Stage 6: Toulon to Cannes 194.5 km
On the roads to the beautiful coastal city of Cannes, the riders in this
year's Paris-Nice experienced more ups and downs than an amorous rabbit in
springtime. To make the undulating course even more challenging, the rain came
down in full force putting the sog on the morale of everyone who isn't in form
and healthy. By the end of the day thirty-five riders would abandon, including
such big names as Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo), David Moncoutie (Cofidis), and Max
van Heeswijk (US Postal), in addition to sprinters like Robbie McEwen
(Lotto-Domo) and Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole). Truly, those feeling slightly
weak or ill or out of their element felt absolutely no desire to push through
today, the penultimate day of a very demanding Paris-Nice.
The good news for Americans is that Tyler "Superball" Hamilton (CSC), after "exploding"
on the final climb of Stage 2, went out on a long solo escapade through the
toughest climbs on today's course. The attack came only 50 km into the race, and despite the fact that "Superball" Hamilton hit the deck again, he bounced back and racked up 28 points in the King of
the Mountains competition after starting the day with none. This was enough to
put him in the lead of that competition by the end of the day as he catapulted
ahead of Jerome Pineau (Brioches La Boulangere) into the Polka-Dot Jersey.
leading the race for over 100 km and accumulating a pile of mountain points, Hamilton was swept up
before the final climb of the day, the Cat 2 Col-du-Tanneron. He eventually
finished in 70th place, 17' 17" behind the leaders, but he felt good about
his legs and his new Jersey headed into the final day: after donning the Polka-Dot Jersey, he commented, "I did not think much of my winning chances but it was a positive surprise that I was able to stay in front for so long. Despite the crash, it was a good test which I was very happy with." Hamilton seems to have
learned a lot last year while riding for CSC next to two-time Tour de France King of the Mountains
winner Laurent Jalabert…this is exactly the kind of attack JaJa would have
launched. (For the official CSC report of the race, click here).
Meanwhile, back in the peloton, race leader Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom)
was isolated. With his team weakened by illness and injury, he was in for a very
long day. Interestingly, when he seemed most isolated in the mountains with no
teammates left, the remaining riders on the Cofidis squad came to his aid to
help chase down the breakaways. With their team leader Moncoutie out of the
race, the Cofidis boys clearly decided to help the close friend of their fallen
teammate Kivilev. Their strong pull on the front helped bring the race back
together headed up the Col-du-Tanneron with 30 km left.
Up the Col-du-Tanneron, Vinokourov bided his time while rider after rider
went on the attack. Curiously, the two closest men to him on GC—David Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
and Mikel Zarrabeitia (ONCE-Eroski) - didn't attack Vinokourov when he was all
alone. Towards the top of the climb Vino put the hammer down, closing the gap to
the men who had escaped and bringing the lead group largely back together on the
early part of the descent. It looks like Rebellin and Zarrabeitia are both
waiting for tomorrow's brutal stage to finally make their move.
The descent of the Col-du-Tanneron was tricky: the roads were narrow and
twisty, the road surface was marginal, and the rain made the cornering very
treacherous. A few men were still off the front over the top, including David
Latasa (Kelme-Costa Blanca). Latasa took the opportunity to absolutely bomb the
descent, getting a gap on his fellow breakaways and providing some absolutely
riveting images. The most dangerous move on the descent, however, was made by
the brilliant young Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulangere);
Chavanel began the day wearing the Blue Jersey for Best Young Rider, and was in
7th on GC at 1' 47". He launched from the peloton over the top of the climb and
quickly bridged the gap to the few men off the front. Vinokourov, Rebellin, and
Zarrabeitia led the peloton in the rapid pursuit of the Frenchman down the
At the bottom of the descent there were two groups at the front of the race.
In the lead was five-man group that included Chavanel, Latasa, Joaquim Rodriguez
(ONCE-Eroski), Laurent Brochard (AG2r), and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
The remnants of the peloton were about 30" back, with the Milaneza-MSS squad
leading the chase. Chavanel's attack threatened the position of Milaneza's Claus
Moller, so the five remaining Steel Pasta Men made a double-pace line to bring
back the break. Over the final flat 15km to Cannes, the sun came out to
highlight the fierce chase to the finish.
This battle for the lower placings played to the favor of Vinokourov,
Rebellin, and Zarrabeitia, who just had to sit on and ride through to the
finish. The Milaneza men closed the gap some, but the five-man breakaway stayed
clear to contest the final sprint. In the final kilometer Brochard launched two
vicious attacks, the last of which looked good enough to win. However, Brochard
misjudged the finish by about 100 meters, as he came out of the final corner in
the lead but faded just before the line. Rodriguez, who had been a passenger in
the breakaway, had the freshest legs and came around Brochard for a very big
win. Latasa came through in second, and Brochard held on for third. Chavanel
crossed in 4th, but more importantly his group took 21" out of the hard-chasing
peloton. This was enough to move Chavanel from 7th to 5th on GC, 1' 24" behind
The top four positions on GC remained unchanged at the end of the day. The
only other movement on the leader board came from Sanchez, who crossed the line
in 5th place. The 21" he picked up moved him from 10th to 8th, just ahead of
David Bernabeu of Milaneza. The Milaneza men will be upset that their two
leaders each slipped a place today, but they continue to play a major role in
the race, something that will surely not be lost on the Tour selection
Tomorrow's stage is a monster, as the riders will ride a circuit around Nice that will take in two Cat 2 and three Cat 1 climbs before a downhill run-in to the finish line. With such a brutal course, the entire race could be blown to pieces and the leaderboard completely reshuffled. Tune in tomorrow to see if Hamilton can take home the polka-dots and
Vinokourov can take home the yellow.
Stage 6 Results
1 Rodriguez Joaquim ESP ONE 5h 02' 01"
2 Latasa David ESP KEL 00' 00"
3 Brochard Laurent FRA A2R 00' 00"
4 Chavanel Sylvain FRA BLB 00' 00"
5 Sanchez Samuel ESP EUS 00' 00"
6 Kirchen Kim LUX FAS 00' 21"
7 Hoj Frank DEN FAK 00' 21"
8 Arvesen Kurt-Asle NOR FAK 00' 21"
9 Virenque Richard FRA QSD 00' 21"
10 Camenzind Oscar SUI PHO 00' 21"
11 Silloniz Josu ESP EUS 00' 21"
12 Castresana Angel ESP ONE 00' 21"
13 Van De Wouwer Kurt BEL QSD 00' 21"
14 Rebellin Davide ITA GST 00' 21"
15 Pereiro Sio Oscar ESP PHO 00' 21"
16 Botcharov Alexandre RUS A2R 00' 21"
17 Gonzalez Gorka ESP EUS 00' 21"
18 Velo Marco ITA FAS 00' 21"
19 Moller Claus Michael DEN MIL 00' 21"
20 Vinokourov Alexandre KAZ TEL 00' 21"
21 Beneteau Walter FRA BLB 00' 21"
22 Pineau Jérôme FRA BLB 00' 21"
23 Rous Didier FRA BLB 00' 21"
24 Fragniere Cédric SUI C.A 00' 21"
25 Bouyer Franck FRA BLB 00' 21"
26 Parra Ivan COL KEL 00' 21"
27 Jaksche Jorg GER ONE 00' 21"
39 Simoni Gilberto ITA SAE 00' 21"
42 Boonen Tom BEL QSD 04' 09"
50 Cooke Baden AUS FDJ 04' 09"
51 Vandenbroucke Franck BEL QSD 04' 09"
54 Mattan Nico BEL COF 07' 51"
57 Cancellara Fabian SUI FAS 07' 51"
67 Casar Sandy FRA FDJ 16' 15"
70 Hamilton Tyler USA CSC 17' 17"
86 Jalabert Nicolas FRA CSC 18' 25"
116 Hondo Danilo GER TEL 35' 17"
117 Aerts Mario BEL TEL 35' 17"
118 Julich Bobby USA TEL 35' 17"
Seigneur Eddy FRA DEL Abandon
Martin Ludovic FRA DEL Abandon
Krivtsov Yuriy UKR DEL Abandon
Turpin Ludovic FRA A2R Abandon
Van Dijk Stefan NED LOT Abandon
Mc Ewen Robbie AUS LOT Abandon
Brandt Christophe BEL LOT Abandon
Merckx Axel BEL LOT Abandon
Morin Anthony FRA C.A Abandon
Jenner Christopher NZL C.A Abandon
O'Grady Stuart AUS C.A Abandon
Martinez Miguel FRA PHO Abandon
Schmidt Torsten GER GST Abandon
Ordowski Volker GER GST Abandon
White Matthew AUS USP Abandon
Van Heeswijk Max NED USP Abandon
Moncoutie David FRA COF Abandon
Ludewig Jorg GER SAE Abandon
Galletti Alessio ITA SAE Abandon
Celestino Mirko ITA SAE Abandon
Bonomi Giosuè ITA SAE Abandon
Rodriguez Alexis ESP KEL Abandon
Kashechkin Andrey KAZ QSD Abandon
Clerc Aurélien SUI QSD Abandon
Vogondy Nicolas FRA FDJ Abandon
Pichon Mickael FRA FDJ Abandon
Petersen Jorgen Bo DEN FAK Abandon
Petacchi Alessandro ITA FAS Non Partant
Wilson Matthew AUS FDJ Non Partant
General Classification after Stage 6
1 Vinokourov Alexandre KAZ TEL 19h 28' 32"
2 Zarrabeitia Mikel ESP ONE 00' 43"
3 Rebellin Davide ITA GST 00' 54"
4 Jaksche Jorg GER ONE 00' 55"
5 Chavanel Sylvain FRA BLB 01' 24"
6 Moller Claus Michael DEN MIL 01' 30"
7 Gustov Volodomir UKR FAS 01' 41"
8 Sanchez Samuel ESP EUS 01' 48"
9 Bernabeu David ESP MIL 01' 51"
10 Pereiro Sio Oscar ESP PHO 02' 04"
11 Simoni Gilberto ITA SAE 02' 19"
12 Arvesen Kurt-Asle NOR FAK 02' 22"
13 Serrano Marcos ESP ONE 02' 34"
14 Rous Didier FRA BLB 02' 40"
15 Kirchen Kim LUX FAS 02' 45"
16 Botcharov Alexandre RUS A2R 02' 45"
17 Parra Ivan COL KEL 02' 48"
18 Latasa David ESP KEL 02' 49"
19 Van De Wouwer Kurt BEL QSD 02' 53"
20 Fragniere Cédric SUI C.A 02' 54"
King of the Mountains after Stage 6
1 Hamilton Tyler USA CSC 28 pts
2 Pineau Jérôme FRA BLB 25 pts
3 Vinokourov Alexandre KAZ TEL 17 pts
4 Vandenbroucke Franck BEL QSD 17 pts
5 Cardoso Pedro POR MIL 14 pts
Best Young Rider after Stage 6
1 Chavanel Sylvain FRA BLB 19h 29' 56"
2 Sanchez Samuel ESP EUS 00' 24"
3 Kirchen Kim LUX FAS 01' 21"
4 Rodriguez Joaquim ESP ONE 02' 15"
5 Pineau Jérôme FRA BLB 03' 32"
Teams Rankings after Stage 6
1 ONCE - Eroski ONE 58h 28' 17"
2 Fassa Bortolo FAS 03' 15"
3 Milaneza - MSS MIL 04' 27"
4 Brioches La Boulangere BLB 05' 36"
5 Phonak Hearing Systems PHO 07' 29"
6 Euskaltel - Euskadi EUS 10' 16"
7 Team Fakta FAK 13' 01"
8 Kelme - Costa Blanca KEL 15' 21"
9 Quick Step - Davitamon QSD 16' 23"
10 Jean Delatour DEL 24' 54"
11 Credit Agricole C.A 29' 23"
12 Gerolsteiner GST 30' 03"
13 AG2R Prevoyance A2R 37' 16"
14 FdJeux.Com FDJ 40' 29"
15 Saeco - Longoni Sport SAE 44' 24"
16 Cofidis Credit Par Telephone COF 49' 52"
17 Team Telekom TEL 1h 01' 15"
18 Team CSC CSC 1h 02' 23"
19 US Postal - Berry Floor USP 1h 06' 08"
20 Lotto - Domo LOT 1h 29' 34"