Weekend stages to decide overall
09 March 2012

Paris-Nice (s6) / Tirreno (s3)

A long mountain stage in the back of the Côte d'Azur and Sunday's mountain time trial up the Col d'Eze will close the race. Ventoso contests the win at Tirreno-Adriatico

The 70th edition of Paris-Nice will end this weekend with the two closing stages finishing at the capital city of the Côte d’Azur, after day six in the Course au Soileil did not see any overall changes, with Wiggins (SKY), Westra (VCD) and Leipheimer (OPQ) on top as Alejandro Valverde keeps his fourth place, 18 seconds back to the Briton following a hard ride for the Spaniard. The initial part of the 178k course from Suze-la-Rousse to Sisteron saw the telephone squad taking full charge of the situation to get back a gap created by a 28-rider group not featuring six of the race’s best ten, but having the top three on front.

After a 40-kilometer pursuit, Valverde and his team-mates made the bridge possible, just before a seven man jump containing the survivors of the day, Luis León Sánchez (RAB, 1st) and Jens Voigt (RNT, 2nd), who contested the triumph via a two-up sprint fourteen seconds over the bunch. Saturday will see the first showdown -a 10k mountain TT up the Col d’Eze awaits on Sunday- for the GC riders: a long 220k trek with the ascents of Lèques (Cat. 2), Luens (Cat. 2) and Peyroules (Cat. 3), plus the tough Col de Vence (Cat. 1, 10k, 6’5%), just 50k from the mythical finish in the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

Ventoso 8th at Tirreno-Adriatico bunch sprint
After being left with no option into the first mass sprint of the 47th Tirreno-Adriatico on Thursday, Fran Ventoso did contest the victory in the volata making the end of stage 3 in the race, with 178 kilometers from Arezzo to Terni. The fastman from Movistar Team fought into the last two k’s for a good position before the cobbled, ascending sprint, where he stood into the lead for a hundred meters with Boasson Hagen (SKY), Greipel (LTB) and Sagan (LIQ), the top three finishers of the day.

However, the Spaniard paid from his efforts at the final fifty meters, suffering from a loose right pedal due to a whole in the pavement and crossing the line in 8th place, just two places behind Australian Matthew Goss (GEC), still on top of the overall. The race will cross the Appenines tomorrow with a first mountain contact on stage four, a tremendously long 252 kilometers from Amelia to Chieti, with the Valico della Forchetta -the Passo Lanciano won’t be done due to snow- being the big obstacle before the ups and downs prior to the finish.