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Astana, Saxo Bank at odds over Nice tactics

Jean-François Quénet
March 17, 2009, 0:00 GMT,
April 22, 2009, 18:12 BST
First Edition Cycling News, March 17, 2009
Alberto Contador (Astana) in the breakaway

Alberto Contador (Astana) in the breakaway

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By Jean-François Quénet Tactics to modify the overall classification or defend position on...

By Jean-François Quénet

Tactics to modify the overall classification or defend position on Paris-Nice's final stage has caused a stir between teams, namely Astana and Saxo Bank. During Eurosport's live commentary Astana's directeur sportif Alain Gallopin was critical over Saxo Bank's choice to chase hard alongside race leader Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) behind Alberto Contador's breakaway.

The winner of three Grand Tours was the virtual race leader at one point on the final stage, with his three-man break taking a 2.30 minute advantage. The gap was eventually reduced to 17 seconds at the end on the Promenade des Anglais.

"It's Saxo Bank's defeat today," Gallopin repeated after the race. "I went up to [Saxo Bank's directeur sportif] Kim Andersen and I told him that finishing second, third or fourth was the same thing. Had they waited for the gap to be bigger, they would have counter-attacked Sánchez and Fränk Schleck could have won Paris-Nice."

Saxo Bank's defensive tactic earned Schleck second place overall behind Sanchez. Saxo Bank's second directeur sportif Bradley McGee found it easy to answer Gallopin's allegations.

"I'm a fan of Gallopin as a directeur sportif," said McGee, who rode under Gallopin at Française des Jeux in the early part of his professional career. "But it seems they made a tactical error in attacking from so far out. He should have done it later at a more appropriate time where the other teams couldn't get organised to chase.

"They have made mistakes during the whole week of Paris-Nice, so did everyone including ourselves. But one shouldn't blame others for their own mistakes, and ultimately the results of the race were correct."

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