Paris Nice 2004
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Stage 3: La Chapelle Saint Ursin-Roanne (229 km)
Stage 3 Round up
Lotto Domo were naturally delighted when Leon Van Bon took the victory this afternoon as was the good man himself – “When Ziegler attacked, I simply rode along. I am far back in the General Classification and I thought that they might let us go. When we had twelve minutes lead, I began to believe that we could do it,” said Van Bon.
The Lotto Domo website reports -
Leon van Bon (32) has won the third stage of Paris-Nice, beating the German Thomas Ziegler in the sprint, after a breakaway that started after 31 km already. The two made a gap of fifteen minutes, but in Roanne, after a marathon of 197 km, there were only thirty seconds left. This was a real stunt of the two, on a difficult and snowy terrain.
Van Bon's win in an early and important race like Paris-Nice means a lot to him. Last year he had serious sinusitis-problems. An operation in December gave him relief. In 2003, Van Bon has won a stage in the Tour of Germany and the race in Veenendaal. The stage win of Van Bon is the fourth success this season for the Lotto-Domo-team. Robbie McEwen won two stages in the Tour Down Under and last week he was the fastest of the bunch in Fayt-le-Franc (Belgium).
So an heroic break away by both riders and Gerolsteiner were equally delighted with the gutsy performance of Thomas Ziegler who found himself making the two man break not expecting to get with in a tyre width of winning the stage - “I actually only attacked, to get some points for the mountain competition. I had got a few points yesterday. I was trying to get the points, however once we crossed the last climb it was clear we had a chance to stay away," said Ziegler.
Not too much disappointment then for Ziegler – for indeed at the end of the day he does lead the mountain comptetion ahead of Belohvosciks (CHO) and Leon Van Bon (LOT).
The young gun from Erfurt (24/11/1980) seems to have picked up a habit from team mate Davide Rebellin (second overall) of managing to finish in second place. In his second pro season, after a spell with Team Wiesenhof in 2003 he was second in the Giro della Provincia di Lucca 3rd stage and finished second in the overall of that race too. Second again today, he put that down to inexperience: "In the Sprint Van Bon surprised me. I knew, that he is fast, but I thought, I would be able to pass him. Still I am only a beginner….”
Meanwhile no major changes in the General Classification with all the top ten riders coming safely home.
Jörg Jaksche was pleased how the day developed - "Today it was easier for me, despite the bad weather. We didn't have to work too hard, because other teams were interested in the pursuit. The conditions were difficult, it was very cold. I am confident, about the rest of the race, even if the most difficult stages are yet to come.”
On the question, who is most dangerous opponent in in the fight for overall victory, Jaksche answered: "Above all Rebellin and Vandenbroucke.”
So a better than good day for Team CSC's Jens Voigt who also made his way to the podium, as the German rider took the green points jersey from Davide Rebellin.
Stage 4: Roanne-Le Puy en Velay (179 km)
Another interesting day in the saddle for the pretenders and contenders. Col de la Croix de l'Homme Mort half way through the stage could see a dangerous counter attack when the early break is caught. A day for team spirit and hard work.
Update: Stage 4 was cancelled due to snowfall.