Paris - Nice: voices after stage 5

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15.03.2008/ Yesterdays stage was another exiting stage. Carlos Barredo took the stage after he attacked out of a breakaway group. Dutch young gun Robert Gesink defended his overall lead. Here some post race comments.

© Sirotti
Robert Gesink's "teammates are exhausted." (© Sirotti)

In yesterdays race report of the fifth stage we already published post race comments from stage winner Carlos Barredo (Quickstep). But what did some of the other riders and sports directors said about yesterdays fifth stage?
Karsten Kroon (CSC) came in second at yestérdays stage. Kroon reached the finish line eight seconds after Barredo. "Kroon showed great strength as well as a keen sense of tactics. He did really well, but about seven kilometers before the finish there was a climb on which Barredo attacked twice. First time Karsten managed to close the gap, but the second time he got away. But we're still very satisfied with the result though," said CSC sports director Kim Andersen after the stage.
Robert Gesink defended his overall lead, looking very good. But his team wasn't that strong. Gerolsteiner's team manager Hans - Michael Holczer said: "They have suffered during the [5th, editor] stage." Holczer continued by saying: "Gesink is strong , but at todays Col du Tanneron he will be without teammates. They are exhausted."
Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin is only 32 seconds behind Gesink. Holczer said: "We annd Davide are still believing in winning the overall. After two second spots and one third place at Paris - Nice he won't be satisfied with anything less as the overall win."
Quicksteps team manager Patrick Lefevere also thinks that Rabobank had to make a big effort to defend the jersey but he is enthousiastic about Gesink's performance. Lefevere said: "What he showed at the Ventoux was extraordinary class. The Rabobank school proofs again and again to have great talents. Gesink, Bauke Mollema [who won last years Tour de l'Avenir, editor] , Kai Reus, Thomas Dekker and Lars Boom are examples of a new generation with a great future."
Astana's Johan Bruyneel is also enthousiastic about Gesink. Bruyneel said: "We don't have such a great talent in Belgium. I'm also a great supporter of the Rabobank schooling system. I think it proofs that you can raise talents."
Much was mentioned, including Levi Leipheimer's text message to Rabobank's sports director Erik Dekker. Leipheimer won the yellow jersey at this years Tour of California and came in second at the Queen stage of the US stage race. Gesink won the stage and the young riders classification in California. Leipheimer had send a text message to Dekker on Wednesday evening saying: "Robert is going to win tomorrow."
Rabobank's sports director is optimistic. "It is harder for the competition to take the yellow away from Robert than it is for us to defend his yellow," said sports director Erik Dekker, who for a moment looked back on Thursday, when his pupil staged a successful coup in a magnificent manner. "It is getting harder and harder to be surprised by what he shows us." The media seized on what has been dubbed 'Gesink's major breakthrough' by some newspapers.
Dekker: "The guys were not bored. It looked tense, but the signals I got reassured me. They said they were all right, that they had things under control But it was intense though, full throttle from start to finish." At first, Juan Antonio Flecha was part of the escape. "But we needed him in the pack more." That was also caused by the fact that Mathew Hayman, who has been haunted for some time now by an injury to the buttock and legs, gave up. "But we are another day closer to Nice."

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Picture gallery: Paris - Nice , Stage 5, March 15, 2008.

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