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Alberto Contador wins the first stage of Paris-Nice 2009

Added: monday 09 March 2009 at 2:19:44
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    Alberto Contador wins the first stage of Paris-Nice 2009As usual early March the first stage of Paris-Nice 2009 took place today.

    Just like last year this was an individual time trial in the city of Amilly in the Loiret. This year Paris-Nice didn't start with a prologue since this stage's route gave a total distance of 9,3 kilometers.

    The weather

    Last year the prologue of Paris-Nice took place in pretty bad weather conditions with a lot of wind and a little bit of rain ... this year it was even worse with almost constant falling rain and a little bit of wind.

    This year the weather conditions were the same for all riders while last year the riders who started early had better conditions than those who started later on. This year, from Theo Eltink (Rabobank), who left first, until Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale), who left last, the roads were wet and thus slippery and it continued to rain all day long ...

    The result

    Alberto ContadorEveryone expected Alberto Contador (Astana) to try to repeat what he did in 2007 by winning this race to the sun again. We didn't expect him however to show upfront right from the start like he did today.

    Indeed, he took the yellow jersey on the very first day and the Astana team thus has to defend this jersey right from the second stage tomorrow from Saint-Brisson-sur-Loire to La Chapelle-Saint-Ursin (see my article about the Google Maps / Google Earth map of the race for all information about the Paris-Nice 2009 route).

    Alberto Contador was the only rider who finished the time trial today with an average speed above 50 kilometers an hour (just like Thor Hushovd when he won the prologue last year): he rode the 9.3 kilometers in 11 minutes and 5 seconds, which means an average speed of 50.3 kilometers an hour.

    In a reaction Contador said: It's a surprise for me to win here, especially before the time trial specialists and that on a completely flat route. I'm definitely not the best time trial rider. Compared to last year I haven't changed anything to my position on the bike. No, I think I won this stage just because I had a good day. This doesn't change much in the approach of my team this week. We'll have to pay attention all week long but the most important thing is to be able to receive the yellow jersey next Sunday in Nice.

    Luis Leon Sanchez reads L'EquipeIn today's classification and thus in the generic classification the two riders after Contador are the British rider Bradley Wiggins (Garmin Slipstream) at 7 seconds and the Spanish rider Luis Leon Sanchez (photo) (Caisse d'Epargne) at 9 seconds.

    Sanchez showed even more motivation after the race than before: I think I should be very happy with my result because there was not much more I could do against a super Contador. I did a good time trial despite the rain. I came to Paris-Nice to fight for the generic classification. My result and the sensations I had today make me even more motivated to do so now. The fact that Contador is wearing the leader's jersey is good for us because from now on the responsibility for the race is at the Astana team.

    The top 10 was completed by the following riders:
    4/ Tony Martin (Columbia High Road) at 11 seconds
    5/ David Millar (Garmin Slipstream) at 14 seconds
    6/ Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) at 18 seconds
    7/ Sylvain Chavanel (Quick.Step) at 19 seconds
    8/ Antonio Colom (Katusha) at 19 seconds
    9/ Vladimir Karpets (Katusha) at 21 seconds
    10/ Rémi Pauriol (Cofidis) at 22 seconds

    Some of the other favorites, next to Contador and Sanchez, are at no less than halve a minute already with for example Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) at 31 seconds, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 33 seconds and Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) at 36 seconds.

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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