Van Petegem takes Paris-Nice lead

Tuesday’s hilly windy stage to Saint Etienne turned the Paris-Nice classification upside down, with Peter Van Petegem outsprinting the gutsy but luckless Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) to give Mercury-Viatel its first taste of the leader's jersey in a major European stage race. Vinokourov was on the attack for the entire stage, early on in a 19-strong group which included Floyd Landis (Mercury-Viatel) and Jonathan Vaughters (Credit Agricole). He split the break together with Laurent Dufaux (Saeco) and escaped on the final climb to hold on until the final meter, when Van Petegem came flying

By William Fotheringham, VeloNews Correspondent

Van Petegem

Van Petegem

Photo: Graham Watson

Tuesday’s hilly windy stage to Saint Etienne turned the Paris-Nice classification upside down, with Peter Van Petegem outsprinting the gutsy but luckless Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) to give Mercury-Viatel its first taste of the leader’s jersey in a major European stage race.

Vinokourov was on the attack for the entire stage, early on in a 19-strong group which included Floyd Landis (Mercury-Viatel) and Jonathan Vaughters (Credit Agricole). He split the break together with Laurent Dufaux (Saeco) and escaped on the final climb to hold on until the final meter, when Van Petegem came flying past.

Race leader Nico Mattan (Cofidis) blew on the final short climb 10km from the finish, where the 100-strong peloton was whittled down to just 15 riders who will probably end up deciding the “Race to the Sun” between them. They include former world No. 1 Michele Bartoli (Mapei-Quick Step), Andrei Tchmil (Lotto-Adecco), up-and-coming Frenchman Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) and last year’s third finisher Francisco Mancebo (Banesto).

On a bitter day for Team Telekom, last year’s winner Andreas Kloden abandoned, but he was not the only one: top sprinters Jaan Kirsipuu (AG2R) and Robbie McEwen (Domo-Farm Frites) went as well.

Photo Gallery

Results

1. Peter Van Petegem (B), Mercury-Viatel), 195.4km in 5:00:53.
2. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), Telekom
3. Dario Frigo (I), Fassa Bortolo
4. Michele Bartoli (I), Mapei-Quick Step
5. Andrei Tchmil (B), Lotto-Adecco
6. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), iBanesto.com
7. Laurent Dufaux (Swi), Saeco
8. Dave Bruylandts (B), Domo-Farm Frites
9. Raimondas Rumsas (Lit), Fassa Bortolo
10. Jorg Jaksche (G), ONCE
11. Patrice Halgand (F), Jean Delatour
12. Mario Aerts (B), Lotto-Adecco
13. Rolf Huser (Swi), Coast
14. David Moncoutie (F), Cofidis
15. Tobias Steinhauser (G), Gerolsteiner, all s.t.
16. Jose Azevedo (P), ONCE at 0:07.
17. Laurent Brochard (F), Jean Delatour, at 0:52.
18. Stephane Heulot (F), Big Mat.
19. Emmanuel Magnien (F), Française des Jeux.
20. Marcos Serrano (Sp), ONCE
21. Bobby Julich (USA), Credit Agricole, all s.t.
39. David Millar (GB), Cofidis, at 1:41.
40. Nico Mattan (B), Cofidis, 1:41.
105. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), Credit Agricole, 17:01.

Overall:
1. Van Petegem, in 10:29:35.
2. Jaksche, at 0:11.
3. Rumsas, at 0:15.
4. Frigo, at 0:16.
5. Tchmil, at 0:27.
6. Aerts, at 0:29.
7. Moncoutie, s.t.
8. Vinokourov, at 0:33.
9. Dufaux, s.t.
10. Halgand, at 0:36.
11. Mancebo, s.t.
12. Steinhauser, at 0:39.
13. Bruylandts, s.t.
14. Bartoli, at 0:45.
15. Azevedo, at 0:46.
16. Huser, at 0:57.
17. Magnien, at 1:11.
18. Heulot, at 1:12.
19. Brochard, at 1:20.
20. Bingen Fernandez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:29.
23. Mattan, at 1:40.
24. Julich, at 1:42.
25. Millar, at 1:48.
103. O’Grady, at 17:07.