Boonen makes it look easy
Tom Boonen confirmed his domination of the early season sprints, by winning the 4th, 193km (121mile) stage of Paris-Nice, which took the riders from St. Etienne to Rasteau, along the Rhone valley.
Boonen had stalled midway through his sprint too, with a missed gear. Yet despite this upset he had the power to come round all of his rivals, to give him his 10th victory so far this season and underlines him as number one at present.
After the previous day’s hard and wet conditions, 12 riders abandoned with 4 finishing outside of the time limit some 40 minutes down. This left 144 riders to start the stage today with overall leader Floyd Landis’ Phonak team riding on the front. They had some help from Lampre who wanted to protect their second place man, Patxi Xabier Vila Errandonea which is a bit of a mouthful for Sean Kelly, or for anyone really…
A few attacks early on came to nothing until Giling of T-Mobile and Leblacher of FDJ escaped. By the Col du Deves at 67.9km they had a comfortable lead of over 5mins. However, the sprinters teams had everything worked out, and had caught the two escapees with about 14km to go.
As for British interest, well Roger Hammond is moving up the GC and managed a creditable 12th place in the dash for the line, whilst Bradley Wiggins seems to be over the crash damage now, as he finished safely in the bunch.
1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 4.40.29 (41.285 km/h)
2. Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team
3. Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner
4. Elia Rigotto (Ita) Team Milram
5. Gert Steegmans (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
6. Sebastian Siedler (Ger) Team Milram
7. Lilian Jegou (Fra) Française des Jeux
8. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) T-Mobile Team
9. Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
10. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Credit Agricole
11. Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Credit Agricole
12. Roger Hammond (GBr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
105. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone
1. Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 19.26.57
2. Patxi Xabier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre-Fondital 0.09
3. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.13
4. Antonio Colom (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears 1.23
5. Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
6. Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 1.33
7. José Azevedo (Por) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 1.35
8. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.37
9. Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Credit Agricole 1.39
10. José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 1.40
71. Roger Hammond (GBr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 14.10
113. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone 23.16
Paris-Nice website follow the stages live.