Is 48 seconds enough for Voigt?
Stage 3 Sunday 1 April : Charleville-Charleville-Mézières (8,3 km CLM)
After this mornings tough stage which saw Jens Voigt in dominating form take the race leaders jersey and a 48 second gap, 109 riders made it to the final stage.
Botcharov (Crédit Agricole), Brochard (Bouygues Telecom), Caruso (Lampre-Fondital), Chavanel (Cofidis), Klöden (Astana), Lövkvist (Française des Jeux), Martinez (Agritubel), Schleck (Team CSC), and Valvarde (Caisse d'Epargne) all stood 48 seconds back on Voigt, who provided he still had some energy left in his legs looked odds on to take the Overall.
As expected Danny Pate (USA - TSL) set a good time of 10’24"725, and it was no disgrace that the Americans time was later bettered by one other than Alexandre Vinokourov with 10’12"88.
Former winner of this race, and bronze (or should that be Silver?) Olympian Time trial rider, Bobby Julich then upped the odds with a typical committed ride to move into top slot. This time however did not last long and Sylvain Chavanel moved into pole position.
Valverde confirmed his excellent form with a great ride of 10.03.990, but the afternoon belonged to Swedish sensation Thomas Lovqvist, who schorched round the course to take the stage with a time of 10.01.450.
However none of these times were enough to displace Voigt , who finished comfortably in 12th spot to take his third victory in this race, repeating his 1999 and 2004 victories, the last time anyone did this was Sean Kelly in 1983, 1984 and 1987. .
A Word from the winner
"This is a big deal for me, because growing up Kelly was a big hero of mine. Of course winning is always nice, but this particular race is special to me. It's short but still tough, it carries with it a lot of prestige and it never gets boring," said Voigt after his victory.
The German rider lead with a fairly comfortable margin of 48 seconds ahead of the final stage and no one ever really came close.
"I didn't relax at any point – I gave it everything I had in me, but of course I was more careful in the turns than I would've been if the margin hadn't been that big. And I have to admit that I was a tiny bit tired after being in a break for such a long time this morning," concluded Voigt, who will now be heading for Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco.
Result Stage 3
1. Thomas Lövkvist (SUE, Française des Jeux) 8,3 km en 10'01" (49,7 km/h)
2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP, Caisse d'Epargne) à 3 sec.
3. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA, Cofidis) à 9 sec.
4. Andreas Klöden (ALL, Astana) m.t.
5. Bobby Julich (USA, Team CSC) m.t.
6. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ, Astana) à 11 sec.
7. Jens Voigt (ALL, Team CSC) à 14 sec.
8. Francisco Perez (ESP, Caisse d'Epargne) à 17 sec.
9. Luis-Leon Sanchez (ESP, Caisse d'Epargne) m.t.
10. Peter Velits (SVQ, Team Wiesenhof-Felt) à 22 sec
1. Jens Voigt (ALL, Team CSC) en 6h54'57"
2. Thomas Lövkvist (SUE, Française des Jeux) à 34 sec.
3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP, Caisse d'Epargne) à 37 sec.
4. Andreas Klöden (ALL, Astana) à 43 sec.
5. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA, Cofidis) m.t.
6. José-Alberto Martinez (ESP, Agritubel) à 1'02"
7. Damiano Cunego (ITA, Lampre-Fondital) m.t.
8. Sébastien Joly (FRA, Française des Jeux) à 1'04"
9. Laurent Brochard (FRA, Bouygues Telecom) à 1'06"
10. Frank Schleck (LUX, Team CSC) à 1'16"