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Live Coverage: Paris-Nice, Stage 5

12:28 PM: Good morning and welcome!Welcome to the VeloNews Live Coverage of the 66th Paris-Nice. Today's we have the 172.5km fifth stage from Althen-des-Paluds to Sisteron, across the heart of Provence. The stage opens with a challenging Cat. 2 in the first 30km that's prime real estate for an attack. Three more Cat. 3s await in the rollercoaster stage, which ends with an 18km loop around Sisteron.

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  • 12:28 PM: Good morning and welcome!

    Welcome to the VeloNews Live Coverage of the 66th Paris-Nice.

    Today’s we have the 172.5km fifth stage from Althen-des-Paluds to Sisteron, across the heart of Provence. The stage opens with a challenging Cat. 2 in the first 30km that’s prime real estate for an attack.

    Three more Cat. 3s await in the rollercoaster stage, which ends with an 18km loop around Sisteron.

  • 12:39 PM: Millar out

    Brit David Millar of Slipstream-Chipotle will not be starting the stage today. Once touted as a GC threat here, he finished more than 21 minutes back yesterday.

  • 12:51 PM: We’re off!

    We have 146 riders on the road. Besides Millar, Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas), and William Bonnet (Credit Agricole) are headed home early.

  • 12:55 PM: A bit anxious today, are we?

    We’ve got some early attacks from Freddy Bichot of Agritubel and Anthony Geslin of Bougues Telecom. But they aren’t going far, we don’t think.

  • 12:56 PM: Now Clement

    With Geslin and Bichot caught, Bouygues Telecom is sending Stef Clement off. He has a few seconds’ gap.

  • 12:59 PM: McGee out

    CSC’s Bradley McGee has packed it in.

  • 1:02 PM: The Col de Murs

    We’ve hit the first climb and race officials are reporting more attrition: Gerolsteiner’s Carlo Westphal and Silence Lotto’s Johan Van Summeren will be pursuing other interests.

  • 1:04 PM: All together now.

    We’re all here. This first climb, a 2nd category, tops out 30.5kmfrom the start.

  • 1:08 PM: Rabobank

    Rabo riders are at the front, protecting their man in yellow, who is having no trouble with this first ascent.

  • 1:14 PM: Gerolsteiner

    Westphal’s withdrawal is not great news for Davide Rebellin. The veteran Rebellin may be hoping to use today’s rather unpredictable stage to attack the young race leader Gesink. For that he could use all the team support available.

  • 1:19 PM: Bouygues again.

    Bouygues Telecom’s Jerome Pineau and Lampre’s Paolo Tiralongo have a little gap as we head up our first climb. Watch for young Clement Lhotellerie, to protect his polka dot jersey here.

  • 1:27 PM: Approaching the summit

    looks like they have reeled in Pineau and Tiralongo

  • 1:28 PM: Yessir, Lhotellerie

    Lhotellerie protects his jersey by grabbing the first-place KOM points

  • 1:30 PM: Ok, now this is interesting

    Agritubel’s Christophe Moreau, Pineau (again), and Credit Agricole’s Remy Pauriol have a bit of a gap.

  • 1:35 PM: Even more interesting

    Philippe Gilbert has bridged up. The group has about ten seconds.

  • 1:36 PM: Beppu out

    Lhotellerie has lost a teammate. Japan’s Fumiyuki Beppu has given up.

  • 1:39 PM: Where are we at?

    We are at about km48, looks like, approaching our first intermediate sprint at Saint Saturnin-Les Apt at km50 … and we still have our four men with a tenuous lead.

  • 1:41 PM: Gilbert grabs the points

    The little break makes it through the bonus sprint. Cadel Evans is leading the chase to bring them back … or to join them?

  • 1:43 PM: We have a little separation

    The pack has broken up a bit after Evans led the charge to bring back the break. We have 24 or 25 riders with a bit of a gap as we pass the 53km point.

  • 1:46 PM: Next stop

    Our next course is the Col de Javon, a third category climb. We’ll reach the summit in about 8km. We’re trying to get an ID on all the riders in this little separation.

    Evans — who is working for Silence Lottos’s GC leader Yaroslav Popovych — may be looking to freak out our young race leader on this roller coaster terrain.

  • 1:51 PM: Gesink

    Yellow Jersey Robert Gesink has a 32-second GC advantage on Rebellin and 42 seconds on Popovych. Ag2R’s Rinaldo Nocentini is in between at 35 seconds.

  • 1:57 PM: An intriguing little group here

    The 24 riders have 45 seconds. In there we see the initial four breakaway men: Gilbert, Moreau, Pineau and Pauriol. We also see CSC’s Karsten Kroon, Evans, Alexandre Botcharov, Pierre Rolland, Bouygues Telecom’s Staf Clement and Quik Step’s Carlos Barredo.

  • 1:59 PM: 1 km to the top

    The breakaway is 1 km from the top of the second climb.

  • 2:09 PM: 65.5 km

    We are at km66 and Credit Agricole’s Pierre Rolland has attacked the breakaway.

  • 2:12 PM: 38 seconds

    Gesink’s Rabo men are leading the chase, of course. There’s no major GC threat in the breakaway (Quick Step’s Barredo is the best placed at 4.07 behind Gesink), but they want to show they have the chops to control the race, and this move is nothing if not … disruptive.

  • 2:15 PM: Coming back together

    Evans, Gilbert, Pauriol, Goubert and Pineau have been absorbed. There are still 16 riders away.

  • 2:20 PM: Race radio says:

    Mario Aerts (Silence Lotto) and Remy Gregorio (FdJ) have dropped out of Paris-Nice.

  • 2:22 PM: Should have mentioned …

    That Peirre Rolland was re-absorbed by the breakaway.

  • 2:26 PM: The lead group:

    David Arroyo,
    Mathieu Perget,
    Karsten Kron,
    Alexandre Botcharov,
    Simon Gerrans,
    Pierre Rolland,
    Benoit Vaugrenard,
    Manuele Mori,
    Aurelien Passeron,
    Staf Clement,
    Maxime Monfort ,
    Jose Luis Arrieta,
    Carlos Barredo,
    Christophe Moreau,
    Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez,
    Geoffroy Lequatre.

  • 2:28 PM: Km79

    They had 1:25 at the 79km marker.

  • 2:32 PM: No what?

    They are over the day’s third climb, the Cote de Sault. The feed zone is coming up. There’s some technical up and down over the next 70 or 80k’s … this may be a break that Rabo is comfortable with giving a bit of a leash.

  • 2:33 PM: Rebellin loses another colleague

    Tom Stamsnijder of Gerolsteiner has dropped out.

  • 2:42 PM: More from the race radio

    Agritubel’s Freddy Bichot, who you’ll recall was on the attack at km4 this morning, has quit the race.

  • 2:56 PM: The gap

    2.05 is the latest. Rabobank is rolling through at the front.

  • 2:58 PM: 67km to go

    They are near the town of Banon.

  • 2:59 PM: Hood checks in

    VeloNews’ Andrew Hood talked to Gesink this morning. He says the young rider was tickled pink to be in yellow. He was the center of attention as the sign-in this morning.

    ‘It feels nice to have the jersey. The team is motivated to help me. I feel strong, but there are some hard stages to come.’

  • 3:02 PM: Nice day

    There’s absolutely spectacular weather for the bumpy course across the heart of Provence. Riders have finally ditched the arm warmers with temperatures pushing into the 70s. Lots of white arms and legs out there.

  • 3:04 PM: Rabobank on the front

    Rabobank has five riders pinned at the front of the bunch with Gesink tucked in safely. A Dutchman hasn’t won Paris-Nice since Michael Boogerd in 1999.

    The break has just over two minutes’ lead.

  • 3:07 PM: Hood spoke with the Slipstream folks this morning

    David Millar did not start because he came down with a nasty cold and didn’t want to risk future dates for a lost cause. Millar is returning to the team’s homebase in Girona, Spain, to recover.

  • 3:09 PM: The chase

    Rabobank is not messing around. They’ve got the pack stretched out. Wind is from the riders’ right so they have a bit of an echelon going on. Gesink is tucked in around 5th.

  • 3:13 PM: 54km to go

    Approaching Saint Etienne Les Orgues. The gap is 2:11.

  • 3:14 PM: Voigt

    Jens Voigt was happy with his ride up Ventoux yesterday:

    “If I could have hit the top flat part of the road, I think I would have had a chance to go for the stage. I went alone because the other guys in the breakaway weren’t committed. ”

    Voigt says he’s a bit off form this spring because of a new baby at home.

    “There were some complications and she was in intensive care for several weeks. I barely rode at all, which is normal because I wanted to be with my family. Now I am trying to catch up,” he said.

  • 3:16 PM: 51km to go

    The gap is 2:17.

  • 3:21 PM: Let’s get up to date here.

    We have 17 riders off the front. The best placed rider is Quick Step’s Carlos Barredo, who is 4.07 behind Gesink. They have around a 2:30 gap as Gesink’s Rabobank’s team leads the chase.

    They have 47km to go to the finish, about 37km to the day’s last climb, the third category Cote des Marquises. That high point is about 10k from the finish in Sisteron.

  • 3:25 PM: Slipping through town

    The terrain looks a bit like the U.S. Southwest here. The pack is snaking through an old village. Rabobank has it stretched out, they don’t want to let Barredo increase his lead.

  • 3:28 PM: More on the finish

    Hood checked out the finish this morning. It involves a 18.7km circuit in the hills above Sisteron. On the first go around the circuit, the riders will hit the category 3 Cote de Marquises.

    “That’s quickly followed by another unrated climb before a fast, narrow descent back into Sisteron with flat roads in the final 5km. There’s a slight raise with 2km to go, but otherwise flat and straight into the finale,” Hood says.

  • 3:29 PM: Rebellin’s team

    Gerolsteiner has been persuaded to help the Rabo boys. Barredo is a threat to Rebellin’s second place standing.

  • 3:29 PM: 42km to go

    And the gap is opening up – it’s now 2:51

  • 3:32 PM: The gap is growing

    It’s hit 3 minutes even at 39km to go

  • 3:37 PM: Barredo

    Barredo is prominent at the front of the break. Maybe that’s why the gap is growing. Meanwhile Stef Clement has dropped out of the breakaway. So it’s now a 16-man endeavor.

  • 3:43 PM: An unrated climb

    The chase has hit a bit of a climb and Gerolsteiner has put some gents on the front. The pace is pretty tight – but the break is working hard, too, with Moreau and Barredo throwing down.

  • 3:46 PM: The gap grows ….

    It’s 3:14 with 28.5km to go. Back in the chase, Gerolsteiner is now fully committed, perhaps seeing that Rabobank can’t make a dent.

  • 3:49 PM: And Gerolsteiner is getting it done.

    The gap is under 3 minutes again. The pace in the chase is getting intense. CSC’s Jason McCartney has dropped off.

  • 3:54 PM: 2:45 is the gap

    Gerolsteiner is dragging them back. Just 22km to go

  • 3:57 PM: Entering the finish circuit

    And Credit Agricole’s Alexandre Botcharov is attacking the break …

  • 4:01 PM: 16.5 km to go

    The gap is 2:24 but the breakaway is blowing apart. We have 5 off the front.

    In the chase, there is some desperation.

  • 4:03 PM: The five:

    They are Kroon, Rolland, Mori, Barredo and Moreau.

  • 4:05 PM: 30 seconds

    The five have a half-minute gap over the breakaway.

  • 4:09 PM: The full IDs

    The five are Karsten Kroon (CSC), Pierre Rolland (Credit Agricole), Manuelle Mori (Saunier Duval), Carlos Barredo (Quick Step), and Christophe Moreau (Agritubel).

  • 4:10 PM: Moreau

    Moreau grabbed the KOM points on the last climb on the finish loop.

  • 4:10 PM: The peloton

    The peloton reached the top of the Cote des Marquises 2:25 behind the leaders.

  • 4:11 PM: 10k to go

    With 10k to go for the five men, Barredo is attacking them.

  • 4:13 PM: The pack

    The peloton is shedding all but the strongest.

  • 4:16 PM: Rabobank’s Flecha

    Flecha is hammering at the front of the chase, with Gesink on his wheel.

  • 4:17 PM: Barredo has 10 seconds

    Ahead of the other four.

  • 4:18 PM: 5k to go

    for Barredo. We hear the chase is 2:45 back, but it’s very fluid with everything breaking up all over.

  • 4:20 PM: 3km to go

    And Barredo has 15 seconds. He could move up into the top five or six on GC.

  • 4:21 PM: Two K’s

    Carlos Barredo still has 15 seconds.

  • 4:22 PM: the kite

    1km to go, Barredo is passing it again (he saw it on the first lap, too).

  • 4:22 PM: Barredo gets it.

    Carlos Barredo of Quick Step has won the stage.

  • 4:26 PM: The five:

    1. Carlos Barredo (Spain, Quick Step)
    2. Karsten Kroon (Netherlands, CSC)
    3. Manuele Mori (Italy, Saunier Duval)
    4. Christophe Moreau (France, Agritubel)
    5. Pierre Rolland (France, Credit Agricole)

  • 4:26 PM: Gesink

    Gesink will keep the jersey, but his team did not wrap itself in glory today.

  • 4:34 PM: Allrighty then,

    Thanks for following along with us. Check back with soon for a full report from Andrew Hood, complete results and a photo gallery from Graham Watson. And yes, we will have a live report both days this weekend.