The peloton en route to Nice in stage 7 (AFP/Getty Images)
Paris-Nice: De Gendt takes stage; Leipheimer crashes out of contention
Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) soloed to victory on stage 7 of Paris-Nice on a day that saw Levi Leipheimer’s overall challenge unravel on the long descent of the Col de Vence. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) retains the yellow jersey ahead of Sunday’s concluding time trial on the slopes of the Col d’Eze, and his task of sealing overall honours seems rather more straightforward now that Leipheimer is no longer within striking distance.
De Gendt was part of an early break in the company of Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) and the pair quickly established a lead in excess of 12 minutes over a peloton that was more than content to let them to it. On the slopes of the Col de Vence, De Gendt pulled away from the Estonian and went to reach the Promenade des Angalis over six minutes clear, while John Degenkolb (Project 1t4i) led the peloton home all of 9:24 behind.
“Taaramae was an ideal ally. On the Col de Vence he tried to drop me, but I felt so much stronger than him,” De Gendt said. ““At the moment, everyone on the team is in good form. It was a nice stage and a nice finish.”
Wiggins one day away from victory or defeat in Paris-Nice?
While De Gendt and Taaramae were locked in their private duel up front, there was scarcely a murmur from the overall contenders on the way up the 9-kilometre climb as Team Sky controlled affairs in support of Wiggins. With 54 largely downhill kilometres then separating the summit of the Col de Vence from the finish, it appeared as though what had already been a low-key stage would simply peter out on the road to Nice.
The script was altered slightly on the way down, however, as Leipheimer fell twice on the descent and surrendered all hopes of a high overall finish. The veteran American first lost ground when he took a tumble as the peloton slowed to tackle a sharp left hand bend with 31km to go.
With Leipheimer out of the equation, the closest threat to Wiggins is Dutchman Lieuwe Westra, who is just six seconds off the pace going into tomorrow’s Col d’Eze mountain time trial.
Tirreno-Adriatico: Sagan prevails in Chieti; Horner leads overall
Peter Sagan took advantage of Liquigas-Cannondale’s hard work and won the mountainous fourth stage of Tirenno-Adriatico, while RadioShack-Nissan’s Christopher Horner crossed the finish line in the five-man lead group to take the leader’s jersey.
Astana’s Roman Kreuziger and Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas-Cannondale took second and third on the stage, which featured a taxing uphill finale into Chieti’s city center. Danilo Di Luca (Acqua Sapone) and Horner rounded out the lead group which contested the stage four finale.
Kreuziger moved up to second overall, only seven seconds behind Horner, while Cameron Meyer (GreenEdge) holds third on general classification at 13 seconds.
Matthew Goss (GreenEdge), who held the blue leader’s jersey since stage one, lost contact with the leaders on the day’s many climbs and surrendered the general classification lead to Horner.