Top five placings in the 219.5-kms 7th stage of Paris-Nice between Sisteron and Nice:
1. Thomas De Gendt (Belgium, VCD)
2. Rein Taaramae (Estonia, COF) 6:18 behind
3. John Degenkolb (Germany, PRO) 9:24
4. Greg Henderson (New Zealand, LTB)
5. Thor Hushovd (Norway, BMC) same time
Germany’s John Degenkolb (PRO) took third place, 9:25 adrift.
A dejected Levi Leipheimer looked like he was about to call it quits but he now tries to limit the damage, 16:25 behind De Gendt.
Rein Taaramae (COF) takes second place, 6:17 behind De Gendt.
Bradley Wiggins’s Sky team-mates are leading the peloton into Nice.
Belgian Thomas De Gendt (VCD) won the 219.5-kms 7th stage in Nice.
With two kilometres to go, De Gendt leads Taaramae by 5:35 and the peloton by 11:00.
De Gendt is three kilometres away from his second stage victory in Paris-Nice after the first stage in Houdan a year ago.
Omega Pharma Quick Step team director Brian Holm admitted it was now over for Leipheimer: "It’s over now. We set a record for crashes on the Col de Vence. It’s sad," he told France Televisions.
and the gap between De Gendt and the peloton is 10:40.
and De Gendt leads Taaramae by 3:30. The main bunch are 10:50 behind.
Movistar led the peloton for all the descent as much to reduce the gap on the escapees as to drop Leipheimer.
The American is back on his bike but Paris-Nice is lost for the Omega Pharma Quick Step team leader.
km 187 - Leipheimer crashes again with Dries Devenyns into a motorcycle.
and Thomas De Gendt leads Rein Taaramae by 2:50. The peloton 11:10 adrift.
Leipheimer could lose his third place overall. He is currently 50 seconds behind the peloton and chasing hard.
Leipheimer, helped by four team-mates, is still chasing behind the bunch.
The peloton splits in the descent. Veuchelen is among those dropped.
and De Gendt leads Taaramae by 2:35 and the peloton by 11:15.
Alejandro Valverde’s Movistar team-mates lead the chase in the descent to Nice.
Km 182 - Levi Leipheimer (OPQ) is against caught in a crash, with France’s Pierrick Fedrigo among others. All the riders in the crash are back on their bikes.
1. De Gendt 10 points
2. Taaramae 8 pts 12 seconds behind
3. Mate 6 pts 11:35 behind
4. Veuchelen 4 pts
5. Sivtsov (SKY) 3 pts
6. Lagutin 5VCD) 2 pts
7. Thomas (SKY) 1 pt all same time
Km 175 - De Gendt now leads Taaramae by 1:15.
Thomas De Gendt (VCD) is increasing his lead on Rein Taaramae (COF): 25 seconds.
Thomas De Gendt (VCD) is first at the top, followed by Rein Taaramae, 12 seconds behind.
Stephen Roche has bad memories of the Col de Vence in the 1987 race: "It was not the difficulty of the climb but a puncture just before the summit. I was forced to stop going down and to wait for the car. I went down like a madman trying to catch the peloton but there had been a break in the meantime. Upfront, Sean Kelly, Charly Mottet and Jean-Francois Bernard had gone. I found myself alone trying to bridge the gap but they did not falter. They knew the race was turning round. I lost the overall lead but I reacted with panache by winning the time trial in the afternoon."
The average speed in the fourth hour of the stage was 37.9 kph. The overall average speed was 40.9 kph.
De Gendt leads the peloton by 11:20 in Col de Vence.
Taaramae twice tried to drop De Gent but the Belgian reacted swiftly and has now parted with the Estonian.
In the last passage of Paris-Nice on Col de Vence two years ago, Xavier Tondo had used the climb to break from a group of 23 escapees. He had reached the top in the front and gone all the way to snatch stage victory in Tourrettes.
The battle starts on Col de Vence and several riders are dropped by the peloton.
1. De Gendt 3 points, 3 seconds
2. Taaramae 2 points, 2 seconds
3. Tom Boonen (OPQ) 1 point, 1 sec 11:50 behind
The peloton in the same time as Boonen
Km 150 - The race is nearing Tourrettes-sur-Loup, finish of a Paris-Nice stage won by Xavier Tondo two years ago.
Km 134 - Evgeni Petrov (AST), who was chasing behind the two escapees, was caught by the peloton.
Levi Leipheimer is back in the peloton, helped by two team-mates.
Levi Leipheimer (RNT) was involved in a crash with Spain’s Adrian Saez (EUS) but is quickly back on his bike.
The average speed in the third hour was 37.5 kph. The overall average speed was 41.9 kph.
Km 108 - Taaramae and De Gendt lead the peloton, led by seven Team Sky riders, by 12:35.
Two years ago, while his team-mate Amael Moinard won the final stage in Nice, Rein Taaramae had finished fourth in the stage, his best result on the race, and 7th overall. Thomas De Gendt last year won the first stage.
At the top of Cote de Peyroules (km 99), the peloton, led by Team Sky riders, trails the escapees by 12:40.
1. De Gendt 7
2. Taaramae 5
3. Evgeni Petrov (AST) 3 10:45 behind
Km 95 - The two now lead the peloton by 12:10.
1. De Gendt 7
2. Taaramae 5
3. Evgeni Petrov (AST) 3 10:50 behind
4. Veuchelen 2 12:00 behind
5. Mate 1
Spain’s Peio Bilbao (EUS) also called it quits.
Denis Menchov (KAT) just gave up.
Evgeni Petrov (AST) broke from the peloton to chase behind the two escapees.
Km 87.5 - Taaramae and De Gendt lead the bunch by 12 minutes.
Km 88 - The two lead the peloton by 10:20.
The average speed in the second hour was 37.9 kph. The overall average speed was 44 kph.
Frederik Veuchelen (VCD) now has a 37 points lead in the mountain classification while only 31 points are on offer until the finish on Col d’Eze.
1. De Gendt 7
2. Taaramae 5
3. Frederik Veuchelen (VCD) 3 8:25 behind
4. Bjorn Leukemans (VCD) 2
5. Luis Angel Mate (COF) 1
One kilometre from the top of the Col des Leques (Km 72.5), Taaramae and De Gendt lead the peloton by 8:15.
Km 63 - Taaramae and De Gendt lead the main bunch by 2:40.
Km 59 - Taaramae and De Gendt lead the bunch by 1:05.
Km 56 - Thomas De Gendt (VCD) and Rein Taaramae (COF) lead the peloton by 20 seconds.
The average speed in the first hour of the race was 50.3 kph.
Km 48 - Rein Taamarae (COF), Thomas De Gendt (VCD) parted with the peloton.
149 riders are stil in the race from the 176 at the start. Team Lotto-Belisol, affected by a virus, is the hardest hit with only four riders left while six teams are still complete: Omega Pharma Quick Step,
Movistar, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Team Europcar, Garmin-Barracuda,
Several riders have been dropped, including ace sprinter Marcel Kittel (PRO).
Rein Taaramae (COF) crashed but is back on his bike and chasing behind the peloton.
Km 36 - Several attempts involve Europcar riders. Thomas Voeckler probably has thoughts about this stage.
Local paper Nice-Matin interviewed Amael Moinard (BMC) about today’s stage. The Frenchman won on the Promenade des Anglais in 2010 and trains often on the roads on the day’s course: "I don’t see a mass sprint. In the same time, Col de Vence is too far from the finish to be decisive. For a rider to have a chance, he will have to reach the top with a two minutes lead at least, because it’s very fast afterwards, in the Var valley or in the finale to Nice, and it will be easy for the peloton to regroup. "
Km 24 - Several unsuccessful attempts took place and the peloton is still together.
Germany’s Christian Knees (SKY) has given up.
Cofidis team director Stephane Auge said he hoped for his riders to animate the race today: "We have the feeling a break can go all the way today, like yesterday. It’s the last chance. We have a couple of riders weakened by a virus and Di Gregorio did not start. Rein Taaramae and Samuel Dumoulin were affected too, but Samuel feels better now. We tried to work for him in case of a sprint but it didn’t work. All our riders are hoping to join a break today. As for the polka-dot jersey, we saw that Vacansoleil count on it and they will do everything to stop us get us so we gave up."
Nicholas Roche (ALM) said on his Twitter profile he was especially motivated by today’s stage: "Extra motivated for today. My family will be at the finish. Only a couple of times a year races finish in places I have lived."
Denmark’s Lars Bak (LTB) is one of the five riders who did not start while Eros Capecchi (LIQ) actually remains in the race.
Roy Curvers (PRO), involved in one of the long breaks of this Paris-Nice, has given up.
The sun is shining in Nice and the temperature is 18 degrees.
Asked about Garmin-Barracuda’s ambitions in this last weekend of Paris-Nice, team director Bingen Fernandez admitted his team’s chances were slim, notably after Christophe Le Mevel’s crash in stage 3: "We were very unlucky on this Paris-Nice. I can say we started it the wrong way. We were the ones who launched the echelon in stage 2 but we couldn’t take advantage of it. Then Christophe Le Mevel crashed. He was very motivated, he lives nearby, he had trained especially on Col d’Eze. He will try his best but his back is very sore. We really thought about retiring him from the race because we feared something was broken. We’re glad that he’s just finishing the race. "
Even though Heinrich Haussler won the bunch sprint in Sisteron, Fernandez said he was not too optimistic about his chances today in Nice: "The stage is harder than yesterday. To me it suits more a sprinter who climbs well like Jose Joaquin Rojas."
The start was given at 12:15 to 151 riders.
In l’Equipe stage 6 winner Luis Leon Sanchez explained how he had struggled a bit last season to settle into his new Rabobank team: "Settling in last season was not easy. It was the first time I was riding abroad and the language barrier was a problem. But since the start of this season, I know what I want and everything’s different."
Bradley Wiggins (SKY) retained his yellow jersey and his six seconds lead over Ducthman Lueuwe Westra (VCD), while Levi Leipheimer (RNT) lies 10 seconds adrift.
The green jersey remained on the shoulders of Alejandro Valverde (MOV), who limited the damage after being trapped in an echelon early in stage 6. The Spaniard leads Wiggins by seven points and Westra by 11.
Frederik Veuchelen (VCD) increased his lead in the mountain classification by joining the break of the day on the road to Sisteron and collecting 19 points. Thirty eight points are up for grabs in the last weekend of the race and the Belgian leads Luis Angel Mate (COF) and David Le Lay (SAU) by 35 points so the polka-dot jersey is not virtually secured.
The young rider’s white jersey still belongs to Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) ahead of Team Sky’s Rigoberto Uran.
Omega Pharma Quick Step still lead the teams classification.
Km 73.5 - Col des Leques (2nd cat)
Km 91 - Col de Luens (2nd cat)
Km 99 - Cote de Peyroules (3rd cat)
Km 165 - Col de Vence (1st cat)
Km 150 - Tourrettes-sur-Loup
151 riders started. The real start will be given after a 7.5-kms ride through Sisteron.
Remy Di Gregorio (COF), winner of a stage in Biot last year, will not start. He suffers from the stomach bug ravaging the peloton.
Leigh Howard (GEC), Remy Di Gregorio (COF), Marcus Burghardt (BMC), Lars Bak (LTB) and Jimmy Engoulvent (SAU).
Welcome on the 219.5-kms 7th stage of Paris-Nice between Sisteron and Nice.