Road

Monday’s EuroFile: Eki 6th as Baguet nabs another Ruta stage; L.A. for P-N

Serge Baguet (Davitamon-Lotto) used his wile to win his second stagein a row in a wind-blasted Ruta del Sol while perennial runner-up FranciscoCabello (Comunidad Valenciana) slipped into the overall lead.Russian workhorse Viatcheslav Ekimov put Discovery Channel into thewinning break in Tuesday’s blustery third stage that saw overnight leaderCarlos García Quesada lose grip of the leader’s jersey.Strong crosswinds blasted the bunch right from the start in the 164kmmarch from just outside Granada to Jaen across the heart of Spain’s spectacularAndalucia region. García Quesada and Johan

By Andrew Hood

Photo: Graham Watson

Serge Baguet (Davitamon-Lotto) used his wile to win his second stagein a row in a wind-blasted Ruta del Sol while perennial runner-up FranciscoCabello (Comunidad Valenciana) slipped into the overall lead.Russian workhorse Viatcheslav Ekimov put Discovery Channel into thewinning break in Tuesday’s blustery third stage that saw overnight leaderCarlos García Quesada lose grip of the leader’s jersey.Strong crosswinds blasted the bunch right from the start in the 164kmmarch from just outside Granada to Jaen across the heart of Spain’s spectacularAndalucia region. García Quesada and Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon-Lotto),who started the stage sitting second, both missed the move.Many teams had riders represented in the break and no one seemed toointerested in giving chase in the adverse conditions. At one point thegap topped 20 minutes, but Comunidad Valenciana was content to put Cabellointo the leader’s jersey. Twice a runner-up at Ruta, only two relativelyeasy stages remain.

Andalucia in the spring.

Andalucia in the spring.

Photo: Graham Watson

Despite a lineup that includes a stellar list of sprinters – Tom Boonen,Erik Zabel, Alessandro Petacchi, Robbie McEwen and Oscar Freire, just toname a few — but so far they haven’t a chance to stretch their legs.That doesn’t look to change in Wednesday’s fourth stage, which hitsthree challenging climbs in the final 30km that could split the bunch.

Ruta del Sol (SPA 2.1), Stage 3, Vegas Del Genil to Jaen, 164 km
1. Serge Baguet (Bel), Davitamon Lotto 4h 25:46
2. Stephen Schreck (Ger), T.Mobile
3. Vicente Reynes (Spa), Illes Balears
4. Serguei Ivanov (Rus), T.Mobile
5. Kevin Van Impe (Bel), Chocolade Jacques – all same timeOverall standings after three stages
1. Francisco Cabello (Spa), C. Valenciana) 13h 00:27
2. Daniel Moreno (Spa), Relax Fuenlabrada)  a  01:30
3. José Luis Martínez (Spa), C. Valenciana) a  02:36
4. Vicente Reynes (Spa), Illes Balears)     a 02:46
5. Juan Manuel Garate (Spa), Saunier Duval) a  03:00

Fassa does 1-2 in Laigueglia
Fassa Bortolo kept the Trofeo Laigueglia in-house after Kim Kirchendelivered a fine victory in Tuesday’s semi-classic along the Italian Riviera.With two-time defending champion Filippo Pozzato out sick, Fassa Bortolowas intent on keeping the trophy in their possession despite the departureof Pozzato to Quick Step. Fassa Bortolo put two riders into the winningfour-man breakaway and used its advantage to deliver the win.Early in the race, Florent Brard (Agritubel) jumped away and carvedout a lead pushing 10 minutes, but the Italians weren’t going to standfor that and he was duly reeled in with about 50km to go.Things split apart over the Passo Balestrino, the key climb about 15kmfrom the finish. Fassa Bortolo set the pace with Dario Frigo and Kim Kirchenextracting themselves from the hard-fighting bunch. Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Bianchi)and Paolo Tiralongo (Panaria) followed coming over the climb. Despite ahard chase, including some good riding by Chris Baldwin (Navigators), thequartet held on to fight for the spoils.Fassa played its advantage, sending Frigo on an attack, forcing theothers to chase before Kirchen finished them off to take the win aheadof Pellizotti.42nd Trofeo Laigueglia (ITA 1.1), 183km
1. Kim Kirchen (Lux), Fassa Bortolo 4h50:00
2. Franco Pellizotti (Ita), Liquigas-Bianchi
3. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita), Ceramica Panaria – Navigare
4. Dario Frigo (Ita), Fassa Bortolo — all same time
5. Ruggero Marzoli (Ita), Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil  +0:37
Others:
28. Christopher Baldwin (USA), Navigators +0:51
80. Phil Zajicek (USA), Navigators +9:00

LA in Paris-Nice
Lance Armstrong will ride in the Paris-Nice race in March, althoughhe has still not said if he will attempt a seventh straight victory thissummer in the Tour de France.Armstrong will line up against former winners such as Alexandre Vinokourov(T-Mobile) and Jorg Jaksche (Liberty Seguros) in the March 6-13 race, organizerssaid Monday.Armstrong’s squad has switched sponsors, and he now rides for the DiscoveryChannel team. He has made it clear his focus this year will be winningsome of the spring classic races that have always been given less priorityon his cycling calendar.The return to Paris-Nice will be the first time Armstrong has racedthere since 1998, when he nearly quit cycling but came back to win sixconsecutive Tours.Paris-Nice will also be the official kick off to the ProTour calendarfor 2005.Stages for Paris-Nice, March 6-13
Prologue, March 6, Issy-les-Moulineaux 4km
Stage 1, March 7, Etampes to Chabris 186.5km
Stage 2, March 8, La Châtre to Thiers, 191km
Stage 3, March 9, Thiers to Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, 174km
Stage 4, March 10, Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to Montélimar,185km
Stage 5, March 11, Rognes to Toulon (Mont-Faron), 172.5km
Stage 6, March 12, La Crau to Cannes, 184km
Stage 7, March 13, Nice-Nice, 135km
— By The Associated Press

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