Sagan wins Paris Nice stage 3; Voigt takes over lead
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sagan wins Paris Nice stage 3; Voigt takes over lead

by Ben Atkins at 11:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Paris-Nice

Peter SaganPeter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) won a weather-shortened stage 3 of Paris-Nice as a small group detached from the front of the peloton over the top of the final climb. Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha) was second, with Irish champion Nicolas Roche (AG2r-La Mondiale) in third. Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) led Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) and Alberto Contador (Astana) over the line 2 seconds behind, and the main peloton followed a further 4 seconds later.

With snow sweeping across much of France, the stage had to be shortened to just 155km, eliminating the first two categorised climbs in the meantime. With the summit of the final climb, the Côte de la Martinie, at just 3km from the finish though, this was always going to be the stage’s decisive point.

The attacking begins

As usual, a number of early attacks were attempted before the trio of Yann Huguet (Skil-Shimano), Nikolas Maes (Quick Step) and Jurgen Roelandts (OmegaPharma-Lotto) was adjudged acceptable by the peloton. The three riders steadily built a lead of over six minutes with 100km remaining. The Rabobank team of Lars Boom, and the Caisse d’Epargne team of defending champion Luis Leon Sanchez led the peloton behind them.

Over the next 50km the lead reduced steadily until with it was down to less than a minute with 25km to go. Renewed efforts from Huguet and Roelandts saw Maes dropped and a slight increase in their lead over the peloton, but they were eventually caught just before base of the final climb with less than 5km to go.

Roche was the first to attack the HTC-Columbia led peloton, chased by Sagan and Rodriguez. The climb averaged 7.2% but at only 1.1km long there was no chance to create large time gaps. The trio managed to hold their lead to the finish though, where Sagan took the victory.

Boom missed the split in the peloton and finished in the second big group. The Dutchman lost 27 seconds to Sagan but more importantly lost 25 to overnight second place Voigt. The German veteran took the yellow jersey with Sagan and Sanchez moving up to second and third places.

It was the first ProTour win for the 20 year old Liquigas phenom, and comes after his impressive second place finish in yesterday's stage.  "[Roman] Kreuziger is the number one rider for team Liquigas," he confirmed after the stage, despite his strong fifth place finish, three seconds faster than his teammate, in the opening prologue.

Evergreen Jens Voigt was ecstatic about his result today.  The 38 year old was clearly having a difficult time matching pulls with Contador in the break. "It's not getting easier," he said afterwards. "I still train hard and I'm motivated the get results, we'll see what happens."

Not one to shy away from doing his fair share of the work, he realizes that at some points in the race his age is becoming a factor.

"It will be difficult to keep the jersey tomorrow," admitted the German. "It's a very sticky finish."  He said he was glad to be back in a leaders jersey and intends to fight on to keep it that way.

Paris-Nice stage 3 results:
1. Peter Sagan (Slk) Liquigas-Doimo
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2r-La Mondiale
4. Jens Voigt (Ger) Saxo Bank
5. Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Columbia
6. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana
7. Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
8. Sumuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis
9. Xavier Florencio (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam
10. Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil

Standings after stage 3
1. Jens Voigt (Ger) Saxo Bank
2. Peter Sagan (Slk) Liquigas-Doimo @ 6s
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne @ 9s
4. David Millar (Gbr) Garmin-Transitions @ 12s
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo @ 14s
6. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank @ 20s
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana @ 20s
8. Levi Leipheimer (Usa) RadioShack @ 24s
9. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha @ 28s
10. Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervelo TestTeam @ 28s



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