CSC close in at Paris-Nice; Blaudzun best bet at Tirreno

As a result of Bobby Julich leading a small group of three into the finish at Montélimar during today's stage of Paris-Nice [Stage 4], just five seconds behind stage winner Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) but significantly, 27 seconds ahead of the peloton that included Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears), the American is now Team CSC's best-placed rider in third place overall. However, Team CSC directeur-sportif Kim Andersen still believes Jens Voigt is their best chance for tomorrow's stage to Mont Faron.

Said a pleased Andersen after the stage: "It was high paced all day, and the peloton was very nervous. We attacked as planned in the crosswinds, but Voigt and Schleck didn't manage to escape. Fortunately, Bobby was alert, when Jaksche attacked towards the end.

"It was a daring break away, but the gap wasn't too big, and Bobby improved in the overall standings, which means he now has a nice lead on Valverde, who seems to be our most dangerous rival in this race. Jens Voigt is probably still our best card on Mont Faron tomorrow, but it's definitely a big advantage for us to have so many riders well placed in the GC," he said on the team's website,

Over in Italy at Tirreno-Adriatico, with Jakob Piil still in pain, Michael Blaudzun is considered to be the Danish squad's best chance of a high overall finish five days from now, after finishing in the front group on yesterday's shortened Stage 2 from Civitavecchia to Tivoli, which was won by Oscar Freire (Rabobank).

"Blaudzun did very well on yesterday's climb, and today he also proved himself to be on form. It was a tough finish and Michael was up front. He finished 21st, and I believe he is our best hope in the overall standings," said sports director Alain Gallopin post-stage. "Piil is still in pain, but it's not getting any worse. He's still fighting to get over his injury, and of course we're hoping for him to be fit as soon as possible."

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