Paris - Nice 2012

March 4-11, 2012, Dampierre-en-Yvelines, Fra, Road - WorldTour

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Daniel Benson

Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from Paris-Nice. Today's stage is from Onet-le-Chateau to Mende.

  1. 85km remaining from 178km

    12:45:09 GMT

    Just to bring you up to date. We've 85 kilometers remaining in the stage, and the final, climb up to Mende. We should see fireworks today.

  2. 12:46:47 GMT

    I'm on Twitter, so ping me your thoughts and questions throughout the stage and I'll do my best to answer them.

  3. 12:48:41 GMT

    • Climb

    Right now the peloton are on the Cote de la Malene and there's a break up the road with an advantage of over 6 minutes. We'll bring you the names in just a second.

  4. 12:52:16 GMT

    We've climbed up to Mende twice in recent years. In 2009 and 2007. On both occasions Alberto Contador danced away from the competition, winning both stages and both editions of the race.

  5. 12:53:29 GMT

    And you can watch a video of the final ascent right here. Thanks to for providing the footage.

  6. 12:54:45 GMT

    • GreenEdge Cycling Team's 2012 Jersey

    So to the break and we've got Simon Clarke (GreenEdge), Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil), Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and David Le Lay (Saur-Sojasun) and they've got 6:40 on the bunch.

    GreenEdge of course won the TTT in Tirreno yesterday with a sumptuous performance against the clock.

  7. 12:57:39 GMT

    The four leaders broke free after just two kilometers of racing.

    And apologies it was 2010 and 2007, the years Contador won in Mende.

    Valverde was second on the last occasion and he's a strong bet for today's finish. I'm not quite sure, he looked sluggish yesterday, on a stage finish that should have suited him. He's of course already won a stage in the race so he has form.

  8. 13:06:13 GMT

    Veuchelen led over the climb, collecting 10 points. Le Lay was next over with Arashiro and Clarke following.

    Thomas De Gendt, who lost his lead in the KOM yesterday, led the peloton over the top, 6 minutes back.

  9. 13:10:00 GMT

    • Red Polka Dot Jersey

    Mate (Cofidis) still leads the KOM competition with 20 points but it's far from over, with four more climbs today we could easily see the jersey change hands for the third day in a row.

  10. 13:11:24 GMT

    And here's where we stand on GC at present.

    1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 13:30:52
    2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:06
    3 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:11
    4 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:14
    5 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:18
    6 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
    7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:20
    8 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:29
    9 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha Team 0:00:33
    10 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Astana Pro Team 0:00:36

  11. 13:21:24 GMT

    And the leaders are cresting the top of the Cote du Cayla, a third category climb. From there they'll sweep down towards the 1st cat climb of the Cote de l'Estrade.

    We can expect the teams like Omega, Sky, Movistar to use that as key moment in the race - either to throw riders up the road or to set the pace and position their leaders. they'll still have two more climbs to come but it will be a decisive moment in the race.

  12. 13:26:03 GMT

    Watch out for Alexandre Geniez (Project 1T4i) today. The race started near his home and he could be an outside bet for the finish in Mende. Alexandre Geniez (Skil - Shimano) gets aero.

  13. 13:30:24 GMT

    And what of BMC? They also have two riders in the top ten with Monfort and Van Garderen. Both riders can climb so it will be interesting to see how they handle the final climb. Perhaps they lack the acceleration of Valverde but both are capable of riding with the best today.

  14. 13:35:32 GMT

    Not only do I habitually get Monfort's nationality incorrect (whenever I interview him I think he's French) I've now gone one step further and got his team wrong.

  15. 13:37:37 GMT

    And so you all know, Inrng's latest CN blog will appear on the site after today's stage. It's a cracker.

  16. 55km remaining from 178km

    13:40:54 GMT

    The gap is down, slightly, to 5:50

  17. 13:42:59 GMT

    Gavazzi has great form, his results this week speak for themselves, I think he's had 3 top 10 finishes. Mende is a different type of finish so Kiserlovski may fair better. He's not won a race for a couple of years though but his top 20 performance in last year's Vuelta shows he has talent.

  18. 50km remaining from 178km

    13:50:33 GMT

    50km to go and the lead is down to 5:15 as the peloton begin to slowly take charge the race.

  19. 13:54:15 GMT

    Wiggins is comfortably sitting behind his train from Sky, who have raced so well this week. Their job will be to keep the race together for as long as possible. Wiggins, depending on how strong he is, will need to pay attention to the likes of Valverde.

    Last year in the Dauphine we saw that he often let riders attack but would then slowly grind his way back up to them. That could be the tactic for today.

  20. 13:54:59 GMT

    The gap is plummeting. It's down to 4:40 now, with BMC on the front, working for Van Garderen.

  21. 13:57:53 GMT

    The break have responded with a bit more urgency, but BMC is setting a furious pace.

  22. 14:01:16 GMT

    Movistar and BMC sharing the pace. This is perfect for Sky, huddled around Wiggins near the front of the bunch, but not having to do much of the work.

  23. 14:09:21 GMT

    It will be a huge challenge for the bunch as they fly down the final descent and then quickly throw their legs into the small ring and then start climbing. Positioning and acceleration will be key, before the climb kicks up severely with 3km to go.

  24. 14:10:38 GMT

    A number of riders being dropped from the main field, including Thor Hushovd.

  25. 14:12:08 GMT

    Our friends over at Eurosport have just announced that Sandy Casar (FDJ) didn't start this morning.

  26. 14:12:59 GMT

    And it looks like Ten Dam is leading a small group of the front of the bunch, with the gap now at 2:35.

  27. 14:13:59 GMT

    More and more riders dropped from the back of the bunch. Sep Vanmarcke one of them. Thomas Dekker dropped with him.

  28. 14:14:39 GMT

    Seeldrayers is the man with Ten Dam.

  29. 14:14:53 GMT

    Gerrans also dropped.

  30. 34km remaining from 178km

    14:16:19 GMT

    Movistar has shredded the bunch and we're down to maybe 50 riders on this penultimate climb.

  31. 14:17:11 GMT

    • Movistar Team's 2012 Jersey

    José Ivan Gutierrez is doing most of the damage.

  32. 33km remaining from 178km

    14:17:46 GMT

    The lead to the four man break is down to just 2:15

  33. 14:20:43 GMT

    Gerrans and a few more riders have made it back to the bunch, De Gendt is near the front, presumably to try and snaffle up a few points in the KOM.

    Seeldrayers and Ten Dam are still together but they've only got around 150 meters on the Movistar-led bunch.

  34. 14:27:45 GMT

    Mate is watching De Gendt near the front of the field, he clearly wants to remaining contention.

    And  De Gendt attacks. Mate tries to go with him and then gives up, allowing De Gendt to some of the remaining points.

  35. 14:28:44 GMT

    Kadri crashed earlier and has been taken to hospital. We're hearing that his injuries are not serious.

  36. 14:33:16 GMT

    Movistar still plugging away on the front but Lampre are also moving up, Cunego must fancy his chances for today.

  37. 14:34:05 GMT

    The Ten Dam group have 50 seconds on the bunch but a number of Movistar riders have moved up since we're on the flat roads heading to Mende. 26km to go.

  38. 14:36:00 GMT

    Valverde, in green is sitting 5th in line, Rojas infront of him. RadioShack are mustering their challenge, grouping together on the left and inching forward. Sky give them a stare and up their pedal speed.

  39. 14:37:18 GMT

    Gerrans is at the back of the bunch. I still think he could be in the mix today. He was dropped on the last climb but he may have been saving his legs, hoping that it would come together.

  40. 14:40:11 GMT

    Unlike previous stages, we've not seen anything from Omega so far. Chavanel and Leipheimer are both in the top ten and will be looking for strong rides today. Leipheimer the better climber of the two.

  41. 14:41:21 GMT

    Yesterday Movistar did too much work too soon but they're on the front again, Valverde looking for vital time bonuses on offer at the finish.

  42. 19km remaining from 178km

    14:43:30 GMT

    Wonderful scenery here on the road to Mende but there's no rest of the bunch or the break for that matter. The leading four riders are still together, and still working. They've got 1:35 on the peloton with 19km to go.

  43. 14:45:25 GMT

    Gutierrez has been on the front for nearly 20km. Surely he'll swing off soon, his job done for the day

  44. 14:46:30 GMT

    Here come Astana and Chavanel with his Omega team. RadioShack also moving up.

  45. 14:47:59 GMT

    Monfort is very near the front, Frank Schleck is two wheels back, Cunego is there too. Valverde of course, and Wiggins, who is about 20 riders back.

  46. 14:51:27 GMT

    Wiggins, in yellow, is a lot closer to the front now, with three teammates in front of him.

    The gap to the leading break is at 1:28. Wiggins wont mind that one bit. If they stay away it means the likes of Valverde can't pick up time bonuses on the line.

  47. 12km remaining from 178km

    14:52:05 GMT

    12km to go and the gap is 1:28

  48. 11km remaining from 178km

    14:54:51 GMT

    -11km to go and the gap is under a minute. 55 seconds to be exact.

  49. 14:56:02 GMT

    Movistar are still on the the front but the pace has eased slightly with the peloton spread across the road. Gerrans still right at the back.

  50. 14:56:27 GMT

    Gerrans of course crashed yesterday so maybe today is all about survival for him.

  51. 14:57:17 GMT

    Around 50-60 riders in the main peloton, once we hit the final climb. Up ahead and the four leaders are still together.

  52. 14:58:35 GMT

    Seeldrayers and Ten Dam are about to make contact with the four leaders. That's good riding from those two as they've had to work very hard to close that gap.

  53. 14:59:34 GMT

    Ten Dam leads Seeldrayers and now we've got six at the front at 4o seconds. Movistar still on the front. If they want those bonus seconds they'll need to close that gap soon.

  54. 15:00:37 GMT

    The road begins to point upwards and Katusha make an appearance on the front for the first time.

  55. 15:01:17 GMT

    Mate, meanwhile, has been dropped. A little wave to the camera on his way out the back.

  56. 8km remaining from 178km

    15:01:46 GMT

    And it's all coming back together with 8km to go.

  57. 15:05:12 GMT

    It's a very fast descent into Mende before the final 3km climb. Movistar, back on the front again, with 7.5km remaining.

  58. 15:07:14 GMT

    The peloton flex in two directions as they sweep through some road furniture,just to go. Veuchelen is still out there but on his own.

  59. 15:07:47 GMT

    He's on the lower slopes but he's only got a few seconds. Astana setting the pace.

  60. 15:08:33 GMT

    Veuchelen out of the saddle, trying everything to hold on but the bunch are just behind him. It's almost all over.

  61. 15:09:10 GMT

    Caught with 3km to go and Porte on the front, Leipheimer is near the front and looking good at the moment.

  62. 15:09:43 GMT

    Porte still setting the pace for Wiggins who is about 10th wheel. The Australian has really strung them out.

  63. 15:10:29 GMT

    Porte looks very, very strong and he's making it very hard, Levi is third wheel a Rojas blows.

  64. 15:10:43 GMT

    Taaramae is dropped.

  65. 15:10:55 GMT

    Wiggins and Van Garderen move up, with Levi.

  66. 15:11:19 GMT

    Wiggins right onto Porte's wheel. Perfect for Sky so far. Martin has now been dropped.

  67. 15:11:46 GMT

    2km to go and Wiggins is in second wheel. Porte, Wiggins, Levi, TJ.

  68. 15:13:02 GMT

    Around one of the steepest corners and still no major attacks. Has Porte done enough? He's still on the front, riders popping off the back one by one. Le Mevel, the next one to go.

    As Porte pushes on the pedals again. Cunego is up there. Valverde around 10th wheel.

  69. 15:13:10 GMT

    Kloden has been dropped now.

  70. 15:13:38 GMT

    Westra is still up there but Chavanel isn't.  He's been dropped. And Anton too.

  71. 15:14:29 GMT

    Porte looks back , and again gets out of the saddle. He looks so strong and so does Wiggins. Still plenty of time for attacks those.

    Luis Leon has also gone, Menchov as well.

  72. 15:14:54 GMT

    Porte has reduced the lead group to around 15 riders. He's Wiggins' last man with 1km to go.

  73. 15:15:18 GMT

    And Monfort dropped as an FDJ rider attacks.

  74. 15:15:57 GMT

    He gains just a few bike lengths. Wiggins has two men with him. Porte and I think that's Uran.

  75. 15:16:58 GMT

    Jeannesson is the rider on the attack but Wiggins accelerates and Van Garderen is dropped. Levi gets right on the Sky rider's wheel as Porte pulls off.

  76. 15:17:07 GMT

    Westra is clear

  77. 15:17:32 GMT

    As Wiggins has to chase. There's a gap and Wiggins has to close that.

  78. 15:18:00 GMT

    Westra is looking very strong and I think he's going to win the stage. Wiggins has to lead the chase Cunego dropped, Levi and Valverde still there.

  79. 15:18:08 GMT

    Westra takes the win.

  80. 15:18:45 GMT

    Valverde second Wiggins third. Westra was 6 seconds clear at the line. He was 18 seconds down at the start of the stage so he's moved right up into second place.

  81. 15:20:16 GMT

    Perhaps some hesitation from Sky but Wiggins gave it everything in the last 1km as Westra moved clear. Van Garderen was dropped, Monfort too so the top 10 will look very different after today's stage.

    That was a very impressive move from Westra who looked very, very strong.

  82. 15:20:39 GMT

    Leipheimer took 4th.

  83. 15:21:19 GMT

    Westra was practically free-wheeling over the line. He could have taken the jersey if he'd carried on racing.

  84. 15:22:11 GMT

    So Wiggins leads Westra by 6 seconds, Leipheimer is at 10 and Valverde at 18. Westra is well and truly in the race now.

  85. 15:39:21 GMT

    1 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM 4:52:46
    2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:06
    3 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
    4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
    5 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha Team
    6 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:00:16
    7 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ-Bigmat
    8 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:24
    9 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling
    10 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:30


    1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 18:23:40
    2 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM 0:00:06
    3 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:10
    4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:18
    5 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha Team 0:00:37
    6 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:39
    7 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:46
    8 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ-Bigmat 0:01:06
    9 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:01:16
    10 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Astana Pro Team 0:01:21

  86. 15:40:36 GMT

    That's the end of today's action. Thanks for joining us. We're back tomorrow for stage 6 from Suze-la-Rousse to Sisteron.


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