Cervélo TestTeam's Tondo powers to Paris-Nice stage six win
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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cervélo TestTeam's Tondo powers to Paris-Nice stage six win

by VeloNation Press at 11:37 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Paris-Nice

Xavier Tondo - Cervelo TestTesteamSpaniard Xavier Tondo (Cervélo TestTeam) took a brilliant win today in the sixth stage of Paris-Nice, when he attacked the main break of the day 39 kilometers from the finish and powered his way to the line alone. Seconds later his compatriot Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) took the field sprint for second with a super Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo), at just twenty years old, showing his class again by finishing a close third in what was the race's longest stage.

"It was incredible, really," said Xavier Tondo, after his victory. "All the way I felt really good. The breakaway was really fast, but when I started the mountains, I felt really good. I attacked early, because I know that if I arrived with Cunego, it would be very fast, and it would be impossible for me to get the victory."

The overall classification remains unchanged, but Valverde picked up a six second bonus with his second place finish further closing the gap to Contador.

Today's stage set off to sunny skies with 158 participants left in the peloton.  The riders would take in eight climbs on the day's 220 kilometer ride from Peynier to Touretttes-sur-Loup, five category three, two category two and the category one Col de Vence with just over 30 kilometers remaining.

Twenty-three set off

Several riders tried their luck in the first kilometers of the race, but nothing materialized until a group of 23 broke clear. They built up a lead of 1:35 by the 62 kilometer mark which gave Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) the virtual leader's jersey on the road. Notable riders in the group included mountains classification leader Amael Moinard (Cofidis), Team RadioShack's Levi Leipheimer and Tiago Machado, HTC-Columbia's Maxime Monfort and Tony Martin, Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Sandy Casar (FDJeux), Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Omega Pharma Lotto), Xavier Tondo (Cervélo TestTeam) and 22-year-old U23 World Champion Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

The Astana, Caisse d'Epargne and Liquigas teams led peloton to keep the lead group in check, but began to lose ground giving away 2:10 at the 150 kilometer mark.  The Caisse d'Epargne team was sent to the front en mass and began to reduce the gap for their leaders Alejandro Valverde and Luis Leon Sanchez.

A bold solo bid

With 39 kms to go, Xavier Tondo (Cervelo) attacked the front group and Cyril Gautier (BBox Bouygues Telecom) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) followed.  Tondo soldiered on seperating himself from the rest, knowing his best chance of victory included not contending with Cunego's sprint at the finish.

Behind the peloton was working hard to pick up the escapees, swallowing up the Lampre rider with seven kilometers left to race.  Tondo continued to ride strong, still with 35 seconds advantage when the Italian was caught.  His gap was brought down 5 seconds in the next kilometer.

The Spaniard never showed any weakness though, and still had 20 seconds in hand at the three kilometer mark as he pushed a big gear up the uncategorized climb.  The peloton underestimated Tondo's strength and he crossed the line to earn his first win for the Cervélo TestTeam.  Five seconds later Valverde charged through with Sagan nipping at his heels, proving he was up to the task even after a long day in the saddle.

"We changed our strategy after the stage yesterday, where we lost a lot of time," said Alex Sans Vega, Cervélo TestTeam's sports director. "We wanted to get one of our guys in the top ten today. We had three guys who were very strong today, and Tondo got in there. He tried to work in the break, but not like crazy, because the other team had two riders, and then we just waited until the last climb. From there on, he went alone. We didn't want to wait for Cunego, because he's really fast in the sprint, so Tondo took the risk to go all the way alone. He was very strong, and he made it."

Sunday's final stage around Nice is short at only 119 kilometers, but with its three categorized climbs, including the Col d’Eze which summits near the finish, Contador will have to be very attentive to keep his overall race lead.

Paris-Nice stage six results:
1. Xavier Tondo (Cervélo TestTeam)
2. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
3. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) 03.34.15

General classification after stage five:
1. Alberto Contador (Astana)
2. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) @ 0:14
3. Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo) @ 0:25


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