1. Alberto Contador (Spain, Astana)
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spain, Caisse d’Epargne) 11 seconds behind
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain, Caisse d’Epargne) 25 secs.
Top five placings in the 119-kms 7th and final stage of Paris-Nice.
1. Amael Moinard (France, Cofidis)
2. Thomas Voeckler (France, BBox)
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spain, Caisse d’Epargne) three seconds behind
4. Nicolas Roche (Ireland, AG2R)
5. Reine Taaramae (Estonia, Cofidis)
Alberto Contador (Astana) wins the 68th edition of Paris-Nice.
Amael Moinard wins the 7th and final stage.
Moinard and Voeckler under the red flame with a 14 seconds lead over the Contador group.
Luis Leon Sanchez has joined Brajkovic in the chase.
Slovenian Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack) chases behind Moinard and Voeckler.
The constant atttacks in the Contador group work in the favour of the two escapees, who keep a 15 seconds lead.
Six kilometres to go and Christophe Le Mevel surged from the Contador group but he crashed a few meters later.
The Contador group have now been joined by ten other riders including Frank Schleck, Jens Voigt, Samuel Sanchez and Roman Kreuziger. All the leading favourites are now chasing behind Moinard and Voeckler.
Rodriguez attacked with 8 kms to go. Contador leaves Sanchez and Valverde to take the chase in their hands.
Chasing 10 seconds behind Moinard and Voeckler are now five riders - Contador, Valverde, Rodriguez, Luis Leon Sanchez and Reine Taaramae.
Everyone expected Valverde to go for sprint bonuses but Contador made a point of grabbing the second on offer in the last sprint in Eze.
Result of the sprint in Eze (km 105)
1. Voeckler 3 pts, 3 seconds
2. Moinard 2 pts, 2 seconds
3. Contador 1 pt, 1 seconds.
Contador, Rodriguez and Valverde are 12 seconds behind Voeckler and Moinard oj the descent.
Results on the Col dâ€™Eze (1st cat, km 103)
1. Moinard 10 pts
2. Vocekler 8 pts
3. Cotnador 6 pts 16 secs behind
4. Rodriguez 4 pts
5. Valverde 3 pts
6. Taaramae 2 pts 30 secs behind
7. LL Sanchez 1 pts
Contador decided to take the race in his own hands. He accelerated with Rodriguez and Luis Leon Sacnhez on his heels.
Voeckler and Moinard are back together one kilometre from the top.
Katusha team leader Joaquin Rodriguez, 7th overall, attacked with 17 kms to go. Alberto Contador reacted easily.
Green jersey holder Peter Sagan (Liquigas) has been dropped by the yellow jersey group.
On the first turns of the climb to the Col d’Eze, Voeckler drops Moinard.
Voeckler and Moinard tackle the Col d’Eze wth a 1:45 lead over the main bunch.
Cofidis team director Francis Van Londerseele told ww.letour.fr Moinard wanted to be at his best in the final stage: â€śThe polka-dot jersey was already won but when you have a talented rider like he is, you cannot stop him from attacking. Amael really meant to prove he deserved it and thatâ€™s what he did by reaching the Col de la Porte in the lead.â€ť
Km 94 - The lead of the two escapees is now down to 1:45. The Katusha are leading the chase.
Results on the Col de la Turbie (km 88.5)
1. Moinard 10 pts
2. Voeckler 8
3. Mathieu Perget (Caisse dâ€™Epargne) 6
4. Dimitri Foronov (Astana) 4
5. Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) 3
6. Evgeni Petrov (Katusha) 2
7. Reine Taaramae (Cofidis) 1
With 28 kms to go, the gap between Voekcler, Moinard and the peloton is 2:10 after topping at 2:25
Asked by www.letour.fr about Team Skyâ€™s Paris-Nice, Sean Yates said it had been a good overall experience: â€śThe verdict is we won a stage which is great for the team. Also the aim was for Simon Gerrans to end in the top 10 and heâ€™s top 15, only 30 seconds off the top 10. One of our goals was also for Geraint Thomas to be in the top 10 in the prologue and he was 15th. Also Steve Cummings was away all day yesterday. We were a bit underpowered as Serge Pauwels got injured. Given the strength of the field, with riders like Contador, Valverde or Sanchez, weâ€™re overall pleased with our Paris-Nice. It was a good experience.â€ť
The average speed in the second hour of the stage was 39,9 kph for an overall average speed of 41,4 kph.
Voeckler and Moinard are now at the foot of the climb to La Turbie (km 81).
BBox team chief Jean-Rene Bernaudeau explained to www.letour.fr the motives behind Voecklerâ€™s move: â€śToday we wanted to have Thomas or Pierrick Fedrigo in a break. Thomas was the one to go. It was not planned but Thomas has incredible legs just now, he is in sparkling form and he really wanted to leave this Paris-Nice on a high note. Nothingâ€™s over yet and thereâ€™s a long way to go before the finish. Also if heâ€™s out there now itâ€™s because of the puncture which made him tumble down the GC two days ago. Without the puncture, he would still be ninth overall and they wouldnâ€™t have let him go.â€ť
Riblon waited for the peloton and is now back in the bunch.
Km 71 - Voeckler and Moinard lead the peloton by 1:45. Riblon is 50 seconds adrift.
Km 61 - The latest gap between Voeckler, Moinard and Riblon is 40 seconds. The peloton is one minute adrift.
Km 59 - Christophe Riblon (AG2R) surged to chase behind the two escapees. He is 30 seconds adrift as the peloton seems to relax a bit.
Km 57.5 - Voeckler and Moinard lead the bunch by 25 seconds in the descent.
Results on the Col de la Porte (1st cat, km 51):
1. Thomas Voeckler (Bbox) 10 points
2. Amael Moinard (Cofidfis) 8 points
3. Reine Taaramae (Cofidis) 6 pts
4. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse dâ€™Epargne) 4
5. Alberto Contador (Astana) 3
6. Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) 2
Km 49 - Voeckler and Moinard lead the bunch by 20 seconds.
David Lopez Garcia (Caisse dâ€™Epargne), polka-dot jersey holder Amael Moinard and Thomas Voeckler (Bbox) surged near the top of the climb to the Col de la Porte.
The two escapees have been caught by the peloton, still spearheaded by Astana riders.
Contador’s Astana team captain Benjamin Noval also called it quits.
The Astana lead the chase behind Chavanel and Peraud. Alberto Contador is in second place in the peloton.
Km 46 - Chavanel and Peraud are now alone in the front on the climb to the Col de la Porte.
Maxime Bouet (AG2R) has been dropped by the leading group.
Km 45 - Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) joins the break. The first gap is 15 seconds.
Km 44 - Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Jean-Christophe Peraud (Omega Pharma Lotto), Maxime Bouet (AG2R) and Evgeni Petrov (Katusha) broke clear.
The peloton covered 43.9 kilometres in the first hour of the stage.
Valverde knows the course well, having won the final Paris-Nice stage in 2005. That year, he fell 10 seconds short of top spot in the race won by American Bobby Julich.
Km 38 - Alejandro Valverde tried to join a move by Albert Timmer (Skil Shimano) and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), but an Astana rider brought the bunch back.
Alessandro Spezialetti (Lampre) also gave up.
Vicente Garcia Acosta (Caisse d’Epargne) also called it a day.
Km 35 - The pace in the peloton is very high as the race nears the first climb of the day.
Tony Martin (Columbia) and Julien El Fares (Cofidis) also call it quits after the crash.
Involved in the crash, Briton Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo) has given up.
Km 32 - Eight riders have gone as the peloton regrouped.
The crash split the peloton in two groups. The first bunch are making it back on two escapees, Mirko Lorenzetto (Lampre) and Laurent Didier (Saxo Bank).
A crash has taken place in the peloton. Among the riders involved are Jerome Pineau (Quick Step), Tony Martin (Columbia) and Chris Sorensen (Saxo Bank).
Km 26 - The four have been reined in by the peloton.
Km 24 â€“ Another break involves four riders, William Bonnet (Bbox), Jos Van Emden (Rabobank), David Le Lay (AG2R) and Alexandre Botcharov (Katusha).
Peter Sagan (Liquigas) also moves up one spot to 7th overall. He usptaged Spain’s Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha).
Luis Leon Sanchez is now third overall thanks to his two seconds bonus. He now leads Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) by one second.
Results of the first intermediate sprint in Le Plan-du-Var (km 18.5)
1. Peter Sagan (Liquigas) 3 points, 3 seconds
2. Luis-Leon Sanchez (Caisse dâ€™Epargne) 2 points, 2 seconds
3. Aleksandr Kuchynski (Liquigas) 1 point, 1 second.
The peloton is only one kilometre from the first sprint in Le Plan du Var.
The first sprint in Plan du Var is in sight. Intermediate sprints are of crucial importance on this stage as they might help Alejandro Valverde take some time back on Alberto Contador.
AG2R team chief Vincent Lavenu told www.letour.fr Irelandâ€™s Nicolas Roche had confirmed his ambitions on this Paris-Nice: â€śObviously we missed Nocentini but Nicolas Roche showed he was not far from winning big races. He will get there because he has gained confidence. Overall, even if we didnâ€™t win a stage, I saw a good team on the road and I especially liked the echelon we launched on the Aix-en-Provence stage. Everybody was involved and itâ€™s a morale booster. The group is a solid one.â€ť
Km 10.5 - Machado and El Fares have been caught.
Km 8 â€“ Tiago Machado (RadioShack) and Julien El Fares (Cofidis) attacked in turn.
Garmin-Transitions team director Lionel Marie said he had mixed feelings about his teamâ€™s showing on Paris-Nice but that by and large, the American outfit were finishing the race on a positive note: â€śWeâ€™re satisfied with David Millarâ€™s overall performance and weâ€™re going to do everything we can to preserve his 9th place. It was part of his gameplan to be in shape early in the season and heâ€™ll be super strong in the Criterium International. Weâ€™re also happy to see Christian Vandevelde finish well after a week at such high level of racing. He is slowly building up to the Tour but we feel much better as he seems to have recovered from his crash in the Tour of Algarve. On the down side, Daniel Martin and Christian Meier crashed but overall, it was a good Paris-Nice.â€ť
Jens Mouris punctured. The break is over.
Km 2 - Lars Boom (Rabobank), the prologue winner, and Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil) parted with the bunch.
Four riders did not start: Nikolas Maes (Quick Step), Julien Loubet (AG2R), Greg Henderson (Sky), winner of the first stage in Contres, and Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil).
The start was given at 11:39 to 148 riders.
Tadej Valjavec turns 33 today. Happy birthday to the Slovenian AG2R leader.
In Lâ€™Equipe, Alejandro Valverde sounds almost resigned to see Alberto Contador win his second Paris-Nice after 2007: â€śShould Paris-Nice end on Monday, I might have chances to win it,â€ť he said.
â€śHowever 16 seconds are still up for grabs . Nothing is definitely lost but Caisse dâ€™Epargne will have to work not to let anybody go for Valverde to earn three seconds twice and win the stage in Nice,â€ť wrote lâ€™Equipeâ€™s Manuiel Martinez.
â€śWe know who is going to carry the burden of the race,â€ť Contador told the sports daily.
In local daily Nice-Matin, Franceâ€™s Christophe Le Mevel, unlucky on his home roads yesterday, pledges to try again: â€śI have nothing left to lose, I will give it a try in the Col dâ€™Eze,â€ť the FDJeux rider said.
Alberto Contador (Astana) retained the yellow jersey on the eight climbs of the 6th stage but his now under the threat of Alejandro Valverde (Caisse dâ€™Epargne), who claimed six seconds back by finishing second in Tourrettes-sur-Loup and is now only 14 seconds adrift. Czech Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) is still third, 25 seconds off the pace, with title-holder Luis Leon Sanchez on his back wheel, one second behind.
On 109 points, Slovakiaâ€™s Peter Sagan (Liquigas) is well-placed to take the points jersey all the way to the finish. Germanyâ€™s Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) is second, 19 points behind with Alejandro Valverde third on 85 points.
Kreuziger could earn a fine consolation prize with the white jersey as the best young rider yet he probably hopes for more. He leads his team-mate Sagan by 13 seconds while Estoniaâ€™s Reine Taaramae is third, 41 seconds behind.
Amael Moinard (Cofidis) is a breakaway leader in the mountainâ€™s classification on 47 points. He leads second-placed Laurent Mangel by 29 points with only 30 points on offer in the three climbs of the day. Damiano Cunego, third on 17 points, would need to finish top on all three climbs to come any close to the Frenchman.
In the teamâ€™s classification, Liquigas has upstaged Caisse dâ€™Epargne.
Km 51 â€“ Col de la Porte
Km 88.5 â€“ Col de la Turbie
Km 103 â€“ Col dâ€™Eze
Km 18.5 â€“ Plan du Var
Km 105 â€“ Eze.
Welcome on the 119-kms 7th and final stage of Paris-Nice between Nice and Nice. The start will soon be given on the world famous Promenade des Anglais.