Young Dutchman Posthuma takes stage
There were no real challenges to Bobby Julich's yellow and white leader's jersey in today's sixth stage of Paris-Nice. Julich's seven CSC teammates rode in perfect formation for the whole stage, protecting Julich and not using too much energy in light of tomorrow's tough finale. Although the Saunier Duval riders repeatedly tried to break the rhythm of the CSC train on the climbs, they could not succeed and Julich conceded no time to his nearest rivals today.
"My team rode perfectly today," said Julich after the finish. "I think it's been eight years since I've had a leader's jersey. This is the best day I could hoped for. I was super strong, the team was super strong, Jens Voigt was super strong. We have one more objective: to win Paris-Nice."
Julich is looking forward to tomorrow's finish on Nice's famous Promenade des Anglais. "I know the promenade very well," he smiled. "My base is in Nice, France. I don't really live there, as we're in and out of the country all the time. But I'm at least half Niçoise now. I know every single one of the climbs tomorrow, so I'm very confident."
CSC used smart tactics today to allow a non-threatening eight man breakaway to go clear after 5 km, letting them stay out there all day. Jörg Ludewig (Domina Vacanze) was the best placed rider in the break on GC at 6'43, so CSC simply kept the gap at around 5-6 minutes, until the end of the stage when they rode a little harder to reduce the threat.
Although Ludewig looked to be the strongest rider in the break, he was perhaps too strong and attacked with 35 km to go. He managed to take a 30 second lead before the final climb of the Col du Tanneron, but then Dutchman Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) sprang out of the chase group and bridged up to the German. On the descent, he dropped Ludewig and powered away to the finish line along the beachfront in Cannes to take his biggest victory to date. It was a reward for saving his strength and then using it at the right time, and it capped off a great day for Rabobank, whose World Champion Oscar Freire took his third successive stage win in Tirreno-Adriatico and is now the outright favourite for Milan-San Remo next weekend.