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Paris Nice Stage 6 Report
By Locutus
Date: 3/15/2003
Paris Nice Stage 6 Report

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.

After 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 mountain.

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 Vinokourov.

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 committee.

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"

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