Belgium’s Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil) won the 154.5-kms first stage of Paris-Nice, ahead of France’s Jeremy Roy (FDJ) and Heinrich Haussler (Garmin).
and the peloton is nearing...
and the two lead by 17 seconds.
and the three escapees maintain a 20-seconds lead over the peloton.
A group of dropped riders including France’s David Moncoutie is drifting four minutes behind the leading three.
Voigt, Roy and De Gendt keep their distances with 10 kms left.
Jeremy Roy, Jens Voigt and Thomas de Gendt retain a 35 seconds lead with 12 kms to go as the chase is led by teams Movistar and Rabobank.
Fifteen kilometres to go and the three leaders retain a 30-seconds lead over the chasing peloton.
The Movistar riders have seized the reins of the chase, followed by the Astana.
The peloton regroups and now trails the three leaders by 28 seconds with 20 kms to go.
France’s David Moncoutie (Cofidis) was dropped from the second part of the split bunch.
1. Thomas de Gendt (Belgium) Vacansoleil 3 seconds, 3 points
2. Jens Voigt (Germany) Leopard-Trek 2 secs, 2 pts
3. Jeremy Roy (France) FDJ 1 sec, 1 pt
The peloton 40 secs behind.
The main bunch split after the tempo rose sharply, creating a "bordure" (echelon).
The gap increased quickly and is now close to the minute.
Jens Voigt also won a stage on Paris-Nice, the 2005 prologue.
Injured in last week’s Boucles du Sud Ardeche, Jeremy Roy was not sure to start this Paris-Nice, a race he knows well, having won a stage in Vallon Pont d’Arc two years ago.
Km 115 - France’s Jeremy Roy (FDJ), Belgium’s Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil) and Germany’s Jens Voigt (Leopard Trek) have taken advantage of the junction to attack in turn.
Km 113 - Gaudin and Izagirre were caught after a 98-kms breakaway.
Km 112.5 - Damien Gaudin and Gorka Izagirre keep a slim 10-seconds lead over the peloton.
Among the sprinters to watch in case of a mass finish, Australia’s Matthew Goss (HTC-Highroad) is the most often cited after his wins in the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Oman. Garmin’s Heinrich Haussler, winner of two stages in the Tour of Qatar is also in form. France’s Romain Feillu was among the riders to shine early on with three wins in the Tour Mediterranean. But Peter Sagan, who lifted his arms three times in the Tour of Sardinia, will also be closely watched. New Zealand’s Gregory Henderson, Slovenia’s Grega Bole and Russia Denis Galimzyanov are also riders to look for.
With 42 kms to go, the lead of the two breakaways has gone down to 35 seconds.
38.9 kilometres were covered in the third hour of the race for an overall average speed of
Km 106 - Gaudin and Izagirre’s lead is now under the minute at exactly 55 seconds.
The bunch now 47 kms from the finish line and the lead is down to 1:05.
Martin Velits (HTC) and Sebastien Minard (AG2R) crashed but made it back
on their bikes.
Km 88 - The lead of Damien Gaudin and Gorka Izagirre is now down to two minutes.
Km 84 - The lead of the breakaway is now down to 2:25.
1. Damien Gaudin 3 secs, 3 points
2. Gorka Izagirre 2 secs, 2 points
3. Romain Feillu 1 sec, 1 pt
The last time Paris-Nice did not start with a prologue was in 1996 and the first stage between Chateauroux and St Amand Montrond was won by Frederic Moncassin ahead of Tom Steels and Wilfried Nelissen.
35.6 kilometres were covered in the second hour of the stage for an overall average speed of 33.6 kph.
Km 59 - Gaudin and Inzagirre now lead the bunch by 2:55.
Km 50 - Danny Pate (HTC) leads the bunch, who are now 3:15 behind the two escapees.
Km 45 - The lead goes down to 4:50 as the peloton, led by the HTC team-mates of favourite Tony Martin, speed up the chase.
Asked about the break involving his rider Damien Gaudin, Europcar team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau told www.letour.fr: "We’re going to keep the picture for Damien in polka-dot is rather unusual. If we had a couple of other riders of his type in the break, we could be hopeful. Now he’s in control and not overdoing it as the peloton are going fast. It’s too early to know what the outcome will be."
Km 33 - Gaudin and Izagirre lead the peloton by 8:15.
Km 27 - The two lead the bunch by 6:40.
The average speed in the first hour of the stage was 31.6 kph.
1. Damien Gaudin (France) Europcar 3 points
2. Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spain) Euskaltel 2 points
3. Romain Feillu (France) Vacansoleil 1 points
5:05 behind followed by the bunch.
Damien Gaudin was first at the top of the only climb of the day, the Cote de Septeuil (Km24.5). The Frenchman takes the best climber jersey.
Km 22 - Gaudin and Izagirre Insausti lead the bunch by 4:15.
Damien Gaudin, 24, won the under-23 Paris-Roubaix in 2007 and is a great track rider with several national titles. Gorka Izagirre Insausti comes from a cycling family. His brother Jon is also a pro rider while their father is former Spanish cyclo-cross champion.
The gap increases and reaches 1:55 after 17.5 kms.
Km 17 - Gaudin and Insausti now lead the peloton by 1:25.
Two riders decided to shake off the peloton. Damien Gaudin (Europcar) and Gorka Insausti (Euskaltel) attacked at kilometre 15. The first gap is 50 seconds.
Km 12 - The peloton is taking it easy on a bright and cold day in the Yvelines department.
38 riders are taking part in the young rider classification. The youngest rider in the field is Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, who is 21.
Km 81.5 – Houdan
Km 129.5 - Houdan
24.5 – Cote de Septeuil (3rd cat)
Interviewed in Le Parisien, Frenchman Thomas Voeckler said he thought a Frenchman had his chances: “There’s no real favourite standing out. Of course, there’s Frank Schleck or Sylvain Chavanel but there’s no rider of whom you think: that’s for him. As a result, it’s one of the few races a French rider can win because the hierarchy is not the same as in July.”
In L’Equipe, Philippe Bouvet compares young Slovak Peter Sagan to seven times winner Sean Kelly of Ireland:
“There is something of Kelly in the young Slovak from Liquigas, 21, revealed last year with two swashbuckling victories (Aurillac and Aix) and irresistible in hilly finishes. It remains to be seen now whether he’s just a rider with phenomenal punch or even better.”
The start has been given to 176 riders.
176 riders are at the start, representing 35 nations, as follows:
United States 7
South Africa 1
Netherlands Antilles 1
New Zealand 1
Czech Republic 1
Welcome on the 69th edition of Paris-Nice. The Race to the Sun starts for once without a prologue but with a 154.5-kms 1st stage from Houdan to Houdan, south-west of Paris.