PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Floyd Landis became the second American to win Paris-Nice following Bobby Julich's victory last year when he finished in a group containing his nearest challenger, Patxi Vila, on Nice's Promenade des Anglais on Sunday afternoon. The final stage was won by Gerolsteiner's Marcus Zberg, who proved quickest of a five-man leading group.
Landis has looked totally in control ever since he took the leader's yellow jersey when he finished second behind Lampre's Vila on Wednesday's stage into St Etienne. Winner of the Tour of California at the end of last month, which he said then was the biggest win of his career, the Phonak team leader came into Paris-Nice with Julich and others nominating him as the favourite, and has duly lived up to that tag. Two weeks on from winning in California, Landis now has a new career-best win to celebrate.
"It's really a great satisfaction," said Landis of his victory, quickly adding, "but I must first of all thank my Phonak team-mates. There was no big fight today, but since the St Etienne stage when I made the difference they have worked hard every day. I was rather happy they took it easy today."
Landis said he was surprised by the high level of his early season form "and to win here after the Tour of California. But it's becoming a bit of an American race and I'm very proud to add my name to the winners' list of such a prestigious event." Asked what would be next on his programme, he quipped: "Sleep first. And then I will work on a strategy and a preparation for the big race in July."
The final stage of the race featured four climbs, an opening second-cat hill, then three first-cats, starting with the Col de la Porte, where David Moncouti went clear on his own and secured the mountains jersey. Tom Boonen's earlier abandon after just 6km ensured that Samuel Sanchez inherited the Belgian's lead in the points competition, and the Euskaltel rider hung on to that although he slipped from third to fourth overall behind Antonio Colom, who finished fourth on the stage.
Landis's principal moment of concern came when he crashed approaching the Col de la Porte, although the American was quickly back on his bike and didn't look unduly troubled thereafter.
Zberg made his first push on the Col de la Turbie after Moncouti had been reeled in, but the Swiss could not stay clear dropping back into Nice for a first pass through the finishing area. The riders then headed out of the city for the final climb of the race, the Col d'Eze, where Alberto Contador (Liberty) and stage six winner Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) went clear of Zberg, Evgeni Petrov and Colom. This quintet came back together on the steep and fast run off the climb back into Nice, where the nippy Zberg gave Gerolsteiner their first win of the week.
Stage 7, Nice-Nice
1 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 135km in 3.29.38 (38.64kph)
2 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Lampre
3 Alberto Contador (Spa) Liberty Seguros
4 Antonio Colom (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
5 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0.16
6 Sandy Casar (Fra) Franaise des Jeux 0.18
7 Erik Dekker (Hol) Rabobank
8 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Lampre
9 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) T-Mobile
10 Cyril Dessel (Fra) Ag2r
24 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak
25 Patxi Vila (Spa) Lampre
Final overall standings
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 31.54.41
2 Patxi Vila (Spa) Lampre 0.09
3 Antonio Colom (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 1.05
4 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel 1.13
5 Frank Schleck (Lux) CSC 1.22
6 Jos Azevedo (Por) Discovery Channel 1.35
7 Erik Dekker (Hol) Rabobank 1.38
8 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Crdit Agricole 1.39
9 Jos Luis Rubiera (Spa) Discovery Channel 1.40
10 Chris Horner (USA) Davitamon-Lotto 1.43
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM