Team RadioShack‘s Andreas Klöden added to his long and impressive list of palmaires today, finishing in 2nd place in the overall general classification of the 8 days of the storied Paris-Nice race. On a cold and rainy day, on some very slick roads in the south of France, the experienced 35-year old finished the day with the same 36 second GC time deficit that separated him from the leader, Tony Martin of HTC-Highroad since the time trial 3 days ago.
Andreas marked Martin’s moves all day, hoping for a slip or mistake by the younger, highly talented leader, but Martin would never provide an opportunity for Klöden to mount a serious threat. He just missed making a little history. Had Andreas pulled it off, he would have been the first rider since the race started – 78 years ago – to have an 11-year span between victories. A rare testament to his longevity at the highest levels of professional cycling.
With the temperature barely reaching past 50 degrees, rain and wind gusts to 24 kmh, it wasn’t a particularly pleasant day in the saddle for the riders over the 124-kilometer mountain course that took 3 hours-16 minutes from its start and finish in Nice, France. Though the route covered 5 categorized climbs (with 2 cat ones at the 94- and 111-kilometer marks), the race flattened a bit at the end, so it was anyone’s guess if there might be a bunch sprint to the line, as in some past years. However, Thomas Voeckler of Team Europcar took care of that, dropping any chasers toward the end and finishing comfortably ahead of Diego Ulissi of Lamprey, with ample time for victory waves coasting past the line.
With very solid finishes by Team RadioShack riders, including two more top ten performances by Janez Brajkovic (7th) and Levi Leipheimer (8th), TRS took the tightly contested Team Competition at this year’s race. Sky, Astana and Movistar had been less than a minute behind as of yesterday, but fell back more than 3 minutes on this final day.
Top ten finishers at this year’s Paris-Nice:
1. Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad 34:03:37
2. Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShack 0:00:36
3. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:41
4. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Lingne 0:01:10
5. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:01:13
6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondaile 0:01:24
7. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team RadioShack 0:01:34
8. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 0:01:36
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:02:04
10. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Leopard Trek 0:02:26
By George Hurst, staff writer