Henderson wins nervous Paris-Nice stage 1
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Monday, March 8, 2010

Henderson wins nervous Paris-Nice stage 1

by Ben Atkins at 11:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Paris-Nice

Greg Henderson (Team Sky) won the first stage of Paris-Nice in a small group sprint. The New Zealander was fastest of a select group of riders that detached from the front of the peloton in the closing kilometres. Second place went to Grega Bole (Lampre-Farnese Vini) and Jeremy Galland (Saur-Sojasun) was third.

The stage was peppered with incidents and crashes, with Levi Leipheimer (Team RadioShack), Alberto Contador (Astana) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) among those who found themselves on the deck.

The first half of the stage was dominated by an almost immediate escape from Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil) and Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano). With both teams hoping to impress race organisers ASO enough to secure a Tour de France wildcard. The two riders worked well together, building a lead of 6’20” by 32km.

The Rabobank team of overnight race leader Lars Boom began to peg the lead back, but was happy to allow the duo to take the points and time bonuses at both intermediate sprints. Boom himself mopped up third place at both sprints, increasing his lead by 2 seconds.

With just over 50km in the 201.5km stage remaining, the duo was caught just after the second intermediate sprint. Almost immediately there was an attack from Philippe Gilbert (OmegaPharma-Lotto) and Tom Veelers (Skil-Shimano).

At almost exactly the same time as the Gilbert/Veelers breakaway went, the first major crash of the stage happened at the back of the peloton. Included among those brought down were Leipheimer and Chris Horner (both RadioShack), Samuel Sanchez and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese-Vini); the latter still suffering from the knocks he received in last months Vuelta a Andalucia.

As the peloton regrouped behind them, Gilbert and Veelers pulled out a lead of 55 seconds with 35km to go, but they were steadily reeled in by the peloton, led by the Rabobank, Astana and Caisse d’Epargne teams. The pair was caught with 16km to go when an acceleration by the Caisse d’Epargne team caused a split at the front, with 17 riders detaching.

With 5km to go, the group of 17 – including race leader Boom, second place Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), Nicolas Roche (AG2R-La Mondiale), David Millar (Garmin-Transitions), defending champion Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) and teammate Alejandro Valverde – had a lead of 30 seconds over the group containing race favourite Contador. With 3km remaining the Spaniard himself crashed along with Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam), but he managed to regain the group.

Inside the final kilometre Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) attacked the lead group, but the German was pulled back and Henderson won the sprint. The main group containing the rest of the favourites finished some 17 seconds later.

With 2 seconds picked up at intermediate sprints, Boom extended his lead over Voigt to 5 seconds; with Leipheimer in the second group, Millar moves up to third place overall.

Result stage 1
1. Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky
2. Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre-Farnese Vini
3. Jeremy Galland (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
4. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
6. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R-La Mondiale
7. Jens Voigt (Ger) Saxo Bank
8. Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil
9. Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Columbia
10. Romain Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo

Standings after stage 1
1. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank
2. Jens Voigt (Ger) Saxo Bank @ 5s
3. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Transitions @ 13s


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