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68th Paris-Nice - Stage 7 & Photos
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 3/14/2010
68th Paris-Nice - Stage 7 & Photos

Paris-Nice - Stage 7 & Photos
A day  conclusions and promise - French Celebration in Nice, AmaŽl Moinard  and Thomas Voeckler lead to the finish  as the Spanish Armada dominates the podium in Nice...

Alberto Contador met every challenge of his rivals to win his second Paris-Nice. The 27 year old rider from Madrid once again proved he is man to watch in July taking control on the Col d'Eze and take the final one second time bonus that followed. Contador also led his fellow countrymen and Caisse d'Epargne duo Alejandro Valverde and Luis Leon Sanchez  in a sweep of the 68th Edition podium; and 4 of the top 5 placed riders.

Sanchez took a 2 second time bonus at the first intermediate sprint to leapfrog best young rider Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) to join Valverde and Contador on the podium. Euskaltel/Euskadi's Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez rode a strong race finishing in 5th place at 30 seconds. Fan favorite Jens Voigt of Saxo Bank finished 6th.

28 year old French rider,
 took his best professional win since his start as a stagiare with Cofidis in 2004 taking the two up sprint over Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) at the finish in Nice. The two riders attacked  on the first climb of the day Col de la Porte after 49 km and evaded capture of the group of favorites by a slim margin of three seconds while Moinard put the final polish on his commanding performance as King of the Mountain taking the final 2 summits.

Cofidis' AmaŽl Moinard celebrates his best pro win. Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde led the chasers to the line for third, followed by Ag2r's Nicolas Roche 4th and Moinard's team mate Rein Taaramae filling out the top 5 in the star studded finale in Nice.

The revelation of the race Liquigas' 20 year old Peter Sagan of Slovakia took the first points sprint Plan du Var to take home the Maillot Vert along with two impressive stage wins in his debut. Sagan also impressed finishing 5th in the U25 competition proving he is more than just a sprinter losing 2 minutes of that today after he had secured his green jersey and supported team leader Roman Kreuziger.

Team Liquigas took two jerseys home courtesy of their two youngsters Sagan and the very talented Roman Kreuziger; the rider from MoravskŠ TřebovŠ in the Czech Republic will be 24 years old on May sixth and added the Maillot Blanc and 4th place to his already impressive palmares.

Nicolas Roche who finished 4th today, led his team Ag2r la Mondiale to the top slot in the teams final classification, the 25 year old Irish rider continues to fulfill his promise finishing in 11th place at 1:30.

Frank Schleck leads Alberto Contador and Luis Leon Sanchez Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Stage 7 Nice - Nice 119 km
The final stage of the 2010 Paris-Nice would be no grand parade to a mass sprint finish; the stage was set for a pitched battle between Alberto Contador and his rivals over three category one climbs in the coastal mountains. Only 38 seconds separated 8 leaders of the race for the final podium. It was clear from the start that it was Contador's race to lose; he could not balk as he had last year on the penultimate stage.  

148 riders took the start a break of four reached the 18 km the mark for first intermediate sprint in Le Plan-du-Var where Liquigas' Peter Sagan led to take the max points and 3 second bonus and secure his green jersey; Luis Leon Sanchez followed taking the 2 second bonus to move onto the podium past past Roman Kreuziger; Aleksandr Kuchynski (Liquigas) took the final bonus. The break was absorbed shortly later as another attempt by William Bonnet (Bbox), Jos Van Emden (Rabobank), David Le Lay (Ag2r) and Alexandre Botcharov (Katusha) was quickly tamed and so it went for the next 20 kilometers. as attempts flew off the front with Astana tirelessly closing them down.

Alejandro Valverde attacked at 38 kilometers trying to bridge to Albert Timmer (Skil/Shimano) and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil); what ever chance the two had was soon over as Astana geared up and caught the three.  More attacks followed each proved as succefull as the others until the first climb of the day the Col de la Porte.

French duo Thomas Voeckler a(Bbox) and Amael Moinard (Cofidis) attacked and rode away on the climb going over the summit 35 seconds ahead of Rein Taaramae followed by Vlaverde, Contador and Frank Schleck. Ag2r's Christophe Riblon attacked on the descent attempting to bridge to his compatriots.

Thomas Voeckler and Amael Moinard on the attack   Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti

By the start of the climb of la Turbie Moinard and Voeckler had over two minutes on the peloton with Riblon in the middle at a minute. Riblon was caught on the climb as our escapees went over the summit with Moinard first solidifying his lead for the polka dot jersey lead over his companion Voeckler... 

With 40 km to go the peloton followed over the summit - Mathieu Perget (Caisse), Dmitriy Fofonov (Astana), Cofidis' Leonardo Duque, Katusha's Petrov and Taaramae taking the final points on offer.

Moinard and Voeckler arrived at the start of the final category 1 climb of the Col d'Eze with 25 kilometers and a gap of  1:45. Behind Katusha had come to the front leading the chase on behalf of their leader Joaquim Rodriguez in 7th place and 35 seconds behind Contador it would be the team and riders last ditch effort.

With 17 km to go Rodriguez attacked causing a split in the peloton. Meanwhile at the front of the race Voeckler had dropped Moinard, the Cofidis rider clawed his way back to Voeckler as they went under the red flag one km from the summit.

Alberto Contador responded to Rodriguez's attack catching him with L L Sanchez on his wheel. Over the summit Moinard led Voeckler winning the max points and the climbers jersey .

Contadors attack was eating up the time to the leaders; over the summit he was only 12 seconds behind the French duo with Rodriguez and Valverde in tow, in that order claiming the points. Taaramae and Sanchez followed. Contador stayed on the attack chasing Moinard and Voeckler  to collect the the final one second bonus in the final intermediate sprint 2 km later.

15 riders regrouped on the descent with all the top guns of the race13 km to go, notably Frank Schleck, Jens Voigt, Samuel Sanchez, Christophe Mevel and Roman Kreuziger

JoaquŪm Rodriguez attacked again at 8 knm to go; when the other riders declined to react Contador went on his own to chase the Katusha rider down. The lack of organization favored the French riders on the front of the race as their gap grew to 15 seconds with 5 km to go.

An attack by RadioShack's Janez Brajkovic was joined by Caisse's Luis Leon Sanchez but it was too late as Voeckler and Moinard went under the 1km banner.

Moinard pips Voekler at teh finish.  Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Moinard pipped Voekler for the win. Alejandro Valverde won the sprint of the first chase group of 16 to land on the day's podium and close to 11 seconds to Alberto Contador.

As usual on a final stage; today 49 riders abandoned the race after giving their all for their team leaders.

Alberto celebrates his victory of the 2010 edition of Paris Nice at the finish,.
Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Results Stage 7 Results
 Nice - Nice 119 km

1 Moinard AmaŽl Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne 2:52:09
2 Voeckler Thomas Bbox Bouygues Telecom - 00:00
3 Valverde Alejandro Caisse Díepargne - 00:03
4 Roche Nicolas Ag2r-La Mondiale - 00:03
5 Taaramae Reine Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne - 00:03

6 Rodriguez Joaquim Katusha Team - 00:03
7 Voigt Jens Team Saxo Bank - 00:03
8 Horner Christopher Team Radioshack - 00:03
9 Brajkovic Janez Team Radioshack - 00:03
10 Contador Alberto Astana - 00:03

Sprint points winner 20 year old Peter Sagan climbs alone after being dropped on the final climb. Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti

68th Paris - Nice General Classification (Final)
1 Contador Alberto Astana 28h 35:35
2 Valverde Alejandro Caisse d'Epargne - 00:11
3 Sanchez Luis-Leon Caisse d'Epargne - 00:25

4 Kreuziger Roman Liquigas-Doimo - 00:26
5 Sanchez Samuel Euskaltel - Euskadi - 00:30

6 Voigt Jens Team Saxo Bank - 00:35
7 Rodriguez Joaquim Katusha Team - 00:37

8 Taaramae Reine Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne - 01:07
9 Peraud Jean-Christophe Omega Pharma - Lotto - 01:16
10 Coppel JťrŰme Saur-Sojasun - 01:17

68th Paris-Nice 2010
    March 7 - 14

Paris - Nice Preview & Start List
Prologue:  Montfort-l'Amaury  ITT 8 km
Stage 1: Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines - Contres  201.5 km
Stage 2: Contres - Limoges  201 km
Stage 3: Yrieix-la-Perche - Aurillac 155 km *
Stage 3  Results & General Classification -Photos
Stage 4: Maurs - Mende  173.5 km
Stage 4: Results & General Classifications  - Photos
Stage 5: Pernes-les-Fontaines - Aix-en-Provence  157 km
Stage 5  Results & General Classification -Photos
Stage 6:  Peynie to Tourrettes-sur-Loup 220 km
Stage 6: Results & General Classifications - Photos
Stage 7:  Nice - Nice; 119 km
Stage 7: Results & Final General Classifications -Photos
Total distance: 1,233 km
* shortened by 55 km due to weather

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