Valverde says pre-race tactics caused crucial split in Paris-Nice
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Monday, March 08, 2010

Valverde says pre-race tactics caused crucial split in Paris-Nice

by Steve Jones at 12:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice
 

Alejandro ValverdeCaisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde was satisfied with the team's work in today's stage of Paris-Nice. The Spaniard, who began the day wearing the mountains classification jersey, finished fifth in the group of 17 riders that escaped the peloton in the closing kilometers. Also in the break was his teammate and defending champion Luis Leon Sanchez, as well as race leader Lars Boom (Rabobank), Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), Nicolas Roche (AG2R-La Mondiale) and David Millar (Garmin-Transitions), all of whom could factor into the general classification.

With Caisse d'Epargne's two pre-race favorites picking up seventeen seconds on most of the race's overall contenders, the squad also ended up as big winners on the day.

“I would have like to win the stage too”, Valverde said after crossing the line, “but after doing a lot of work in the breakaway so we could increase the gap on the bunch as much as possible, I didn't have the strength to beat a sprinter like [Greg] Henderson (Team Sky). Regardless, I'm really happy about what we were able to achieve today.”

The 201.5 kilometer stage that finished in Contres wasn't expected to factor into the battle for general classification. In a race that is expected to be won by seconds rather than minutes, today's events will likely prove to shake up the overall competition's final podium in Nice.

The closing kilometers of the race were hectic with several stage and overall contenders hitting the deck. The victims included Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner (both RadioShack), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese-Vini), Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) and pre-race favorite Aberto Contador (Astana).

“The stage was a very fast and very nervous one with many crashes. We were very careful and stayed at the front of the race the whole time. Our team manager Yvon Ledanois knew the finale of the stage perfectly because he came here a few weeks ago to study the route," Valverde explained. "He told us that at 23 kilometers from the finish, just after the right turn, the wind could play a very important role, so we had to be at the front of the bunch right there.”

Ledanois' prediction proved vital to the team: “Things went exactly the way he said they would, so we gave everything [after the right turn] to cause a split in the peloton. The gap on the line was 17 seconds. The most important part is that many of our rivals [for the overall] finished with the second group [and lost time]. Today we showed everyone that the Caisse d’Epargne team is one of the best, and that we will try to be at the front every day,” concluded a very happy Valverde.

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