There’s seemingly no one who’s capable of stopping Alberto Contador through the first weeks of the 2009 season. The Spanish climber dropped arch-rival Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) on the mountain dubbed Mont Ventoux’s “little sister” to win Friday’s sixth stage and take back the overall lead at Paris-Nice. Contador, winner of the opening time trial in Amilly on Sunday, bolted away from the pack on the snow-covered, 1600m Montagne de Lure summit to win for the fourth time this year.
Jeremy Roy (Française des Jeux) won the fifth stage of Paris-Nice on Thursday. Roy won the 204km stage from Annonay to Vallon Pont d'Arc, crossing the line in 4hr 58min 47sec. Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), retained the overall lead.
Britain's Olympic gold medalist Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) pulled out of Paris-Nice on Wednesday to attend the funeral of his wife's grandmother, team sports director Lionel Marie said. Wiggins scratched from the 173.5km stage from Vichy to St Etienne after placing second in the opening time trial only to lose 11 minutes on the leaders in Tuesday's third stage.
Christian Vande Velde’s world went from black to kisses from the podium girls in just four days at Paris-Nice. The Garmin-Slipstream captain attacked with 20km to go out of a seven-man breakaway to snatch a thrilling solo victory in a hard-fought rainy and cold day in Wednesday’s fourth stage at the 67th Paris-Nice. “I was good at (Tour of) California, nothing special, so to come out and do that today, it gives me a lot of confidence,” Vande Velde told VeloNews. “The form is coming along really well. I am just surprising myself.”
Alberto Contador gave up his yellow jersey — at least temporarily — to Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel Tuesday after losing 1:10 in the third stage to a breakaway group containing Chavanel.
Heinrich Haussler slammed home his third victory of the 2009 season on Monday in the second stage at the 67th Paris-Nice. The Cervélo TestTeam rider cranked up his sprint with 250m to go in the 195.5km stage and had plenty of time to thump his chest as he crossed the line clear by three bike lengths. Coming through second was Mark Renshaw (Columbia-Highroad) with Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre) slotting into third. "The sprint wasn't easy. We were racing into a headwind so I tucked my bike in behind Renshaw and the Columbia team,” said the 25-year-old Haussler.
Alberto Contador likes to say he doesn’t feel obliged to win, so perhaps it's just that he can’t help himself. The 25-year-old Spaniard is turning into a modern-day cannibal, seemingly winning at will as he continues his superb start of the 2009 season.
Alberto Contador says he’s quietly optimistic ahead of Paris-Nice, which begins Sunday with an individual time trial in Amilly. Contador, already a winner at the Volta ao Algarve in his first race of the 2009 season last month, said he hopes to be among the best. “I am not obsessed with winning, because for this time happen everything has to go the right way,” Contador said in an interview released by his press agent. “My idea is to do the best possible and I believe the fans understand this.”
The UCI and the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) reached an agreement on Friday regarding drug-testing measures in the Paris-Nice stage race, which starts on Sunday. "There was a strong desire on both sides to work together," UCI president Pat McQuaid said. AFLD president Pierre Bordry, who declared himself "very satisfied" with the agreement, said the drug-testing program for the Paris-Nice would serve as a test prior to a new collaboration between the two bodies during the 2009 Tour de France.
Most observers expect Alberto Contador to ride away with the victory at the 67th Paris-Nice, which begins Sunday with a time trial in Amilly. The Spanish climber, who won Paris-Nice as part of his breakout 2007 season, is the five-star favorite following his victory at the Volta ao Algarve to start his season last month. But expectations aside, the eight-day “Race to the Sun” is known to deliver a surprise or two in what’s the season’s first major stage race. There will be plenty of challengers nipping at Astana’s heels among the 20-team field.
Fuji-Servetto will be heading to Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, but not Paris-Nice. That’s what the Court of Arbitration in Sport ruled Friday in an interim decision that the Spain-based team will be allowed to start the two upcoming Italian races, but stopped short of allowing the team to race at Paris-Nice, slated to start Sunday. Fuji-Servetto is the new name for the troubled Saunier Duval team that last year saw two of its star riders – Riccardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli – to test positive for the banned blood booster CERA.
Team Saxo Bank is expecting big things in this year’s Paris-Nice and brings a stacked squad that includes candidates for stage wins as well as a shot at the GC for the season’s first major stage race. Headlining the team’s GC hopes will be Fränk Schleck, winner of a stage at the Tour of California last month, while Olympic silver medalist Gustav Larsson has a chance to win the opening time trial for the “Race to the Sun,” set for March 8-15.
The inclusion of a never-used climb dubbed Mont Ventoux’s “little sister” should prove decisive in the eight-day Paris-Nice. Garmin-Slipstream and Columbia-High Road each received invitations Thursday to start the 67th Paris-Nice as officials released details of the eight-day route with a few surprises thrown in for the season’s first major stage race. Just a day after being snubbed for the Giro d’Italia, Fuji-Servetto and Barloworld were both left off a list of 20 teams invited to the Race to the Sun, set for March 8-15.
A rash of new anti-doping controls and cycling’s tightening noose around would-be cheaters is ruffling some feathers in the peloton. Riders staged a protest before the start of Sunday’s final stage at Paris-Nice for what they characterized as unfair treatment of Kevin Van Impe, a Belgian rider who was forced to give urine samples for a surprise control Saturday as he was preparing the funeral of his infant son.
Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) survived a flurry of attacks to win the 66th edition of Paris-Nice on Sunday after Luis-León Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) took the slimmest of victories in the final stage around Nice. Rebellin, who saw the leader's jersey slip away to Alberto Contador in the finale last year, was delighted to have held onto it this time around.
- 12:31 PM: Good day!
Welcome to Saturday Morning Live, from Paris Nice. It's the same as VeloNews's weekday live coverage, we're just dressed more casually.
Today's sixth stage is another tough one. The 206km journey from Sisteron to Cannes is the longest stage of the race. It features seven rated climbs, including the decisive cat. 2 Col du Tanneron with 20km to go.
- 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.
Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) is one of those riders who can do just about anything. He chases down breakaways for the GC captains, goes on the attack to take off the pressure in the spring classics and even managed to finish 10th in last year’s Vuelta a España. Friday was payback time for the 26-year-old Barredo, who attacked late in the 172.5km fifth stage across Provence to drop the remnants of a 17-man breakaway and claim Quick Step’s third win in six days of racing at the 66th Paris-Nice.
- 12:25 PM: Good day!
And welcome to VeloNews' Live Coverage of the fourth stage of the 2008 Paris Nice, a 176km day from Montelimar to Mont Ventoux.
Today's course combines tradition with something a little new: The course traces four Cat. 3 climbs before tackling Ventoux's "undiscovered" north face. The 17km final Cat. 1 climb finishes at the Mont Serein ski station, about 5km short of the observatory summit featured in the Tour de France.
Robert Gesink (Rabobank) couldn’t have picked a bigger stage to announce himself to the world. Holland’s first pure climber in a generation surged into the yellow jersey after Thursday’s summit finish on Mont Ventoux in a searing attack with 5km to go that left everyone choking on his fumes — except 2007 Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto). While Evans slipped past to win the stage, Gesink proved he’ll be a man to reckon with as he took control of Paris-Nice with three tough stages to go.
- 12:31 PM: Good day and Welcome
to Velonews.com's Live Coverage of the third stage of the 66th edition of Paris-Nice, a 65.5-km jaunt between Fleurie and St Etienne.
The riders left Fleurie this morning at 11:45.
A Frenchman hasn’t stood atop the Paris-Nice podium since Laurent Jalabert won the last of his three straight titles in 1997. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) promises he can restore French pride in the "Race to the Sun" after moving into the race leader’s jersey in Wednesday’s roller-coaster stage that saw Finnish rider Kjell Carlström (Liquigas) take a breakaway stage victory into St. Étienne.
- 12:41 PM: Good day and
welcome to Velonews.com's Live Coverage of the second stage of the 66th edition of Paris-Nice, a 201-kilometer stage from Nevers to Belleville.
158 riders left Nevers this morning at 11:45. The official winner of the 2006 Tour de France Oscar Pereiro and Pierrick Fedrigo have opted not to start. Pereiro lost more than 13 minutes in yesterday's wind-blown stage. Fedrigo got caught in a crash and is suffering from the problems from that.
Crashes and nasty weather are turning the 66th Paris-Nice into a war of attrition as Gert Steegmans (Quick Step) sprinted to his second straight win Tuesday in an exciting, attack-riddled 201km soggy march. The big Belgian didn’t want to wait for the bunch and made easy work of a four-up sprint on a slight rise into Belleville, three seconds ahead of a 44-rider chase group that was missing several GC contenders, among them Fränk Schleck (CSC – 76th at 2:56) and Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi – 53rd at 1:15) and José Angel Gómez Marchante (Saunier Duval – abandon).
Paris-Nice organizers shortened Monday's stage 1 due to heavy rain and wind, but the result was one of the most exciting days in years. When the race hit the crosswinds, echelons formed and some favorites risked getting knocked out of contention. In the end, most of them caught back on to the front group and even race leader Thor Hushovd, who had been dropped on the days only climb, caught the front group and finished third to retain his yellow jersey. Graham Watson captured the stage and shared his gallery with VeloNews readers.
One of the worst winter storms of the year ripped across central France on Monday and left the Paris-Nice peloton looking like shredded wheat in a brutal, weather-shortened first stage. Only a Belgian could be happy racing in howling crosswinds, piercing rain and plummeting temperatures, so it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise as Tom Boonen’s favorite lead-out man, Gert Steegmans, out-toughed a reduced bunch in a 40-up sprint on a steep climbing finish into Nevers to claim victory.
- 1:04 PM: Good day and
welcome to VeloNews.com's Live Coverage of the 1st stage of the 66th edition of "The Race to the Sun," Paris-Nice.
If it’s short, fast and flat, chances are good that Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) will be among the favorites in any opening prologue. The 30-year-old Norwegian sprinter confirmed he’s one of the peloton’s best “short course” time trial specialists Sunday with a solid four-second victory in the wet and windy 4.6km opener at the 66th Paris-Nice.
- 01:47 PM: Good morning...and welcome to the VeloNews.com live coverage of Paris-Nice, the "race to the sun," the traditional start of the European road season.
Paris-Nice used to be cycling’s sparkling season kickoff, a chance for the sport to shake off the winter doldrums and click fully into gear for the year’s first major stage race. The once shining “Race to the Sun” has since been transformed into the sport’s major battleground in the ugly, drawn-out power struggle between cycling’s governing body and the sport’s preeminent race organizer, Amaury Sport Organisation. At the dawn of Sunday’s prologue start of the 66th edition, the UCI and ASO are showing no signs of a last-minute cease-fire.
Lost amid Wednesday’s headlines was the official release of the invited teams for the upcoming 66th edition of Paris-Nice. The “Race to the Sun” will have a strong American presence with both High Road and Slipstream-Chipotle earning bids. Twenty teams with eight riders each will take the start March 9 with a 4.3km opening prologue in Amilly. The race concludes per recent tradition on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice on March 16. Route details have not been released.
Tuesday’s EuroFile: Boonen and Bettini banged-up but ready for MSR; Contador relishes Paris-Nice win
Quick Step-Innergetic stars Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini promise to be in the mix at this weekend’s Milan-San Remo, but both men readily admit they won’t be 100 percent for the Italian classic. Boonen pulled out of Paris-Nice ahead of Sunday’s finale after not winning a stage for the first time in three years with nagging back pain. The Belgian sprinter underwent chiropractic back treatments Monday and Tuesday and plans a long six-hour training ride Wednesday to test his condition. “Tom has some nagging back pain and that’s never easy for the longest race of the season,” team spokesman
[nid:37799]The future is now for Alberto Contador after the Spanish climber pulled the double at Paris-Nice on Sunday to win the final stage and claim the overall prize that positions him as Spain’s next great hope. The 24-year-old Discovery Channel rider uncorked a searing attack on the Cat. 1 Col d’Eze to gap overnight leader Davide Rebellin and drove home a stirring victory on Nice’s Promenade des Anglais to turn a six-second deficit into a 26-second winning margin.
[nid:37790]The Spanish armada threw down an attack in Saturday’s brutal 200km sixth stage at Paris-Nice, but Davide Rebellin stood firm to retain the overall lead with one stage to go. Climbing sensation Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) unleashed a brutal acceleration on the last of nine rated climbs, the Col du Tanneron with 20km to go, to gap the Gerolsteiner leader by 25 seconds. Rebellin never panicked and found some friends in the lead pack to check the aggression with less than 2km to go to retain his six-second grip on the maillot jaune.
It’s obvious Yaroslav Popovych enjoys life. The Ukraine attacker usually has a smile on his face and is quick with a joke, except when he’s on his bike. Then he’s everyone else’s worst nightmare. Popovych dropped the ax with 30km to go on the last of four rated climbs in Friday’s intense 178km fifth stage from Sorgues to Manosque to motor away from a breakaway that included Dave Zabriskie (CSC) and sent a panic jolt through the peloton.
For the second time in two weeks, Alberto Contador delivered a big win in the 2007 season ahead of some pretty heady company. Last month at the Tour of Valencia, he beat Spanish sensation Alejandro Valverde at the key climbing stage up Alto de Campello. Contador hit the repeat button Thursday in the explosive 169.5km fourth stage at Paris-Nice. The new Discovery Channel recruit dropped the likes of L’Alpe d’Huez winner Frank Schleck and Tour de France candidate Cadel Evans on the short but steep summit finish to La Croix-Neuve to take an impressive win.
You can’t blame Tom Boonen if he shot his arms up in triumph thinking that he had won a hard-fought, rising sprint into Maurs at the end of the lumpy 215.5km third stage at Paris-Nice. When he heard over his course radio that Russian rouleur Alexandr Kolobnev -- the lone holdout from the day’s four-man breakaway -- was dangling 20 seconds off the front with 7km to go, he assumed like everyone else his Quick Step henchmen would finish off the job to set up the mass gallop.
[nid:37751]The 177km second stage of the eight-day Paris-Nice started with a lot of high hopes. David Millar was talking a wire-to-wire yellow jersey run. Thomas Voekler almost held off the peloton to steal a dramatic breakaway win. Everyone else was looking at Daniele Bennati and Tom Boonen. No one was looking at Franco Pellizotti.
[nid:37738]It was expected to be a showdown between Daniele Bennati and Tom Boonen in the first stage of Paris-Nice, but it was French sprinter Jean-Patrick Nazon who surprised everyone with a long charge to the line in Buzançais on Monday. Nazon, who’s been all but invisible since winning a pair of Tour de France stages in 2003-04, burst down the left side of the peloton after sniffing out a hole with 200 meters to go.
[nid:37731]Last year, David Millar underwent wind-tunnel testing for the first time and settled into a new, sleeker aerodynamic position that on paper should have made him faster. Instead, the Scot found he actually lost power — so this season he chucked the scientific posture and replaced it with his tried-and-true position, honed over years of trial and error.
Paris-Nice, the first major stage race of the season, gets under way on Sunday without 2006 champion Floyd Landis and the Unibet.com team. The seven-stage, 1260km Race to the Sun will start with a 4.7km prologue around the Parisian suburb of Issy-Les-Moulineaux . Belgium's Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Innergetic)) and Italian rival Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) are expected to compete for the sprint finishes in the early stages. The riders will then make their way towards the south coast, with the seventh and final 129km stage being held in and around Nice on March 18. Being a short but
Unibet.com has failed in an appeal to have Paris-Nice race organizers include them in the field for this year's race, a source told AFP on Friday. The Belgian-Swedish cycling team is one of 20 ProTour teams that are supposed to have guaranteed admittance to all ProTour races. However, ASO, the company that runs Paris-Nice and the Tour de France among other events, refused to comply with UCI rules and opted not to invite Unibet.com to the Race to the Sun, which begins with a prologue on Sunday. "We began a procedure at the Nanterre (Paris region) court to try to be included in the
Thursday’s Eurofile: Strong North American contingent for Paris-Nice; UCI may adopt CSC doping controls
A healthy North American presence will highlight next week’s Paris-Nice with no less than eight riders from five teams represented. The robust contingent reflects the continued strong position of U.S. and Canadian riders in the European peloton. Paris-Nice will mark the continental arrival of most of the Americans. Tyler Farrar (Cofidis) has been racing in Europe for nearly a month while Michael Barry (T-Mobile) was in Mallorca for his team presentation and training camp last month. Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer, joined by Discovery Channel teammate Tom Danielson, will be
It took nine hours of intense haggling, but the UCI and cycling’s biggest race organizers signed a truce Monday that will save the 2007 racing season and avert a major crisis that threatened to split the sport. Next week’s Paris-Nice will start as planned without the possibility of sanctions against participating teams after cycling’s governing body and Tour de France organizer ASO hammered out a temporary agreement to keep cycling’s racing calendar intact through the 2007 season. “I am happy that the sport has got out of this crisis and look forward to a season where cycling can be the
The UCI fired back at rebel race organizers Friday and officially banned ProTour and second-tier continental teams from starting next month’s Paris-Nice race in France. The stern ruling threatens to throw the cycling into turmoil at the start of the 2007 season and marks a definitive split between cycling’s governing body and Amaury Sports Organization, the powerful media conglomerate that also owns such events as the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix. In a tersely written statement issued Friday afternoon, cycling’s governing body said “teams holding a UCI ProTour license and UCI
Freire takes Ruta by a second over CioniSpaniard Oscar Freire (Rabobank) won the final stage and the overall at the Ruta del Sol on Thursday, taking the victory from Dario Cioni (Predictor-Lotto) by a single second. The 170.9km stage from Ecija to Antequera was marked by an early break by Netherlander Piet Rooijakkers (Skil-Shimano) and Spaniard Benat Albizuri (Euskaltel-Euskadi), who built a lead of six minutes before being retrieved as the peloton entered Antequera. There, Freire finished two seconds up on a small group containing Cioni, who had led the race since Sunday. Ruta del
Wednesday’s Eurofile: Big three unified as Giro issues invites; A tough Paris-Nice; Tinkoff aims for Med’
The ongoing feud between the grand tours and the UCI turned nastier this week when Giro d’Italia organizers said they will guarantee invitations to only 18 of the 20 teams in the ProTour league for the upcoming edition of the corsa rosa. The decision shows just how deep the divisions are between cycling’s most important race organizers and the sport’s governing body. While there’s been no official word from the UCI, a strong reaction is expected. Giro organizer RCS Sport said new ProTour team Unibet.com won’t be allowed to race the season’s first grand tour (May 12-June 3) and said the
The International Cycling Union (UCI) has threatened to stop Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) holding the upcoming Paris-Nice, unless it respects the rule that states all 20 ProTour teams start every race on the ProTour circuit. The race is sanctioned by the UCI and can be held only if the organizer respects all UCI rules and regulations. According to several team managers at Doha, where the Tour of Qatar is taking place, the UCI has sent a letter to all the ProTour teams telling them that ASO's decision not to invite Unibet.com to Paris-Nice could see the French organizer banned from
Floyd Landis won more than Paris-Nice on Sunday. He secured the trust and confidence of his Phonak teammates as they look confidently toward this summer's Tour de France. His teammates rallied around Landis to preserve his slender nine-second margin in Sunday's nervous, four-climb finale to win his second major stage race inside a month. And in the process, the team and Landis promoted themselves as one of the favorites for July. CLICK HERE to play the 2006 Paris-Nice Video highlight.
Floyd Landis won more than Paris-Nice on Sunday. He secured the trust and confidence of his Phonak teammates as they look confidently toward this summer’s Tour de France. His teammates rallied around Landis to preserve his slender nine-second margin in Sunday’s nervous, four-climb finale to win his second major stage race inside a month. And in the process, the team and Landis promoted themselves as one of the favorites for July. "The most important thing was the confidence of the team and their ability to stay focused on the race," Landis said. "As far as confidence for the Tour, this is
Paris-Nice leader Floyd Landis was quick to tip his hat to his Phonak teammates after keeping the lid on a dangerous 19-man breakaway in Saturday’s potentially explosive eight-climb stage across sunny Provence. Critics had begun to grumble that Phonak – down to just five riders – wouldn’t be strong enough to control the final bumpy weekend. Landis was left isolated without teammates in Friday’s final Cat. 1 climb, providing more fuel for the doubters. But on a spectacular spring day, Landis and his boys in lime green were pinned at the front of the main bunch all day. They limited winner
There were plenty of reasons for Floyd Landis to smile Thursday after enjoying his first full day in the yellow jersey in the 193km fourth stage at Paris-Nice. The weather had improved nicely, Tom Boonen sprinted to his third win in four days and Landis’s Phonak team didn’t have to work too hard when Quick Step-Innergetic took control late to reel in a breakaway to set up the mass gallop. "Today was no problem at all," Landis said as he strode onto the podium to don the race leader’s yellow jersey. "It’s treating me good." There were no major shake-ups in the overall standings, with Landis
Floyd Landis (Phonak) ground just about everyone into the asphalt in Wednesday’s hilly 168.5km third stage to capture the overall leader’s jersey at Paris-Nice in an impressive display. Just in case the Euros hadn’t noticed that Landis came flying out of the gates this season with a big win in the debut Amgen Tour of California, he provided a wake-up call dropping everyone except Spain’s Patxi Vila (Lampre) to surge into the yellow jersey and position himself as the favorite to win Europe’s first major stage-race of the year. "I knew I had good legs after my victory in the Tour of
Christian Vande Velde (CSC) was forced to abandon the 64th Paris-Nice after crashing hard on his left shoulder in a tumble in Tuesday’s hilly second stage. X-rays later showed that there was no break in his clavicle and Vande Velde was optimistic that he could be back on the bike in time to start his next scheduled race, Criterium International, at the end of March. "There’s nothing broken, that’s the good news," Vande Velde told VeloNews via telephone. "It hurts pretty bad, though. When you get to know your body pretty well, you know when something’s not right." Vande Velde said he
No offense to Allan Davis or anyone else in Tuesday’s finish line dash, but it’s going to take more than a good try to stop Tom Boonen. The reigning world champion sprang to his second consecutive victory in Paris-Nice in Tuesday’s hilly 200km second stage and widened his lead to 17 seconds over prologue winner Bobby Julich (CSC). The Quick Step-Innergetic train did nice work to set up the mass gallop after reeling in a long breakaway by French rider Nicolas Crosbie (Agritubel). Boonen made easy work of relegating Davis to a consecutive second-place and earned his ninth win on the 2006
The rainbow jersey curse has yet to strike Tom Boonen so far this year. The reigning world champion put down a textbook-perfect sprint to win Monday’s first stage of Paris-Nice and snatch the yellow jersey away from Bobby Julich (CSC) thanks to time bonuses. It was Boonen’s eighth win in the young 2006 season, and the Belgian was already looking ahead to the spring classics moments after slamming the door shut on Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros). "It’s good to have won the stage because now I can take it easy until the end of Paris-Nice," Boonen told reporters. "For me, this race is ideal
Defending champion Bobby Julich (Team CSC) roared to victory Sunday in the 4.8km opening prologue of the 64th Paris-Nice on a day he didn’t expect to win. Julich – who enjoyed his best season last year with wins at Paris-Nice, Criterium International and the Tour of Benelux – said earlier this year he wouldn’t be chasing the smaller races, but that could change very quickly. “This is a surprise win for me today because this was not among my main goals this season,” Julich told reporters. “I only came here to gear up for other objectives later in the year.” Emboldened by the sensations of
Saturday’s EuroFile: Boonen primed for Paris-Nice; Cunego focuses on Giro; Astarloa wins Milan-Turin
Tom Boonen has been enjoying some quality training sessions around his new home in Monaco and hopes to roll into Sunday’s start of Paris-Nice ready to pop for a win or two during the eight-day “Race to the Sun.” “The weather is great and the area in and around Monaco is perfect for this important training as there are some good up hill sections,” Boonen said in a Quick Step-Innergetic release. “My teammates Kevin Hulsmans, Kevin Van Impe and Steven De Jongh have also joined me here in Monaco. It’s certainly more fun and stimulating training together.” The reigning world champion will head
Alejandro Valverde, the Spanish sensation who’s getting cartloads of hype back home, admits he’s starting to feel the pressure still four months away from the start of the Tour de France. Valverde, who nipped Lance Armstrong in a climbing stage up Courchevel before abandoning his Tour debut last year, said he hopes he can live up to expectations among Spanish fans and media. “I am starting to note the pressure, and to tell the truth, I am a little scared, but I am working so that everything turns out okay.” Valverde told the Spanish sports daily Marca. Valverde has been unofficially
Wide-open Paris-Nice routeHoping to live up to its name as the "Race to the Sun," Paris-Nice organizers revealed a 2006 route that skirts the snowy Massif Central and avoids summit finishes in an attempt to avoid course closures that have plagued recent editions. Instead - with seven stages and an opening prologue - the 2006 edition will drive down the Rhone Valley in search of good weather. Organizers from the Societe du Tour de France have also removed a long time trial to ensure what they hope will be a fight right to the finish. Following recent tradition, the course will open with a
Bobby Julich (Team CSC) advanced one day closer to the most important victory of his career after safely negotiating Saturday’s potentially dangerous 184km, six-climb stage into Cannes. Big Dutchman Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) took an impressive solo victory after dropping the remnants of the winning break on the day’s final climb at the Col du Tanneron with 20km to go. Julich, meanwhile, rode inside the protective cocoon of Bjarne Riis’s big red machine and enjoyed a relatively easy sunny ride through France’s stunning Var region. Jens Voigt muscled up the Cat. 2 Tanneron to reel in some
Bobby Julich went to bed last night joking to Team CSC roommate Jens Voigt about their prospects of snagging the maillot jaune in Friday’s 172.5km climbing stage up Mont Faron at Paris-Nice. “I said, ‘If one of us doesn’t come home today with the yellow jersey, we’re both sleeping on the floor,’” said the 33-year-old Julich. They’ll both get a very good sleep thanks to Julich, who surged into the leader’s jersey after holding off late attacks by Spanish rivals Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) and Constantine Zaballa (Saunier Duval) on the upper reaches of Mont Faron. Julich started the
The winds of change blew through Paris-Nice in Thursday’s weather-shortened fourth stage as the peloton traded winter for the mistral. Lance Armstrong packed it in as cold and snow forced organizers to shorten the third stage in a row, but the peloton was back in shorts after the race moved into warmer climes of the Rhone valley. Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) put down a Herculean sprint to beat veteran Jaan Kirsipuu (Credit Agricole) against a strong headwind into Montélimar while Bobby Julich (CSC) surged into contention after sneaking into the winning break late in the 101km
Lance Armstrong has dropped out of Paris-Nice, reportedly suffering from a sore throat and fever. "Lance woke up this morning with a sore throat and with the cold weather, he began to feel worse throughout the day," Discovery Channel director Johan Bruyneel said. "By the time we got back to the hotel, he was running a fever and we thought it best that he should withdraw and go home," he added. Armstrong had ridden an undistinguished race, finishing 99th on Wednesday’s stage, the second consecutive stage of the so-called "Race to the Sun" to be shortened in response to wintry temperatures
In what was great weather to go skiing in central France on Wednesday, the Paris-Nice bicycle stage doggedly pushed on despite frigid temperatures and snowy roads that forced organizers to shorten a stage for the second straight day. With snow piled four-feet deep alongside the road, race organizers had no choice but to cut the stage from 174km to 118km and eliminate the highest, snow-covered reaches of the course. Despite an early breakaway that included Floyd Landis (Phonak) and defending champion Jörg Jaksche (Liberty Seguros), the sprinters once again drove it home. Vicente Reynes (Illes
Belgium's Tom Boonen, of the Quick Step team, on Tuesday won the second stage of the Paris-Nice cycling race, reduced to 45km between Aigueperse and Thiers in central France because of snow. The 24-year-old, who had also won the first stage, earned the leader's jersey because of the bonus points he picked up. The Belgian rider finished several lengths ahead of Norway's Kurt-Asle Arvesen and Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych. While Boonen said it had been a good try out for the Milan-San Remo classic later this month he added that taking the overall lead did not put him in pole
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) won stage 1 of Paris-Nice on Monday, sprinting to victory ahead of a peloton that had been cracked into thirds by a pair of crashes in the final kilometers. Chilly weather, with temperatures barely above freezing, greeted the Race to the Sun as the peloton set off on the 186.5km stage, a relatively flat affair from the Parisian suburb of Etampes south to Chabris, with only the very small Category 3 Cote de Graviers at 10km to stretch the legs. American Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon) took the first intermediate sprint at 42km, edging Rabobank's Erik Dekker and
Jens Voigt (CSC) ripped the short, 4km prologue Sunday to win the Paris-Nice opener and earned the distinction of being the first winner on cycling’s new ProTour while six-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong played it safe 27 seconds slower. Voigt was the hottest thing going on a sunny, but cold day in the Parisian suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux to kick off the season-long ProTour series with the 63rd Paris-Nice. The concise course featured a short punchy climb to start and some tight corners, but it was the on-form Voigt who delivered the winning ride of 5 minutes, 15 seconds. Tour
Saturday’s EuroFile: Armstrong, ProTour set for debut at Paris-Nice; Sacchi wins Milan-Turin; second Flanders stage canceled
Six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong opens his 2005 campaign in Paris-Nice on Sunday when professional cycling enters a new era – that of the 20-team, 27-race ProTour. This will be Armstrong's first start in Paris-Nice since 1999, when he used the race as a training run on the way to returning to Paris in July as winner of his first Tour. He finished second to Laurent Jalabert in 1996 when riding for Motorola and won a stage in 1995. Armstrong’s Discovery Channel line-up includes Viatcheslav Ekimov, Yaroslav Popovych and Paolo Savoldelli, the 2002 Giro d'Italia winner, who
CSC team manager Bjarne Riis was credited as the master tactician of this year’s edition of Paris-Nice as his team took three of the top four spots in the final overall standings after Sunday’s eighth and final stage was won by T-Mobile's Alexander Vinokourov. The 27-year-old Jaksche, from Germany, took control of the race on the opening day's time trial and retained the leader's yellow jersey throughout mainly thanks to his team's support and wily tactics. CSC also had American Bobby Julich finish third and German Jens Voigt take fourth place. It is the second major win of the season for
Alexander Vinokourov (T-Mobile), winner at Paris-Nice for the last two years, clinched his second win of the 2004 race with a fine solo effort in the seventh stage on Saturday. The 30-year-old from Kazakhstan broke away on the seafront of Cannes, 6km from the finish of the 185.5km stage from Dignes-les-Bains to Cannes, chased down Spaniard Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) – who had attacked at the summit of the Col du Tanneron, the last of the day's climbs, 20km from the finish – and brought the victory home in style, 18 seconds ahead of Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo).
A cagey Denis Menchov (Illes Baleares) held his fire until the final kilometers, then took his best shot, chasing down and outsprinting a three-man breakaway on the Col de Manse to claim the 173.5km sixth stage of Paris-Nice race from Rasteau to Gap on Friday. The threesome of Spaniard Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), American Floyd Landis (U.S. Postal) and Belgian Dave Bruylandts (Chocolade Jacques) had surged ahead on the final climb, some 10km from the line. But Menchov leapt from the first chase group to join the trio, then pipped them at the finish in a four-up dash to the line.
Two-time defending champion Alexandre Vinokourov dedicated his win in the 215km fifth stage of Paris-Nice to his friend Andrei Kivilev who was killed in last year's event. "It's fantastic. I wanted to win for him," said the 30-year-old Kazakh rider of the stage he was determined to win in memory of compatriot Kivilev, who died after a fall on March 11, 2003. Winner of the last two editions of Paris-Nice, Vinokourov missed a key break on Monday and now sits more than five minutes down in the overall standings. But on Thursday, Vinokourov managed to join a key CSC-driven break that resembled