Paris-Nice: El Pistolero Aberto Contador shoots to kill in stage 4
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Paris-Nice: El Pistolero shoots to kill in stage 4

by Ben Atkins at 10:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Paris-Nice

alberto contadorAlberto Contador (Astana) won the fourth stage of Paris-Nice in Mende after a solo attack on the final climb to la Croix Neuve. The Tour de France champion finished 10 seconds clear of second placed Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne), who finished just ahead of Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). Overnight leader Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) managed to limit his losses to Contador to just 44 seconds, but this was enough to see the German veteran lose the yellow jersey to the Spaniard.

"This is a great victory,” said Contador afterwards. “I knew it would be mountainous so I prepared for this stage in order to get yellow. I knew I had to win to achieve this [get the overall lead - Ed]. Now, it is important to defend the yellow jersey."

As on each of the previous stages, a breakaway group of riders escaped the peloton early. Jerome Pineau (Quick Step) set off alone after just 11km and was joined by Amael Moinard (Cofidis), Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil) Jean-Marc Marino (Saur-Sojasun), Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano) and Julien Loubet (AG2R) which made seven up front. The Saxo Bank team of race leader Voigt was happy to allow them to build a lead, which hovered around the 4 minute mark for several kilometres.

With just under 50km to the finish Contador’s Astana team took over at the front of the peloton and began to close the gap. By the 25km banner the lead was down to 2’10” and was reduced further to 1’20” at 20km. With 15km left the seven riders were just 45 seconds ahead, and the Cervélo TestTeam and Lampre-Farnese Vini took over from Astana.

With just 11km to go, as the race approached the 2nd category Côte de Chabrits, the breakaway was caught and Pierre Rolland (Bbox-Bouyges Telecom) immediately attacked. The Frenchman tackled the climb alone but was caught before the top, which led to an attack by 2009 Tour de France stage winner Brice Feillu.

Astana refused to allow Feillu to get away, and with the Caisse d’Epargne team massing forwards on the final climb to la Croix Neuve, Contador made the move that the other favourites were unable to follow. Valverde and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) tried to work together to regain their compatriot, but were unable to make any impression.

Result stage 4
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne @ 10s
3. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 10s
4. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha @ 12s
5. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox-Bouyges Telecom @ 18s

Standings after stage 4
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana


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