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65th Paris Nice - Stage 5 Live Coverage
By Fabio
Date: 3/16/2007
65th Paris Nice - Stage 5 Live Coverage

65th Paris Nice  - Stage 5 Live Coverage
Three stages to go, and a battle of 178 km. on a tricky undulating parcours on today's menu. Is the yellow mantle currently on Rebellin's shoulders really in jeopardy?

Welcome to the live coverage of the fifth stage in the 2007 Paris-Nice. Friday's effort spans over an undulating parcours of 178 km. from Sorgues to Manosque - that hosts a P-N stage finish for the tenth time - with two second category climbs in the early portion and as many Cat. 3 difficulties coming much nearer to the line, even if not too near. Such that in the end we might have a successful breakaway, or a sprint of a more or less consistent group.

Forty-eight riders belonging to Agritubel, Cofidis, Discovery Channel, Euskaltel, Predictor-Lotto, Rabobank and T-Mobile underwent blood tests early this morning; thankfully all of them were negative and all riders were allowed to take the start, which took place ten minutes before noon local time.

After a first, unexpected stop due to a road accident that occurred nearby, the journey resumed at 12:27, it didn't take longer than nine km. for Johan Van Summeren (Bel - Predictor-Lotto) as well as Nicolas Portal (Fra - Caisse d’Epargne), Ruben Pérez (Spa - Euskaltel-Eusakdi), David Zabriskie (USA - Team CSC), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr - Discovery Channel), Koos Moerenhout (Hol - Rabobank), Bert Grabsch (Ger - T-Mobile), Jurgen Van de Walle (Bel - Quick Step-Innergetic), Hubert Dupont (Fra - AG2R), Markus Zberg (Ger - Gerolsteiner), Nicolas Jalabert (Fra - Agritubel), Igor Abakoumov (Kaz - Astana) and Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra - Liquigas) to attack and make the gap.

Davide Rebellin in yellow. Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

The trio quickly opened a significant advantage on the pack, and Popo was first atop the second category Cat. Col de Mur (km 34), but the breakaway broke in two pieces soon later, with Popovych, Zabriskie, Van Summeren, Grabsch, Van de Walle, Moorenhout and Fischer staying up front. The Ukrainian scored again at the Saint Saturnin les Apt Intermediate Sprint (km 53.5), and by the km. 61 check the seven-strong breakaway had managed to build up a four-minute advantage over the peloton, led by the Gerolsteiner team-mates of yellow jersey holder Davide Rebellin. The second category Cote des Agnels (km 68.5) Bert Grabsch take the win from Fischer, Zabriskie, Van de Walle and Van Summeren.

The gap hovered between four and four and a half minutes in the next kilometres, with Popovych, Zabriskie, Van Summeren, Grabsch, Van de Walle, Moorenhout and Fischer holding onto a margin of 04'15" at the feeding zone, aka halfway point in the stage (Cucuron, km 89.5/88.5k to go). And to 04'05 about five kilometres later.

14:53 CET - Bernhard Kohl's mantle of Austrian National RR Champion mixes up with the "average jerseys" of his Gerosteiner teammates as they drive the chase under the sun on a flat portion of the parcours; the Italian veteran (born in 1971) Davide Rebellin, who burst to the top of the GC as he was runner-up to Alberto Contador in yesterday's queen stage, comfortably sits in ninth wheel.

15:03 CET -  And the seven escapees keep taking regular turns on the front. Now it's Grabsch and Popo leading the breakaway, with Murilo Fischer in seventh place chatting with someone in his team car.

15:08 CET -  The chase gets more dangerous as a couple Lampres join the waterboys on the front of the pack.

15:10 CET - Soon we'll add some updates about the third stage in the 2007 "Race of the two Seas". Today we (better, the riders and the whole Tirreno-Adriatico crew) move eastward from Marsciano (Umbria region of Central Italy) to downtown - so to speak - Macerata (Marche region) over 213 km..

The finish is at the end of the third lap of a final circuit of 23.2 km. The only categorised climb of the day, Passo del Cornello, comes after just 77.7 kilometres, a bit too early for it to prove decisive. Today's two traguardi volanti (Hot Spot Sprints) are situated at Castelraimondo (km. 105.2), and the same Macerata (e.g. at the third passage over the line/start of the last lap - km. 189.8).

The Tirreno stage got underway with Alexander Arekeev in the overall leader's yellow/red jersey, after the Russian notched up his first ever victory in the pro ranks by completing a successful and sensational breakaway of 201 kilometres (basically from the start to finish line of yesterday's stage) The 24-year-old of Acqua & Sapone team leads closest GC threats Daniele Contrini (Tinkoff) and Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner) by 32 and 35 seconds respectively, with stage one winner Robbie McEwen in fifth at 57".

1514 CET -  About 54.5k to go. And more of the same on the gap side of the coin, with the Gero-led field trailing the seven-strong breakaway by 04'05 at the latest, very recent check.  The bunch is at La Bastide-des-Jourdans, or some places like that. 59K to go for them anyway... The breakaway is about three-and-something kilometres (aka four minutes and two seconds) ahead of them.

Those seven riders from seven different teams are still perfectly working well together. Popovych leads the breakaway charge in this moment, on a slightly uphill section. The Gerolsteiner chase machine lost one of their members, as polka-dotted Heinrich Haussler apparently had some kind of mechanical and lost contact to the group. He's now struggling to make his way back into the field.

1522 CET - La-Bastide-des-Jourdans is the name of the town the race crossed minutes ago, and  home to the mid-stage sprint won by Popovych from Van Summeren and Grabsch.

1524 CET - Frontrunners and chasers (with Lampre now leading the chase) alike are taking in the first Cat. 3 climb of the day. The gap is under four minutes.

1522 CET - First updates from TIRRENO-ADRIATICO: we have got one man on a solo effort: Thierry Champion (Bouygues Telecom) broke clear early into the stage, and opened up a maximum advantage of about 14 minutes. The peloton started the chase, and gained a few minutes on the French, even if he's still holding on to a decent margin at the moment.

There was also an(other) pile-up in the Italian race, involving among others also Ivan Basso. The Italian was quickly back in the saddle, and all of his Discovery teammates waited for him and helped him regain the bunch. No major consequences for the 2006 Giro winner.

1529 CET - My apologies: the "rouleur" currently away at T-A is DIMITRY CHAMPION, and NOT Thierry Champion. He was leading the chasing field, led by Arekeev's Acqua & Sapone, by 05'15 at the latest, very recent update.

 1533 CET - Back to PARIS-NICE, with Yaroslav Popovych looking unstoppable today, at least in mid-stage primes. The Ukrainian was just first atop the Cat. 3 Cote de Montfuron (km. 214) too. But the advantage of the seven-man breakaway keeps going down: it just fell to three and a half minutes.

43.48k to go - The Lampremen are now outnumbering their Gero-colleagues on the front of the Chase Armada.

 1538 CET - Tirreno update: solo "fuggitivo" Dimitri Champion completed the Macerata final circuit for the second time. The bell lap has just started: 23k to go for the Bouygues Telecoman, who has been away for 150 km so far. But for how long again? Now there's no comparison between his current pace (sloooow) and the one set by the pack (that's going faaaaaast).

1542 CET - And back in PARIS-NICE land, we see how Lampre completely took over the chase from Gerolsteiner obviously favoring the chances of team mate Tadej Valjavec to take the lead. he's only 23 seconds down on the G.C. in third position.

1543 CET - Latest reports from TIRRENO roads say Ivan Basso and a few others got dropped from the main peloton. Did the small accident Ivan was caught in have a impact on his knee? Or is he just taking it easy in order to avoid excessive and likely self-damaging efforts? In the meantime the advantage of the young "Champion" from the French town of La Rochelle is dropping exponentially.

1545 CET - And so is the advantage of the seven men away at Paris-Nice: 02'49 with 38k to go. We remind you that today's Paris-Nice attackers are: Johan Van Summeren (Bel - Predictor-Lotto), David Zabriskie (USA - Team CSC), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr - Discovery Channel), Koos Moerenhout (Hol - Rabobank), Bert Grabsch (Ger - T-Mobile), Jurgen Van de Walle (Bel - Quick Step-Innergetic) and Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra - Liquigas).

1547 CET - 36.5k to go, And Popovych attacks the break! The Discovery Channel rider from Ukraine gave a first display of his current form in previous mid-stage sprints, and went on by making such latest move. Seemingly a successful one, as Popo gained about 20" on the other (former) frontrunners in a very short time.

1550 CET - Now the gap is 17 seconds, with the peloton 02'51" down on the man.

1551 CET update: Popo leads by 15" and 03'05" respectively with 33 km to go. The peloton slowed down a bit in the past few minutes.

1552 CET - The peloton, currently driven by Quick Step, crossed a bridge at TIRRENO-ADRIATICO: it's just a matter of time before Champion, currently holding a 15-sec advantage, gets swallowed up by the first group. The "Ivan Basso group" trails them by close to two minutes. And such gap is going to grow further.

1554 CET - Popo still away at PARIS-NICE. The Ukrainain added a new mountain prime victory to his daily collection by getting first atop the last Cote of the day.

1555 CET - TIRRENO update: Dimitri Champion stayed clear for 164 km. (aka close to four hours) but was caught by the merciless (first) peloton. It's gruppo compatto in Italy, with about 10k to go. The last part of the stage in Italy is slightly uphill by the way, at least until 400m from the finish. Unlike Ivan Basso, Petacchi is still in the main bunch, and so are O'Grady, Bettini, Freire etc.

1558 CET- 27.5k to go for solo leader Yaroslav Popovych at PARIS-NICE

And things couldn't be more different in Italy, with the TIRRENO stage finish just 7k away, and the group largely together. But they're about to hit the 3-km final ascent there. So wait for the fireworks to start soon. And it looks Paolo Bettini might be a good starter on such a route finish.

1601 CET - An Euskaltel rider just fell at PARIS-NICE, and seemingly sustained severe injuries (either to his fist or collarbone, more details later). His Spanish colleagues of Caisse d'Epargne joined the chase machine on the front of the pack.

1603 CET - 3K to go at TIRRENO. The climb started: the battle is about to break out. And it's Vinokourov that strikes first. Kessler counters his move for QuickStep. More riders rushing to the front. Riccó, Scarponi, Schumacher, Garzelli. Petacchi trying to hold on and not lose contact. Bettini sits in tenth wheel.

2k to go at TIRRENO - Freire gaining places on the front...  Kessler was working for himself. He tried to make the gap but did not succeed. The peloton is still together enough. Even if Petacchi is having a very hard time there/

1607 CET - Now it's Scarponi and Riccò trying to get away with 1.5k to go, on quite steepy roads. Riccardo Ricco attacks, and drops Scarponi by his wheel. He's away. Solo.

1k to go for Saunier Duval's Italian Riccó, leading closest chasers by 50-60 metres. Enrico Gasparotto attacks and starts his own chase of the leader, but Boogerd and Freire are coming too.

1609 cet - 400m to go for Riccó. The climb is over. Will he do it? The Italian keeps a small gap on about 20 riders.
150 m for Riccó, 70m ... 50m ... HE'S DONE IT!! RICCARDO RICCO:(ITA - SAUNIER DUVAL) WINS THE STAGE!! Vinokourov wins the small bunch sprint for second place a few seconds back


1612 CET - And we still have Popovych in the lead on French roads. The Ukrainian even extended his gap to closest chasers (his former breakaway companions) to 01 minute and 25 seconds.

1613 CET - by the way, also Paolo Bettini was involved in a small pile-up at TIRRENO today. The Cricket didn't sustain any real consequences either.

1614 CET - Superpopo is keeping the hard-riding chase bunch at bay in France! His advantage on the Caissedepargne-led pack is up to 03'14". No way the Spaniards leading the chase are going to catch him, we think.  Now a waterboy takes over on the front of the pack and gives the caissedepargner a small break. Pointless effort (again, we think).

 Popovych has collected six bonus seconds at mid-stage sprints, plus he'll be awarded a further ten seconds as (if?) he wins the stage. He has got plenty of chances to move into the overall lead at the end of the stage.

The six "first chasers" were down to four as Van Summeren and Van De Walle lost the wheels of Zabriskie, Grabsch, Moerenhout and Murilo Fischer. The two Beneluxians are about to be swallowed up by the bunch.

1620 CET - The waterboys look determined not to give up the fight over the Maillot Jaune though. they cut the gap to Popo down to under 02'35", as Lotto also joined them in the chase.

Popovych might miss the yellow mantle today, but with two aces like the Ukrainian and Contador, Discovery are likely to give Rebellin a very hard time in the last two stages.

1623 CET - Oh wait, now the peloton is really flyiiiing. They caught "Van & Van", and ... just did the same to David Zabriskie, Koos Moerenhout, Bert Grabsch and Murilo Antonio Fischer. Only Popo is away. But his advantage dropped to 02'15" with 10k to. We still have a race. And a stage. Especially with guys like Horner (and three more Lottos) now driving the chase.

1626 CET - Popovych was 02'21" down on GC at the stage, so even if considering the bonus seconds he won the man is about to lose his status of virtual overall leader on the road.

1628 CET - And Popo did lose such status as his lead fell under two minutes on the last uphill section on the menu. But he keeps ALL of his chances for a WELL-EARNED stage victory.

1628 CET - Two Lottos (one of whom is Mario Aerts) and some guys from Astana and Liquiqas (it must be young sensation Roman Kreuziger) now driving the peloton charge on the descent, as they further brought down the gap to 01'39" with the finish 9.7 km. away. But Yaroslav is NOT giving up at all. He's struggling while coming down a descent, and pushing his 53x11 towards a more than likely (but no more 99.9% sure) victory.

1631 CET - 8 km to go for Popo. His lead was 01'15" a few seconds ago. Efforts sustained so far are taking their tolls on the man, who even mistook one of the latest turns, resulting in some more gains for the pack. Astana, Lotto and Lampre take turns back in the peloton. Also Italy's Corioni of Lampre is doing an excellent job on the chasing side of things.

1633 CET - BUT-POPO-CONTINUES-HIS-MARCH. 5k to go for the Ukrainian. Now his pace is back to high standards. The peloton is 01'09" back as both leader and chasers are still tackling the last downhill portion. Popo can do it! Yes, he's gonna do it!

1635 CET - Slightly over 3k for Popo. The end of the descent is getting nearer. And his losses are now marginal: 01'05" at the last check (2.5 k to go). POPOVYCH IS GOING TO WIN! And Davide Rebellin is going to save his yellow jersey.

1637 CET - Popo displays all of his "grinta" as he goes under the flamme rouge. 1K TO GO.

And 1K for Popo to join Eddie Merckx and many others on the list of stage winners here. The Cannibal was the last one to take line honors as a P-N stage finished into Mende.

1638 CET - 400m for YAROSLAV POPOVYCH!! He's struggling to get to the line, but he does and ...


The Ukrainian clocked a winning time of 04h11'51". And ... Ventoso drove the bunch across the line as he won the sprint for second at 14 seconds!

France's Dumoulin was third, with Spain's Lopez Garcia and France's Pineau filling the other top five spots. Straight after he crossed the line, Francisco Ventoso did nothing to hide his disappointment at missing stage victory by such a narrow margin.
Davide Rebellin maintained the overall leadership of the race, with Popovych's teammate Alberto Contador of Spain six seconds down.

 Popovych gained just about half a minute (bonus seconds included) on the Italian.

1645 CET - So we've got two deserving winners in as many races today: Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr - Discovery Channel) at Paris-Nice, and the Italian Riccardo Riccó (Saunier Duval-Prodir) at Tirreno-Adriatico.

The "red bird" team came close to make the double as their appointed sprinter Francisco Ventoso won the bunch sprint for second in France, but Popo managed to hold off the peloton, no matter how slender his final lead was.

Here's the stage 5 top 20 at Paris-Nice
4h 11:51"-  42.406 km/h
1 046 POPOVYCH Yaroslav DSC UKR
2 167 VENTOSO Francisco SDV ESP 00:14
3 124 DUMOULIN Samuel A2R FRA 00:14

4 013 LOPEZ GARCIA David GCE ESP 00:14
5 146 PINEAU Jérôme BTL FRA 00:14

 Samuel Sanchez, Franco Pellizotti, Davide Rebellin, Joaquin Rodríguez and Tadej Valjavec were today's other top ten finishers.

1654 CET - Popovych got into the winning breakaway as it formed nine kilometres into the stage. First it contained thirteen men, but it was later down to seven. One mountain prime sprint after another, one hot spot sprint after another, the Ukrainian has been showing some great legs thru most of the stage. So it wasn't much of a surprise as he attacked the break 43 km from the line, and he DID make the gap.

And it wasn't much of surprise as he held off the peloton, despite all those chasing efforts from many different top teams and riders: Lotto, Gerolsteiner, Saunier, Lampre, Caisse d'Epargne took turns up front, but in vain. Popo just had the legs today.

1700 CET - And in Italy younger (born in 1983) Riccardo Riccó chose a different way to storm the top of the podium today. No long breakaways, but just a wicked and timely move in the last three (uphill) kilometres. The Saunier boy opened a small gap and saved a few seconds to claim the win ahead of the likes of Freire, Vinokourov. Boogerd, Bettini. And opened his 2007 account on European soil after a very early season victory in some race in Argentina.

Alexander Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden took the other top three spots at Macerata. Russian Alex Arekeev maintained the yellow/red jersey of the race leader. And two more guys made the headlines on Tirreno-Adriatico roads, but for well different reasons.

 First, the French youngster Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom) who broke away solo after just a few kms and stayed clear all by himself for 164 km. He was caught in the last lap of the final circuit.
And later Ivan Basso, one of the guys who fell during today's stage and - according to recent updates - hit his fist! Not exactly what the man needed most, especially after his after-Tour of California knee problems. The extent of his fist injury is still unknown, we'll tell you more as we get more news.

Okay, that's all for today's Paris-Nice ticker, which in fact turned into a "Paris-Nice & Tirreno-Adriatico ticker". Hope you enjoyed the races. See you later for more news and detailed results!

Provisional Results
Stage 5 - Sorgues - Manosque - 178 km
4h 11:51"-  42.406 km/h
1 046 POPOVYCH Yaroslav DSC UKR
2 167 VENTOSO Francisco SDV ESP 00:14
3 124 DUMOULIN Samuel A2R FRA 00:14

4 013 LOPEZ GARCIA David GCE ESP 00:14
5 146 PINEAU Jérôme BTL FRA 00:14

6 021 SANCHEZ Samuel EUS ESP 00:14
7 157 PELLIZOTTI Franco LIQ ITA 00:14
8 131 REBELLIN Davide GST ITA 00:14
9 011 RODRIGUEZ Joaquin GCE ESP 00:14
10 008 VALJAVEC Tadej LAM SLO 00:14
11 031 SCHLECK Frank CSC LUX 00:14
12 148 VOECKLER Thomas BTL FRA 00:14
13 042 CONTADOR Alberto DSC ESP 00:14
14 063 BOTCHAROV Alexandre C.A RUS 00:14
15 001 VILA ERRANDONEA Patxi LAM ESP 00:14

16 071 EVANS Cadel PRL AUS 00:14
17 152 CALCAGNI Patrick LIQ SUI 00:14
18 151 PAOLINI Luca LIQ ITA 00:14
19 095 HAMMOND Roger TMO GBR 00:14
20 161 MILLAR David SDV GBR 00:14

G.C. After Stage 5 (Provisional)
21h 52:39- 42.538 km/h
2 042 CONTADOR Alberto DSC ESP 00:06
3 008 VALJAVEC Tadej LAM SLO 00:23

4 157 PELLIZOTTI Franco LIQ ITA 00:31
5 084 JOLY Sébastien FDJ FRA 00:32
6 071 EVANS Cadel PRL AUS 00:35
7 161 MILLAR David SDV GBR 00:42
8 031 SCHLECK Frank CSC LUX 00:42
9 013 LOPEZ GARCIA David GCE ESP 00:43
10 021 SANCHEZ Samuel EUS ESP 00:46

11 146 PINEAU Jérôme BTL FRA 00:48
12 101 CHAVANEL Sylvain COF FRA 00:49
13 041 LEIPHEIMER Levi DSC USA 00:50
14 086 LÖVKVIST Thomas FDJ SWE 00:51
15 154 KREUZINGER Roman LIQ CZE 00:54
16 018 SANCHEZ Luis-Leon GCE ESP 00:55
17 148 VOECKLER Thomas BTL FRA 00:58
18 011 RODRIGUEZ Joaquin GCE ESP 01:03
19 063 BOTCHAROV Alexandre C.A RUS 01:05
20 001 VILA ERRANDONEA Patxi LAM ESP 01:06
Complete Official Results to follow when available



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