Moinard takes final Paris-Nice stage, Contador the overall
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Moinard takes final Paris-Nice stage, Contador the overall

by VeloNation Press at 10:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Paris-Nice

Alberto ContadorFrenchman Amael Moinard (Cofidis) took victory in Sunday's 119 kilometer seventh and final stage of Paris-Nice by less than a wheel over compatriot Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom). Moinard overtook the Bbox rider just before crossing the line. For the overall, two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Astana) managed to win the race for a second time after successfully defending his tenuous lead over Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde.

"It’s very difficult to win a race when you’re the favorite. When everybody is after you and you win, it’s a liberation," said Contador after the race.  "Today it was short but intense as I had to cover to every attack. It was a great emotion on the podium as it would have been a shame to lose a big race like Paris-Nice on sprint bonuses."

Today's short stage was the traditional course around the city of Nice which contained three first category climbs, the Col de la Porte, La Turbie and the Col d'Eze.  Following several break attempts, the first sprint of the day went to 20-year-old Paris-Nice revelation Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo), who was followed by last year's race winner Luis Leon Sanchez, whose effort secured himself a place on the podium.

At the 30 kilometer mark a crash split the peloton forcing six riders to abandon: Julien El Fares (Cofidis), Vicente Garcia Acosta (Caisse d’Epargne), Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo TestTeam), Richie Porte (Cervelo TestTeam) and Alessandro Spezialetti (Lampre-Farnese Vini).

On the first climb, the Col de la Porte, Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Omega Pharma Lotto) tried to break clear, but were brought back into the fold by Contador's Astana team before the top. Valverde, who started the day just 14 seconds adrift, tried to get clear but was unsuccessful.

The French take control

The next climb on the menu was the Col de la Porte, where mountains classification leader Amael Moinard (Cofidis) and Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) set off on their own.  The pair put 20 seconds into the peloton by the time they reached the top.  The Frenchmen continued to work well together, increasing their lead to two minutes by the time they reached the ascent of La Turbie.  They crested the summit of the second climb with their lead intact.

The time gap to the leaders began to narrow as they approached the final climb of the day, the Col d’Eze. Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez tried to attack Contador mid-way through the ascent, but the Spaniard left it to the Caisse d'Epargne leaders to close the gap.  The constant attacking in Contador's group favored the escape, but the race leader never showed a sign of weakness.  Contador decided to take control of the situation and set the tempo himself.  He managed to easily keep all of his rivals at bay to the finish, winning the 68th edition of Paris-Nice.

Ahead, Voeckler attacked the polka-dot jersey with 400 meters to go, but Moinard managed to overcome the Bbox Bouygues Telecom leader to win by less than a wheel.  Just three seconds later Valverde crossed the line with Irishman Nicolas Roche (AG2r) finishing in fourth. 

Contador has won both races he has contested so far this year, and with his strong performance in Paris-Nice, has solidified his position as the number one favorite for the Tour de France in July.  When asked about his team he wasn't ready to write them off for their appointment in four months time:  "The first thing to do is not to get carried away and to analyze things calmly without losing sight of your priorities," he explained.  "As the years go by, I’ve progressed in terms of experience and maturity. My legs are fine, my head is too, I hope the team will be even stronger in July to help me win the Tour.

"There are about seven or eight riders who can win the Tour because of their individual or their collective strength," he continued.  "I’m one of them."

2010 Paris-Nice stage seven results:
1. Amael Moinard (Cofidis)
2. Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
3. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
4. Nicolas Roche (AG2r)

2010 Paris-Nice final overall classification:
1. Alberto Contador (Astana) 28:35.34
2. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) @ 11s
3. Luis Léon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) @ 25s
4. Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo) @ 26s
5. Samuel Sanchez (Euskatel-Euskadi) @ 30s


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