Saturday, March 14, 2009

Paris - Nice Stages 5 - 7

Stage 5
Young Jérémy Roy of Française Des Jeux des Jeux took his first professional win in a stage that was well controlled by Sylvain Chavanel's Quick Step Team; no change to the top of the leaderboard.

Stage 6

Alberto Contador (Astana) at last showed the kind of form that won him the Tour de France in 2007. 5km from the top of the climb to the difficult mountain top finish he attacked his remaining companions, Luis León Sánchez and Fränk Schleck, and took nearly a minute off them before the finish. Chavanel lost almost two minutes, and Contador took the yellow jersey back in an emphatic show of his climbing prowess.

Stage 7

Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) attacked with 20km to go, and soon opened a gap of 25 seconds. Contador was left to do much of the chasing alone, and found him isolated from his team and he chased hard with Colom, Sánchez  and Schleck in tow. Sánchez rode hard and managed to open the gap on his chasers to over 50 seconds when Colom attacked, with leass than 5km to go. Sánchez and Schleck followed, but Contador was left stranded; the long chase have depleted his energy levels. It was a sad sight to see the yellow jersey being caught and left for dead by the peleton up the final drag to the finish, but I'm sure Sánchez was revelling in his compatriot's misfortune, as he finished 50 seconds clear of the Colom and Schleck, and took an incredible 2:53 out of the yellow jersey. Contador was visibly distressed after he crossed the line and was quickly attended to by his team soigneur.

With only stage 8 to go, it looks like Sánchez's race to lose, but with another tough day and 3 more Cat-1 climbs to go, the strain of today's solo effort might come back to bite!

General classification after stage 7
1 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne             28.05.45
2 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step                             1.09
3 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank                         1.21
4 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana                                 1.50
5 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank                              1.59
6 Antonio Colom (Spa) Team Katusha                           2.16
7 Kevin Seeldrayers (Bel) Quick Step                            2.29
8 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano                            2.57
9 Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBox Bouygues Telecom               3.37
10 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française Des Jeux            4.00