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Paris-Nice 2012: Gianni Meersman climbs two steps higher on the podium

Added: wednesday 07 March 2012 at 22:38:00
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    Paris-Nice 2012: Gianni Meersman climbs two steps higher on the podiumGianni Meersman, who already finished 3rd in yesterday's stage, won today's stage in Rodez! The Belgian rider thus climbs two steps on the podium after a stage which was marked by a 5 men breakaway, which was taken back at about twenty kilometers from the finish. Attemptes from Thomas de Gendt and Andreas Klöden didn't really work out and this stage thus ended in a sprint again.

    The summary of the 4th stage of Paris-Nice 2012: Brive-la-Gaillarde > Rodez

    After Andy Schleck abandoning yesterday with a gastroenteritis, two of his team mates with Radioshack-Nissan also got hit by this disease: Joost Posthuma and Jan Bakelants didn't come to the start. Taylor Phinney of the BMC Racing Team had the same problems.
    Adam Hansen
    In the Lotto-Belisol team, two riders didn't take the start either: Olivier Kaisen who was ill already and also crashed yesterday and Adam Hansen (photo) who decided not to start because of a bronchitis.

    Pierrick FédrigoWith 167 riders at the start, Paris-Nice 2012 thus saw its 4th stage take place between Brive-la-Gaillarde and Rodez today. Just after noon, at kilometer 6 today's breakaway was formed by Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale) and Pierrick Fédrigo (FDJ BigMat, photo). This leading duo quickly got company from Leigh Howard (GreenEDGE) and Luis Angel Maté Mardones (Cofidis) and finally also from Bart de Clercq of the Lotto-Belisol team. They first left a bit timidly but 12 kilometers further, their gap was already up to 1'20" before reaching its maximum of 5'20" at kilometer 29.

    On the top of the Côte de Fangas it was down to 3 minutes and Luis Angel Maté crossed the line first on that hill, ahead of De Clercq and Péraud.

    While the Rabobank led the chase behind them, it was still these 5 riders who got on top of the Côte de Blanquie first and they did that in the same order. In the Côte de Quotidiane it was again Luis Angel Maté who got on top first, still ahead of De Clercq but this time it was Leigh Howard who took the 3rd place.

    At the intermediate sprint in Saint-Cyprien-sur-Dourdou, at 36 kilometers from the finish, the gap of the 5 riders on the peloton was down to only 1'20" when Leigh Howard took the points and the bonus seconds ahead of De Clercq and Fédrigo.

    Luis Angel MatéAt a bit less than 25 kilometers from the finish, Luis Angel Maté decided to drop back to the peloton while the 4 other riders were also taken back by the peloton at about 20 kilometers from the finish. That was thus just before the climb of the Côte d'Aubert le Crès where the rider wearing the polka dot jersey, Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), took some of the last points to be awarded in this stage, ahead of Javier Moreno (Movistar Team) and Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM).

    De Gendt, who despite that lost his polka dot jersey anyway in this stage, continued in the same pace and created a gap of only a few seconds on the peloton. He was first joined by 4 chasing riders but at 8 kilometers from the finish, the whole bunch came back together and everything could thus start all over again.

    At that time, it were again the riders of the Movistar Team who set the pace, but this time it turned out to be too early. Indeed, Andreas Klöden (Radioshack-Nissan) actually attacked for a solo attempt and he thus arrived on top of the last climb, the Côte de Bourran, first (ahead of Jose Joaquin Rojas and Alejandro Valverde of the Movistar Team). At 500 meters from the finish his adventure however ended and it was thus finally in a sprint that Gianni Meersman (Lotto-Belisol) managed to beat Grega Bole (Lampre-ISD) who started the sprint, thus improving for two places his stage classification in yesterday's stage. In the general classification, the situation remains unchanged.

    The Paris-Nice 2012 classifications after the 4th stage

    The stage classification for the 4h stage - Brive-la-Gaillarde > Rodez

    The top 10 of this 4th stage of Paris-Nice 2012 was as follows:

    1/ Gianni Meersman (Lotto-Belisol) - 4h21'01"
    2/ Grega Bole (Lampre-ISD)
    3/ Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
    4/ Xavier Florencio (Katusha Team)
    5/ Jonathan Hivert (Saur-Sojasun)
    6/ Simon Geschke (Project 1t4i)
    7/ Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale)
    8/ Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team)
    9/ Francesco Gavazzi (Astana)
    10/ Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)

    General classification

    Bradley WigginsBy finishing 10th in today's stage, Bradley Wiggins assured his yellow jersey:

    1/ Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) - 13h30'52"
    2/ Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) - +0'06"
    3/ Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) - +0'11"
    4/ Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) - +0'14"
    5/ Maxime Monfort (Radioshack-Nissan) - +0'18"
    6/ Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team) - +0'18"
    7/ Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) - +0'20"
    8/ Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar Team) - +0'29"
    9/ Simon Spilak (Katusha Team) - +0'33"
    10/ Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) - +0'36"

    Points classification

    Alejandro ValverdeSome changes in the points classification where Gianni Meersman, Francesco Gavazzi and Lieuwe Westra enter the top 5:

    1/ Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) - 52 points
    2/ Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) - 47 points
    3/ Gianni Meersman (Lotto-Belisol) - 45 points
    4/ Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) - 40 points
    5/ Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team) - 38 points

    King of the Mountains classification

    Luis Angel MatéBy getting on top first on 3 of today's climbs, Luis Angel Maté Mardones (Cofidis) took the first place in the King of the Mountains classification, getting a 4 points lead on his colleague from today's breakaway, Bart de Clercq (Lotto-Belisol), and 8 points on the rider who wore the polka dot jersey so far, Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team).

    1/ Luis Angel Maté Mardones (Cofidis, le crédit en ligne) - 18 points
    2/ Bart de Clercq (Lotto-Belisol) - 14 points
    3/ Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team) - 10 points
    4/ Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) - 5 points
    5/ Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale) - 5 points

    Best young rider

    Tejay van GarderenNo changes in the young riders classification where Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) still keeps a solid lead:

    1/ Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) - 13h31'03"
    2/ Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky) - +3'01"
    3/ Davide Malacarne (Team Europcar) - +3'07"
    4/ Dominik Nerz (Liquigas-Cannondale) - +3'40"
    5/ Gaëtan Bille (Lotto-Belisol Team) - +3'46"

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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