By Hedwig Kröner
The 65th edition of the 'Race to the Sun' promised to be a spectacular one even weeks before the event, and finally fulfilled the expectations - fortunately not because of the ongoing row between the UCI and the Grand Tour organisers, but because of some real racing action.
Discovery Channel's Alberto Contador delivered a great show in the last stage around Nice, taking his second stage win at the event and the yellow jersey from Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin. Merely six seconds had separated the two men before the stage, and Discovery Channel had to make the race as hard as it possibly could from the start - which it did.
Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer and Yaroslav Popovych did the bulk of the murderous pacemaking on the famous Col de la Porte and Col de la Turbie, and put Contador in perfect attacking position at the foot of the Col d'Eze. "We saw that Rebellin was left without teammates and had trouble following, so that was the strategy," said the young Spaniard in the finish. "I knew I had to go flat out, and fortunately our tactics were succesful."
The 24 year-old then made up his missing seconds on Rebellin on the last climb, and was able to hold his advantage in the descent and the final flat kilometres in Nice. For Contador, who already escaped death in 2004 when he fell into a coma because of cerebral aneurysm, his fearless descent to victory was a dream come true.
"This is my first victory of a ProTour race, in which I have moreover won two stages, so it's complete fulfillment - the most important victories of my career so far," he added. The Discovery Channel rider is the second Soaniard to win Paris-Nice after Miguel Indurain - an indication of his great class as a rider? After Sunday's achievements, Contador sure looks like he has a very bright future ahead of him.