Germany’s Andreas Kloden rolled back the years to take the lead in the Paris-Nice race after winning Thursday’s 194km-fifth stage between Saint-Symphorien-sur-Coise and Vernoux-en-Vivarais.
The RadioShack rider, a former runner-up in the Tour de France, prevailed in an eight-man sprint, which notably featured Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez and German race contender Tony Martin.
Euskaltel rider Sanchez was second with HTC-Highroad all-rounder Martin in fourth, just behind Italian Matteo Carrara of the Vacansoleil team.
Another Spaniard, 2009 race winner Luis Leon Sanchez, conceded 18 seconds after he led home a second group of riders following their failure to follow what turned out to be the day’s winning move.
A late collapse by French champion Thomas Voeckler of Europcar with only 500m of the day’s final climb remaining provided the springboard for Kloden and seven other riders to forge ahead.
On the descent they pulled together to build a 20-second lead on a group of around 14 chasers.
In the final kilometer, the back wheel of Slovenian teammate Janez Brajkovic allowed Kloden to save the energy needed to beat a frustrated Sanchez to the stage victory, his first win on the race since he won the seventh stage and the overall victory in 2000.
Kloden, 35, now holds a 4 second lead over Sanchez, with Martin a further 6 seconds further back ahead of yesterday’s potential race-decider, a 27km time trial from Rognes to Aix-en-Provence.
Martin, a strong time triallist who won the Tour of the Algarve a fortnight ago, was expected to battle Kloden for the race leader’s jersey yesterday.
American Tyler Farrar stepped up his preparations for the Milan-San Remo classic by winning the -second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico on Thursday and claiming the leader’s blue jersey.
After 202km from Marina di Carrera to Indicatore, the 26-year-old Garmin-Cervelo sprinter edged out Italian favorite Alessandro Petacchi in a bunch finish with Argentine Juan Jose Haedo finishing third just ahead of Australia’s Mark Renshaw.
Farrar started the day seventh overall following Wednesday’s team time-trial, won by Rabobank, but was able to count on the full support of his recently merged outfit, which includes Norway’s reigning world champion Thor Hushovd.
Along with the Paris-Nice in France, the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race is considered a crucial stepping stone for anyone looking to podium in the first one-day classic of the season, Milano-San Remo, which begins on March 19.
Britain’s Mark Cavendish, a 15-time stage winner on the Tour de France and the 2009 winner of Milan-San Remo, dropped off the pace on the climb of the Poggio alla Croce and struggled to follow the wheel of habitual lead-out man Renshaw.
That slip will not have gone unnoticed by Garmin, who, after merging with Cervelo, have what appears to be a cycling super-team.
Farrar in any case hopes they will be a force to be reckoned with come March 19.
Overnight leader Lars Boom dropped to third behind teammate Thomas Leezer, both 2 seconds behind the American.
German Andre Greipel, one of several top sprinters expected to challenge the domination of Cavendish this season, pulled out of the race due to injuries he picked up in a crash on Wednesday’s opening stage.
STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA
Taiwan’s first international cycling marathon will take place in Pingtung County in May on a new road around a bay in the southern county, the Tourism Bureau announced on Thursday.
The Dapeng Bay International Cycling Marathon, sanctioned by French cycling club Audax Club Parisien, will be run on May 21 and May 22 on the 12.3km road around Dapeng Bay, said Johnson Sheu, director of the Dapeng Bay Scenic Area Administration, at a press conference held at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
The news came following an announcement that 47 local cyclists are scheduled to participate in this year’s Paris-Brest-Paris 1,200km event — the world’s oldest bicycling event on the open road — from Aug. 21 to Aug. 25.
The team will be led by Cheng Wen-chang, who in 2007 became the first person from Taiwan to complete the cycling challenge.
To qualify for the French event, participants must finish 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km events in the year before the race, which was first held in 1891.
“It will be a great achievement if I can complete the ride,” said Hana Hung, one of eight female cyclists to register for the race.
The cyclists will ride individually and will try to complete the tour within 90 hours.
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