Eleven years after his overall victory in the Race to the Sun, Andreas Kloeden won the 193-kms 5th stage of Paris-Nice after a great team effort by his Radio-Shack team-mates in an exciting ride in the Ardeche hills.The two-times Tour de France runner-up, in 2004 and 2006, outsprinted his seven breakaway companions to cross the line in Vernoux-in-Vivarais ahead of Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) and little-known Italian Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil).The win is a significant one ahead of a 27-kms individual time-trial in Aix-en-Provence which could be an all-German affair as Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) finished fourth in the stage.The decisive move took place in the descent of the scary Col de la Mure, nine kilometres from the finish, when eight riders broke clear, never to be seen again. In the finale, Kloeden was able to count on team-mate Janez Brajkovic, who perfectly set him up for sprint victory.
The start was given at 11:55 and the pace was very fast from the gun, causing a few riders to be dropped or call it quits (De Weert, Offredo). Several attempts took place early on but all failed. Remi Pauriol (FDJ) and Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) did not miss their early chances to strengthen their respective jerseys. The polka-dot jersey holder was first at the top of Cote des Ayats (3rd cat, km 29) and Haussler won the Kivilev Memorial in St Chamond (km 38). The battle started in the Col de la Croix de Chaubouret, which saw Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R), Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and a few other riders launch an unsuccessful attempt. Dutchman Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) took advantage of the move to break on his own.
He crossed the line in front with a 35 seconds lead over a group of four men: Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ), David Lopez-Garcia (Movistar), Hubert Dupont (AG2R) and Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervelo). Romain Hardy (Bretagne-Schuller) joined the four in the descent (km 68) and they caught Westra soon afterwards.
FDJ and Astana lift the gauntlet
The six held a maximum lead of 4:10 shortly before Annonay (km 79). The gap kept going down as teams RadioShack and Rabobank led the chase, maintaining a margin of around two minutes.
The pace increased again in the Col de Montreynaud (2nd cat, km 136) when Dupont, Westra and Lopez-Garcia dropped their three other breakaway companions. At the front of the peloton, several prominent riders tried to bridge the gap – Sandy Casar and Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ) and Jens Voigt (Leopard-Trek) – before being reined in in the Côte de Vernoux (km 143).
In the Col de Comberon (km 150) Westra dropped Lopez-Garcia, then Dupont but the Frenchman came back in the descent, quickly followed by the main pack. Shortly after the junction, FDJ riders seized the peloton’s reins and imposed a hell of a pace in the descent. Arthur Vichot crashed in the process (km 160) and was forced to give up. The move placed four FDJ men in a seven-man breakaway which included Pierrick Fedrigo, Sandy Casar, Cedric Pineau, Jeremy Roy (all FDJ) Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Simon Spilak (Lampre) and Yuri Trofimov (Katusha).
But the seven were caught at the bottom of the last climb, the gruelling Col de la Mure. Astana took the reins over from FDJ and after attempts by Remy Di Gregorio and Roman Kreuziger, their team-mate Robert Kiserlovski of Croatia broke with Italy’s Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil).
Brajkovic sets up Kloeden
The two were caught near the summit by Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), who reached the top in the front. In the descent, a group of eight emerged: Tony Martin (THR), Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil), Xavier Tondo (Movistar), Robert Kiserlovski (Astana), Andreas Kloeden and Janez Brajkovic (both RadioShack), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel). Led by Martin and Brajkovic, the group maintained a 20 seconds lead over the closest chasing bunch and were left to battle it out in the finale. Brajkovic, the 2010 Dauphine Libere winner, launched the sprint for Kloeden and lifted his arms in the air, seeing his team-mate had made it.
Thanks to Janez Brajkovic, he led the sprint very well. I didn’t think I could beat Samuel Sanchez in a sprint. It’s a great performance by the whole team and it’s a victory by the team. I had good legs, I tried to stay with the best in the climb. Janez was there with me and there were other good riders like Martin and we were hoping to win the stage. For sure, we’ll try to defend the jersey but we’ll see from day to day. Tomorrow is a hard time trial and also the last four days were very hard and nervous. I hope the legs stay like this and I can also do a good time trial.
Germany’s Andreas Kloeden (RadioShack) win the 193-kms 5th stage of Paris-Nice ahead of Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) and Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil).
and Tony Martin leads the way, followed by Samuel Sanchez.
Tony Martin (THR), Xavier Tondo (Movistar), Robert Kiserlovski (Astana), Andreas Kloeden (RadioShack) and Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) lead a second group including Roman Kreuziger, Jurgen Van den Broeck and Simon Spilak by 16 seconds.
.and the eight lead Simon Spilak (Lampre) by 14 seconds and a first bunch by 24 seconds.
are Tony Martin (THR), Xavier Tondo (Movistar), Robert Kiserlovski (Astana), Andreas Kloeden (RadioShack) and Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel).