Welcome to live coverage of Paris-Nice!
Today in the 3rd Stage, the riders face a long 229km slog southeast from La Chapelle St.-Ursin to Roanne. Late in the stage there are two Cat 3 climbs (they crest at 166.5 and 183km) before the roll downhill to Roanne.
Look for some of the men who got shelled yesterday by CSC's hard attack in the wind to take their chances on a breakaway. If the peloton is still together by the climbs, look for some hard attacks to come then.
229km is an awful long stage for the riders this early in the season. It will be interesting to see how the race develops today.
Yesterday, I said that Alex Zuelle (Phonak) was in that lead group, but that wasn't accurate. As podofdonny pointed out in the post-race report, it was Zuelle's teammate Oscar Pereiro who was in the group. He's having a great race.
Pereiro is currently in 6th on GC, and a threat for the podium at the end of the race.
Yesterday, George Hincapie (US Postal-Berry Floor) jumped in and helped the CSC men put the hammer down when they attacked the peloton. Postal had several men in the split, so even though their best GC man Landis missed it, they clearly had enough men to make them want the split to succeed.
45km left. Today, two men are off the front. Thomas Ziegler (Gerolsteiner) and Leon Van Bon (Lotto) had a lead of over 14', but they are now crawling uphill as the peloton closes in.
41km left. The lead of the two breakaways is only 6' 30" now. The chase is on as the peloton roll up the climb with Liberty Seguros on the front leading the chase.
Manolo Saiz clearly has some good reason for putting three of his boys on the front. Jorg "JoJo" Jaksche is in his Yellow and White Jersey just behind them.
The Liberty Seguros kits are pretty nice. They've gone to a blue that is not far off from Postal's blue, but the arms and legs are lighter.
The riders are all in their long sleeves and leggings. They look to be rosy-cheeked and a tad chilly.
Yesterday, there were actually a couple of pretty good sprinters in that group that finished first: Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Davitamon).
Boonen flatted near the finish, and wasn't able to contest the sprint, so his teammate Horrillo was free to ride for himself, taking the stage with an attack in the final kilometer.
Hushovd wouldn't have caught Horrillo, but when he went to sprint for the line his foot popped out of the clip. Bummer.
The two breakaways, Van Bon and Ziegler, are now riding through snow! It's not snowing, but the sides of the road are white with the chilly stuff. So it's very cold out there today.
Bobby Julich (CSC) is now third in line in the peloton, guiding Jaksche behind the Liberty Seguros men as they pound up the climb past the snow-covered trees and landscape. Brrrr...makes me cold just looking at it.
As you can imagine, there aren't a lot of fans lining the roads on this climb... maybe someone in a Santa suit will be hopping up and down near the summit?
Isidro Nozal (Liberty Seguros) is on the front of the peloton. The lead is now down to 3' under the pressure of Manolo Saiz' boys. Van Bon and Ziegler look like they're ready for hot chocolate and a sauna massage at this point.
The peloton is now descending. It looks like the peloton is still all together with the exception of the two men off the front.
The roads look tricky on this descent. The road is a bit wet with melted snow at a few places. Liberty Seguros must be thinking of setting up Allan Davis, their young Aussie sprinter who is in form and riding well right now.
35km left. Davis won the Trofeo Manacor and the Trofeo Mallorca earlier this year. Manolo Saiz must think Davis can take the other sprinters today, as his men are taking turns with the Quickstep-Davitamon men on the front of the pack.
The snow is still pretty thick on the sides of the road. A couple of well-muffled and daring fans cheer at the side of the road... now those are some real fans!
The peloton is all strung out under the pressure from Liberty Seguros and now Quickstep. They are going uphill again, though the categorized climbs are behind them. Life is getting rough at the back of the pack as men struggle to keep pace. A number of men have shaken loose.
Robbie McEwen's Lotto boys are getting a free ride due to their man Van Bon being up the road. McEwen is likely thinking that he's the best Aussie sprinter in the race... it will be interesting to see him and Davis go at it if it comes down to a (very likely) sprint today.
30km left. Credit Agricole is now lending a hand with the chase. That makes three teams that are really just hammering on the front of the pack. The peloton is strung out, though there are still a lot of men in it.
Van Bon and Ziegler's lead is down to 2' 20". They keep turning the pedals, having broken away after only 31km... on a 229km stage, that's a long time off the front.
Well, the riders appear to have finally gotten over that uncategorized climb and are now flying downhill towards the finish. The roads don't look nearly as black and wet now. Credit Agricole has two men on the front, leading the chase to give their sprinter Hushovd a shot today.
22km left. Credit Agricole, Liberty Seguros, Quickstep-Davitamon, and CSC are all massed on or near the front. Up ahead, Van Bon gets a gap for a moment on Ziegler, but now they're together again.
Richard Virenque shows himself at the front of the pack, driving the chase for Boonen. The gap keeps coming down, now under 2' to the lead duo.
16km left. Van Bon tried to ditch Ziegler on a roundabout, but it doesn't work. Ziegler is sucking a little wheel now, and Van Bon doesn't like it.
The peloton now slows down through the roundabout, taking it easy a bit as they roll through on both sides.
Ziegler is now taking a long pull, working together with Van Bon quite well again. 1:41 advantage for the two.
Men are now jockeying for position near the front of the peloton, which is still controlled by Liberty Seguros and Quickstep.
Phonak and FDJeux.com riders are now pulling their sprinters into position near the front. Meanwhile, a small group of riders is about 30" behind the peloton... they must have come off on the climbs.
The split is now 1' 10" between the two leaders and the chasing peloton.
The team cars have been pulled from the gap between the group chasing the main peloton, and the peloton itself. This would be a very bad time for someone in the peloton to get a flat.
7.5km left. Van Bon and Ziegler still have a 1' 05" lead! The peloton is chasing like crazy, but the two leaders are holding them off.
Now that they are in the roundabouts of the city, the two leaders have the advantage.
Quickstep and Liberty Seguros are driving the peloton like crazy now, desperate to bring it together for a sprint.
4km left. Ziegler and Van Bon go through another roundabout, working well together. The peloton appears to be slowing a bit going through the roundabouts. This break has a chance! It looked doomed with 30km left, but now...
The impetus has gone out of the peloton! It is no longer strung out, and the chase is over! The break will succeed, so it's now a duel between Van Bon and Ziegler for the win.
Final kilometer. Ziegler is in the lead. Van Bon is in the perfect position.
Ziegler is looking over his shoulder. They're playing games now, knowing they're going to make it.
Ziegler is going up the left...Van Bon jumps to the right, and Ziegler comes around him on the right, but Van Bon takes it!
Boonen easily takes the field sprint for third, but the day belongs to Leon Van Bon and the Lotto squad.
Ziegler did a great job. Van Bon jumped and got a gap, but Ziegler grabbed his wheel and was able to fight back. Ziegler came up around Van Bon, but the cagey veteran from Lotto was able to hold him off for a very close victory.
Van Bon and Ziegler were off the front together for 198km. After all that, Van Bon had to throw his bike to the line to win, it was that close. The pack finished 25" behind them... that was a perfectly executed breakaway. Textbook. And Boonen blew the field away by a full bike length in that sprint for 3rd.
Some small groups are still straggling up to the line, having been dropped on the climbs.
Van Bon is commenting that it was cold out there with the snow, and the descent was slippery, but he knew it was possible to win when their gap went down to 10', then back up to 12'.
Van Bon shakes hands with race leader Jaksche after coming off the podium. They all look to be still freezing their butts off.
Brief Stage Results:
1. Leon Van Bon (Lotto-Domo)
2. Thomas Ziegler (Gerolsteiner)
3. Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Davitamon) @ 25"
Frank Vandenbroucke (Fassa Bortolo) came across the line over 1' behind the main peloton. The officials seem to be trying to assess what happened, as they have yet to release the official GC results. Vandenbroucke started the day in 4th.
If Vandenbroucke had a mechanical of some sort in the final kilometer, he'll get the same time as the peloton. If not, then he's going to plummet down the standings.
Stage 3 Results
1 VAN BON Leon LOT 5h 38' 18"
2 ZIEGLER Thomas GST m.t.
3 BOONEN Tom QSD 00' 25"
4 HUNTER Robert RAB m.t.
5 CAUCCHIOLI Pietro ALB m.t.
6 VOIGT Jens CSC m.t.
7 KIRCHEN Kim FAS m.t.
8 HUSHOVD Thor C.A m.t.
9 WEGMANN Fabian GST m.t.
10 LASTRAS Pablo IBB m.t.
11 ZBERG Beat GST m.t.
12 DAVIS Allan LST m.t.
13 REYNES Vicente IBB m.t.
14 DE GROOT Bram RAB m.t.
15 ETXEBARRIA Unai EUS m.t.
16 RENIER Franck BLB m.t.
17 SANCHEZ Samuel EUS m.t.
18 COOKE Baden FDJ m.t.
19 GALPARSORO Dionisio EUS m.t.
20 KESSLER Matthias MOB m.t.
21 KRIVTSOV Yuriy A2R m.t.
22 PEREIRO SIO Oscar PHO m.t.
23 HAYMAN Mathew RAB m.t.
24 DEKKER Erik RAB m.t.
25 SCHLECK Frank CSC m.t.
26 EDALEINE Christophe COF m.t.
27 SCANLON Mark A2R m.t.
28 HORRILLO Pedro QSD m.t.
29 BROCHARD Laurent A2R m.t.
30 JULICH Bobby CSC m.t.
31 PINEAU Jérôme BLB m.t.
32 REBELLIN Davide GST m.t.
33 JAKSCHE Jorg CSC m.t.
34 OSA Aitor IBB m.t.
35 VANDENBROUCKE Frank FAS m.t.
36 GILBERT Philippe FDJ m.t.
37 CIONI Dario FAS m.t.
38 HINCAPIE George USP m.t.
39 BASSO Ivan CSC m.t.
40 VAN DE WALLE Jurgen CHO m.t.
41 LOTZ Marc RAB m.t.
42 ONGARATO Alberto FAS m.t.
43 RINERO Christophe RAG m.t.
44 ROGERS Michael QSD m.t.
45 DESSEL Cyril PHO m.t.
46 CHAVANEL Sylvain BLB m.t.
47 DE WEERT Kevin RAB m.t.
48 EKIMOV Vjatceslav USP m.t.
49 NOVAL GONZALEZ Benjamin USP m.t.
50 CRETSKENS Wilfried QSD m.t.
51 WHITE Matthew COF m.t.
52 PENA Victor Hugo USP m.t.
53 BENETEAU Walter BLB m.t.
54 BARTOLI Michele CSC m.t.
55 LEIPHEIMER Levi RAB m.t.
56 HULSMANS Kevin QSD m.t.
57 GESLIN Anthony BLB m.t.
58 HIEKMANN Torsten MOB m.t.
59 CANCELLARA Fabian FAS m.t.
60 VALJAVEC Tadej PHO m.t.
61 WERNER Christian MOB m.t.
62 GONZALEZ Gorka EUS m.t.
63 LANDALUZE Inigo EUS m.t.
64 AZEVEDO José USP m.t.
65 TANKINK Bram QSD m.t.
66 LANDIS Floyd USP m.t.
67 PEERS Chris CHO m.t.
68 SCHNIDER Daniel PHO m.t.
69 ZUELLE Alex PHO m.t.
70 HAMILTON Tyler PHO m.t.
71 TOTSCHNIG Georg GST m.t.
72 PELLIZOTTI Franco ALB m.t.
73 BOUYER Franck BLB m.t.
74 FOFONOV Dmitriy COF m.t.
75 MIHOLJEVIC Vladimir ALB m.t.
76 SINKEWITZ Patrik QSD m.t.
77 VIRENQUE Richard QSD m.t.
78 SUNDERLAND Scott ALB m.t.
79 CUESTA Inigo COF m.t.
80 SANCHEZ Luis LST m.t.
81 POILVET Benoit C.A m.t.
82 NIERMANN Grischa RAB m.t.
83 ZANDIO Xabier IBB m.t.
84 KARPETS Vladimir IBB m.t.
85 LJUNGQUIST Marcus ALB m.t.
86 RAMIREZ Javier LST m.t.
87 MERCKX Axel LOT m.t.
88 MENCHOV Denis IBB m.t.
89 AERTS Mario MOB m.t.
90 SEIGNEUR Eddy RAG m.t.
91 MOLLER Claus Michael ALB m.t.
92 CASAR Sandy FDJ m.t.
93 GOUBERT Stephane A2R m.t.
94 VINOKOUROV Alexandre MOB m.t.
95 SCHRECK Stephan MOB m.t.
96 KASHECHKIN Andrey C.A 00' 42"
97 ARRIZABALAGA Gorka EUS 00' 50"
98 VASSEUR Cédric COF 01' 03"
99 LARSSON Gustav FAS 01' 20"
100 ROUS Didier BLB 01' 35"
101 MOOS Alexandre PHO 01' 35"
102 SERRANO Marcos LST 01' 35"
103 CONTADOR Alberto LST 01' 35"
104 LE MEVEL Christophe C.A 02' 07"
105 HALGAND Patrice C.A 02' 07"
106 BLAUDZUN Michaël CSC 02' 12"
107 PIATEK Zbigniew CHO m.t.
108 LÖWIK Gerben CHO m.t.
109 BRARD Florent CHO m.t.
110 SCHOLZ Ronny GST m.t.
111 SERPELLINI Marco GST m.t.
112 MONCOUTIE David COF m.t.
113 BESSY Frédéric COF m.t.
114 VERBRUGGHE Rik LOT m.t.
115 SALMON Benoit C.A m.t.
116 FRIGO Dario FAS m.t.
117 ZABRISKIE David USP m.t.
118 MILLAR David COF m.t.
119 LE BOULANGER Yoann RAG m.t.
120 BARANOWSKI Dariusz LST m.t.
121 GONZALEZ GALDEANO Alvaro LST m.t.
122 GUSTOV Volodymir FAS m.t.
123 JOACHIM Benoit USP m.t.
124 NOZAL Isidro LST 02' 26"
125 BRUYLANDTS Dave CHO 04' 38"
126 LÖVKVIST Thomas FDJ 06' 05"
127 BELOHVOSCIKS Raivis CHO 08' 52"
128 JOERGENSEN René ALB m.t.
129 VIERHOUTEN Aart LOT m.t.
130 VERHEYEN Geert CHO m.t.
131 LEQUATRE Geoffroy C.A m.t.
132 DUMOULIN Samuel A2R m.t.
133 ARTETXE Mikel EUS m.t.
134 BOTERO Santiago MOB m.t.
135 PORTAL Nicolas A2R m.t.
136 BUFFAZ Mickaël RAG 10' 05"
137 ASTARLOZA Mikel A2R m.t.
138 AUGER Guillaume RAG m.t.
139 MC EWEN Robbie LOT m.t.
140 DE CLERCQ Hans LOT m.t.
141 IRIZAR Markel EUS m.t.
142 THIBOUT Bruno RAG m.t.
143 BECKE Daniel IBB m.t.
144 EISEL Bernhard FDJ m.t.
145 RADOCHLA Steffen IBB m.t.
146 RASTELLI Ellis ALB m.t.
147 BERTHOU Eric RAG m.t.
148 JALABERT Nicolas PHO m.t.
149 MUTSCHLER Klaus RAG m.t.
150 DA CRUZ Carlos FDJ m.t.
151 GUESDON Frédéric FDJ m.t.
152 NAZON Jean-Patrick A2R 16' 28"
153 POLLACK Olaf GST 16' 28"
154 DETILLOUX Christophe LOT 16' 28"
155 WILSON Matthew FDJ 16' 28"
156 MOERENHOUT Koos LOT 16' 28"
157 VOECKLER Thomas BLB 16' 28"
158 PIIL Jakob CSC 16' 28"
159 WIGGINS Bradley C.A 25' 30"
YAKOVLEV Serguei MOB Abandon
General Classification after Stage 3
1 JAKSCHE Jorg CSC 9h 43' 55"
2 REBELLIN Davide GST 00' 06"
3 JULICH Bobby CSC 00' 18"
4 VANDENBROUCKE Frank FAS 00' 22"
5 VOIGT Jens CSC 00' 22"
6 PEREIRO SIO Oscar PHO 00' 25"
7 HORRILLO Pedro QSD 00' 31"
8 ZBERG Beat GST 00' 32"
9 ROGERS Michael QSD 00' 32"
10 CANCELLARA Fabian FAS 00' 34"
11 HINCAPIE George USP 00' 37"
12 HIEKMANN Torsten MOB 00' 41"
13 NOVAL GONZALEZ Benjamin USP 00' 45"
14 HUSHOVD Thor C.A 00' 47"
15 TANKINK Bram QSD 00' 50"
16 BARTOLI Michele CSC 00' 50"
17 BASSO Ivan CSC 00' 51"
18 AZEVEDO José USP 00' 54"
19 VAN DE WALLE Jurgen CHO 00' 55"
20 VALJAVEC Tadej PHO 00' 59"
21 LOTZ Marc RAB 01' 00"
22 GILBERT Philippe FDJ 01' 01"
23 EKIMOV Vjatceslav USP 01' 01"
24 SCHLECK Frank CSC 01' 02"
25 HULSMANS Kevin QSD 01' 04"
26 CHAVANEL Sylvain BLB 01' 05"
27 PENA Victor Hugo USP 01' 10"
28 HAYMAN Mathew RAB 01' 52"
29 LÖWIK Gerben CHO 02' 47"
30 BLAUDZUN Michaël CSC 03' 00"
31 LE MEVEL Christophe C.A 03' 05"
32 DEKKER Erik RAB 05' 19"
33 ZUELLE Alex PHO 05' 31"
34 ZIEGLER Thomas GST 05' 37"
35 NIERMANN Grischa RAB 05' 39"
36 BROCHARD Laurent A2R 05' 39"
37 GONZALEZ Gorka EUS 05' 41"
38 KARPETS Vladimir IBB 05' 42"
39 ETXEBARRIA Unai EUS 05' 42"
40 VINOKOUROV Alexandre MOB 05' 43"
41 DE GROOT Bram RAB 05' 45"
42 KIRCHEN Kim FAS 05' 46"
43 LANDIS Floyd USP 05' 46"
44 CASAR Sandy FDJ 05' 49"
45 DESSEL Cyril PHO 05' 54"
46 SINKEWITZ Patrik QSD 05' 55"
47 FOFONOV Dmitriy COF 05' 56"
48 VAN BON Leon LOT 05' 57"
49 LEIPHEIMER Levi RAB 05' 57"
50 OSA Aitor IBB 05' 58"
Points Classification after Stage 3
1 VOIGT Jens CSC 40pts
2 REBELLIN Davide GST 37pts
3 JAKSCHE Jorg CSC 33pts
4 ZBERG Beat GST 32pts
5 VAN BON Leon LOT 30pts
6 ZIEGLER Thomas GST 27pts
7 HUSHOVD Thor C.A 26pts
8 HORRILLO Pedro QSD 25pts
9 VANDENBROUCKE Frank FAS 22pts
10 DEKKER Erik RAB 22pts
Best Climber Classification after Stage 3
1 ZIEGLER Thomas GST 19pts
2 BELOHVOSCIKS Raivis CHO 16pts
3 VAN BON Leon LOT 4pts
4 PIIL Jakob CSC 4pts
5 DA CRUZ Carlos FDJ 2pts
6 BLAUDZUN Michaël CSC 2pts
7 LÖWIK Gerben CHO 1pts
8 RAMIREZ Javier LST 1pts
Best Young Rider after Stage 3
1 ROGERS Michael QSD 9h 44' 27"
2 CANCELLARA Fabian FAS 00' 02"
3 HIEKMANN Torsten MOB 00' 09"
4 NOVAL GONZALEZ Benjamin USP 00' 13"
5 GILBERT Philippe FDJ 00' 29"
6 SCHLECK Frank CSC 00' 30"
7 CHAVANEL Sylvain BLB 00' 33"
8 LE MEVEL Christophe C.A 02' 33"
9 ZIEGLER Thomas GST 05' 05"
10 KARPETS Vladimir IBB 05' 10"
Teams Classification after Stage 3
1 Team CSC Csc 29h 12' 29"
2 Quick Step - Davitamon Qsd 01' 09"
3 US Postal - Berry Floor Usp 01' 09"
4 Credit Agricole C.a 01' 55"
5 Chocolade Jacques Wincor Cho 03' 39"
6 Rabobank Rab 05' 31"
7 Gerolsteiner Gst 05' 40"
8 Phonak Hearing Systems Pho 05' 51"
9 Fassa Bortolo Fas 06' 00"
10 T-Mobile Team Mob 11' 48"
11 Fdjeux.com Fdj 11' 57"
12 Brioches La Boulangere Blb 12' 20"
13 Alessio - Bianchi Alb 12' 41"
14 Lotto - Domo Lot 15' 18"
15 Euskaltel - Euskadi Eus 16' 40"
16 Cofidis Credit Par Telephone Cof 16' 42"
17 Illes Balears - B. Santander Ibb 16' 47"
18 AG2R Prevoyance A2r 16' 58"
19 Liberty Seguros Lst 17' 03"
20 R.a.G.T. Semences - Mg Rover Rag 19' 37"