Good morning/afternoon/evening/night wherever you are, and welcome to our live
coverage of stage four in the 65th Paris-Nice. Today's comparatively short but
extremely demanding leg covers 169.5 km. between Maurs-la-Jolie and Mende.
With four second category ascents - two coming in the early kilometres,
another slightly before the halfway point and the last one quite close to the
finish - on the menu, plus
the 3.1-km ascent to the summit finish line,
with the average gradient around 10%, we can say this is one of the crucial
stages - if not the key stage at all - of the whole race. Mende hosts a "race
to the sun" stage finish for the first time, but today's finish is very
similar to one in the 1995 Tour de France, when Laurent Jalabert emerge as
winner of the day, such that the Croix Neuve climb was also renamed "Montée
The stage map is available
here and the
altimetry can be found
in this link.
The action got underway around 1130AM local time (CET). Small skirmishes
came in the early kilometres, with Gorka Verdugo (Spa - Euskaltel) ahead of
David Loosli (Swi - Lampre) and Yohann Leboulanger (Fra - Bouygues Telecom) at
the summit of the Côte de Quotidiane, about half an hour into the stage. It
took a few more minutes for Sandy Casar (FDJ) to make the first serious move
of the day. The man from Paris was soon joined by another French (Amaël
Moinard of Cofidis) and the pair became a more solid trio as the Kazakh
Dimitriy Muravyev (Astana. What else?) joined them around km. 23.
The three-strong breakaway group gained up to eleven minutes over the field
by km 73., and in the meantime Sandy Casar won the KOM Prime at Côte de
Montsalvy (km. 33) as well as the Espalion Hot Spot Sprint (km. 70), at the
foot of the third difficulty to be tackled, the Côte de Biournac, where Amaël
Moinard took his revenge with the FDJ rider in third place only.
Casar was also the best-placed overall member of the lead group, trailing
yellow-jerseyed Franco Pellizotti (Ita - Liquigas) by 33 seconds at the stage
start, with both Moinard and Muravyey a further six seconds back on the GC,
and consequently conquered the status of virtual overall leader on the road.
Which was put in serious jeopardy as the peloton reacted and put in some good
chasing effort, that cut the gap to Casar, Muravyey and Moinard down to 06'20"
at the feeding zone (Coussergues - km 94.5/75k to go).
14:30 CET D. Muravyev (Astana), Sandy
Casar (FDJ) and Amael Moinard (Cofidis) in the lead. 61 km to go Discovery is
leading the pace, their team leader Alberto Contador has to see to get 19
seconds back which he lost in the 2nd stage won by Pellizotti/ The maximum
lead of the three riders was 11 minutes, they have still 6.16 with 60 km to
go. The finish of today's stage is in Mende after a tough climb.
Bouygues Telecom, Liquigas and Caisse D'Epargne have put 1 or 2 riders in
front of the bunch to help the Disco's in the chase Saunier Duval also
in front of the bunch, David Millar has said he wants to do well in the GC. So
he is certainly a man to watch, the pace is very high now and there are
already some riders with problems.
14:37 CET - The lead is down to 6.00
with 54 km to go. The riders still have to do 2 climbs. A climb of the 2nd
category and the final climb to of the 1st category Mende
14:40 CET - Thierry Marichal (La FDJ)
didn't start today. Today the Belgium government opened a old doping case
around former top sprinter Abdousjaparov. Other riders who where named in this
case are Peter Farazijn (already stopped) and Marichal. He didn't start due to
motivation problems The case is from 1997, Abdou tested positive in the
Tour de France of that year and today they announced that they have sued 19
people in this case, which is already 10 years old
14:43 CET - 49 km to go. The gap is
down to 5.30 on the trio of escapees. Vaitkus and White leading the bunch now
ahead of the Bouygues riders and the rest of the Disco squad.
14:50 CET - The gap is down to 5:10
with about 40 km to go as the Disco lads lead the chase eating seconds off the
clock with each km. If the riders continue at this rate they should finish at
Riders to watch in this stage are: race leader Pellizotti, Millar,
Rebellin, Chavanel, S. Sanchez, Valjavec, J. Rodriguez, Paxti Vila (second on
G.C. last year), Sinkewitz, Leipheimer, Contador, Schleck, Lövkvist and
probably some others as well who have G.C. hopes.
14:57 CET - The 2 final climbs of
today's stage are in the final 15 km of the stage which will be decisive in
the final outcome of the stage... until then the effort will be for the
peloton to try to reduce the gap to our three attackers before the final
climbs. Casar, Muravyev and Moinard are still working well together. The gap
is still 4.08
15:00 CET - In the overall ranking;
Casar is 48th at 33 sec, Moinard 70th at 38 sec and Muravyev 72th at 38 sec.
the trio are riding a determined pace and showing no sign of cracking; but
slowly as the other teams join in the chase gap is steadily reducing.
15:10 CET - 25 km to go. The gap is
down to 3.20 while Vaitkus still leads the peloton. Vaitkus has had a good
season start so far, OK he didn't win anything but was strong in the Algarve
and finished 3rd in the final ranking at 22 sec from overall winner Petacchi.
15:15 CET - In the list of stage
favorites I forgot the youngest rider in the bunch and current maillot blanc;
Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas). He is still 4th in the ranking and has good
climbing skills. In the Mont Faron stage in the Tour of Mediteraneen he was
8th. The Faron climb you can compares to the Mende, but Mende is a bit
tougher. At the back of affairs Kreuziger's team mate Alessandro Vanotti
(Liquigas) has abandoned the race.
15:26 CET - 15 km to go... the climbs
begin in approximately 7 kms. The leaders have been in the wind for
about 100 km in at this point.. On paper Casar is the best climber but the gap
is down to 2.40 now. with 15 km to go as the head of the bunch changes
drumming for position, everyone wants to sit there but there is of
course too little space for everyone.
15:27 CET - 13 km to go - gap
down to 1.55. The climbing of the cat 2 climb have begun. Discovery Channel is
increasing the pace now, the firework can begin Discovery is increasing the
pace now, the firework can begin! M. Zberg dropped out the back of the
bunch, but he is not the only one.
10 km to go - 1.30 the gap The
gruppetto has formed already.
15:34 CET - The gap falls to 1.15 under
the pressure of Paulinho and Popovych leading the bunch now for Contador and
Haussler, Steegmans, Righi, Klostergaard dropped out of the lead bunch too.
7.5 km to go.. Muravyev has problems in front to following the pace and
15:37 CET - Gap down to 45 seconds as
Astarloa, Kolobnev, Lorenzetto, Irizar feel the pressure and are dropped off
the back. Casar takes the KOM points on the cat 2 climb ahead of Moinard;
now a short descent and than the final climb of the Mende.
Muravyev is caught by the bunch, but he collected 3rd on the KOM. With 5 km
to go the gap to the break is 40 seconds as they defy capture.
15:42 CET - They are on the final climb
to Mende now.Let the battle for the stage begin, and perhaps the maillot jaune.
2.9 km to go
Astana in the move with Iglinskiy I suppose.. 2.5 km to go
2 km to go Casar and Moinard are caught in spite of a grand final
effort for the victory. Valjavec attacks, Rebellin follows. Evans is coming as
well. 5 other riders chasing: Contador catches Valjavec and Rebellin, Schleck
joins the quartet we have 4 leaders hammering up the Mende.
1 km to go - Pellizotti in the bunch
and has some problems responding. Now 5 leaders as David Lopez comes back to
the lead group.
Attack of Contador, nobody can follow!!
Rebellin in the chase, it looks like he is closing the gap; Evans,
Valjavec, Lopez and Schleck is the first chasing group behind Contador and
Rebellin. 300 meters to go....
Contador wins the stage ahead of Rebellin at 1 sec, Lopez 3rd, Evans 4th,
Valjavec 5th, Schleck 6th, Joly 7th, Leipheimer was 8th, Lövkvist 9th and
Pellizotti 10th. Sammy Sanchez finishes in 11th.
Rebellin is the new race leader and will slip into the maillot jaune in a
few minutes with 6 seconds lead. Pelizotti comes in 40 seconds down from
Stage 4 Results (Provisional)
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel
2 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
3 David López García (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
5 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Lampre-Fondital
6 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
7 Sébastien Joly (Fra) Française Des Jeux
8 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel
9 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Française Des Jeux
10 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
General Classification (Provisional)
1. Davide Rebellin,
2. Alberto Contador at 6 sec,
3. Tadej Valjavec at 23 sec,
4. Franco Pellizotti
5 Sébastien Joly,
6. Cadel Evans,
8. Frank Schleck
9. David Lopez,
10. Samuel Sanchez
Daniele Bennati still in the maillot vert of points
leader and Haussler is still KOM leader.
Thanks for joining us...
the Live Report of the 42nd Tirreno-Adriatico Stage Two as Fabio picks up
the action from Civitavecchia to Marsciano.