Paris - Nice: voices after stage 6

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16.03.2008/ Rabobank's young gun lost his yellow jersey yesterady. Davide Rebellin is the new race leader after he attacked on the descent of the Col du Tanneron. The sixth stage was won by Sylvain Chavanel. Here some post race comments.

© Sirotti
Davide Rebellin is the new race leader (© Sirotti)

Davide Rebellin was a happy man after the sixth stage finished in Cannes. On, the new overall leader said: "I know that descent and its difficulties very well. That's why I knew that I have to take some risk"
Rebellin is a bit worried about Ag2r's Rinaldo Nocentini : "Ofcourse I am in a very good position now. But with a lead of three seconds I have to be very careful."
Gerolsteiner's sports director Christian Wegmann said: "We had discussed it a little bit before. Our plan worked."
Part of the plan was that Rebellin's teammate Bernahrd Kohl would go with a breakaway group. Which the Austrian rider did, and so Rebellin had one man at the front who increased the speed on the descent after Rebellin joined the front group. Wegmann said: "Bernhard gave everything he had. That was really strong."
Rinaldo Nocentini’s Ag2r sports director Vincent Lavenu said this morning (before the start of the final stage): "When you’re three seconds behind, you have every right to believe in your chances even if we’re aware that Rebellin is not a rookie and that it will not be easy. Rinaldo and Rebellin are the same type of riders, punchers, good climbers, solid and skilled. We’ll have chances in the intermediate sprints, even though it will be hard in the first as the sprinters should still be with us. On the second sprint, we’ll have to see whether there is a breakaway. There is also bonus to be grabbed on the finish line. The other option is to drop Rebellin. We will have to adapt to circumstances, knowing that Gerolsteiner have their plan too."
Rabobank's Robert Gesink had to chase Rebellin and Rinaldo Nocentini alone. Friday evening many observers already said that his teammates were exhausted. Matthew Hayman had to abandon the race on Friday and yesterday Bram Tankink did not start anymore. Tankink is suffering knee problems.
If that wasn't enough, Gesink had a puncture with only 40 kilometers to go. Juan Antonio Flechia gave Gesink his backwheel and the whole team brought the 21 year old back to the bunch. Gesink told Dutch tv station NOS: "Ofcourse I am dissapointed." Gesink continued by saying: "I just lost contact with the front group [Rebellin's grou, editor]. If they go down in front of you and next to [Fränk Schleck and several other riders crashed at the descent, editor] you than something happens with you. I was a bit scared. And if you, like in my case, don't know any of the curves.."
Gesink added: "After the descent I had to ride 15 kilometres on flat roads. I almost didn't get any help, which is normal if you are wearing that jersey. I am not complaining about my teammates. It wasn't easy to stay in the group at that difficult climb."
Gesink concluded with: "What I learned from this stage? That I have to descent faster."
CSC's Bobby Julich and Chris Anker were part of a break of eight, which escaped after only 15 kilometers. The other riders in the break were Bernhard Kohl (Geroslteiner), Gert Steegmans (Quick Step) Clement l'Hotellerie (Skil-Shimano), Kevin Ista (Agritubel), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) and Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom.) After he picked up enough points for the polkdot jersey l'Hotellerie let himself fall back, he won the three mountain sprints and hereby secured himself the victory in the mountain competition in this year's edition of Paris-Nice.
Several riders where dropped an at the end only Julich, Sørensen and Mathieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom) were left of what once was an eight men breakaway group.  On the final climb Sørensen made an attempt early on, but he was caught and then Sprick and Julich were off. They managed to maintain a gap, but on the descent Sprick crashed and Julich was alone for a while. Julich was caught by the Rebellin group.
"Bobby and Chris did really well and it was generally a great stage both for the spectators and also for us. We're back on form after all the crashes, but Fränk Schleck did crash again on the final descent. He bounced back quickly though and I think he's okay," said CSC sports director Kim Andersen after the stage where CSC rider Jason McCartney abandoned half way through.
The route of todays 7th and final stage of Paris-Nice was altered after stones fell on the road between kilometres 88 and 97 of the initial itinerary. As a result, the stage length was cut down to 115 kms. A little hill between La Turbie and the col d’Eze disappears from the course.

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Picture gallery: Paris - Nice , Stage 6, March 15, 2008.

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