setting the pace all day long for their leader Richie Porte; they erased an 11-man early break and a late escape attempt by Chavanel and Astana’s Andriy Grivko. Porte kept his yellow jersey and is now 32 seconds clear of his rivals, still Col d”Eze will be a real test for him.
Johann Tschopp of IAM Cycling was on the break once again, collecting 33 more mountain points and won the mountains classification of Paris-Nice with a huge lead, one stage early on. With this win, Sylvain Chavanel is now leading in the points classification and will wear the green jersey on the final stage of Paris-Nice and will most probably keep it at the end of the day. Chavanel also moved above Lieuwe Westra in GC and now sits at thirs position. Andrew Talansky, lost his green jersey but is still leading the young riders’ classification and will wear the white jersey tomorrow, though Teejay Van Garderen is 20 seconds behind and he is better time-trialist compared to Talansky.
Check out Paris-Nice Stage 7 Preview for more detail.
1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 29:40:31
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 32″
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 42″
4. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 49″
6. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 52″
7. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 53″
8. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha
9. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 54″
10. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 1′ 08″
1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 5:14:23
2. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
3. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
The Race to the Sun continues south to the Mediterranean on 7th March, Thursday. Brioude and Saint-Vallier are the stage towns and we’re going to have 7 categorized climbs on the way. It is a bit longer version of last two years’ stage 4 parcours. 2 years ago, it was Thomas Voeckler‘s solo breakaway in the rain; last year, bunch sprint won by Gianni Meersman within a select group of 50 riders. Sylvain Chavanel still looks confident and lustful for a stage win and he showed on wednesday that he can stay with the elite group in the climbs so look for him if it comes to a bunch sprint.
The climbs won’t be hard enough to make much change in the GC competition but will be the second shake-up for the overall standings. For the GC to settle, we’ll have to wait for the queen-stage on Friday.
Châtel-Guyon and Brioude are the stage towns and we’ll be heading south once more on 6th March, Wednesday. Similar to Stage 2, the pelaton will loop around Brioude before passing the finish line but this time, they’ll be facing a 2nd category climb within the circuit.
The stage is very suitable for a breakaway group to succeed. Tom Boonen of Omega-Pharma-Quickstep lost more time in the GC, probably deliberately, so it won’t be a suprise to see him in an escape group. I don’t think the pelaton would let Thomas Voeckler or Simon Gerrans to escape unless it is quite a large one, which is very unlikely.
If the breakaway get caught before the Cote de Mauvaganat, it’ll most likely be a group sprint and amongst the sprinters; Jose Joaquin Rojas and Sylvain Chavanel have the best chance of staying with the bunch in the climb. I don’t think the stage will have a big impact with the GC but Elia Viviani will lost his yellow jersey for sure.
The ex-track cyclist from Europcar surprised everyone on Sunday with his win over the 2.9 km very technical prologue in Paris-Nice. As a road cyclicts, Gaudin’s most important success was coming second in 2011 Tour of Luxemburg prologue. Damien Gaudin finished the circuit in 3′ 37″, Sylvain Chavanel of Omega Pharma-Quick Step finished in second place and last year’s runner-up Lieuwe Westra of Vacansoleil-DCM came third and showed that he is in form for this year’s GC race.
1. Damien Gaudin (Fra) Team Europcar 0:03:37
2. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 01″
3. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
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.