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65th Paris Nice - Stage 4 Live
By Staff
Date: 3/15/2007
65th Paris Nice - Stage 4 Live

65th Paris Nice - Stage 4 Live
The "queen stage", with four second category ascents followed by the mountain top finish at Mende, on the "Jalabert Climb". All the action is live here, as usual.

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 Laurent Jalabert".

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 16:00.

 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 Leipheimer.

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 is dropped.

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 Contador.

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,
7. Millar
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...

Follow the Live Report of the 42nd Tirreno-Adriatico Stage Two as Fabio picks up the action from Civitavecchia to Marsciano.


Related Articles
65th Paris Nice - Stage 1 Report.
65th Paris Nice - Stage 2 Live Coverage.
65th Paris Nice - Stage 3 Live Coverage

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