P-Nice 3: Reynes takes his chance

Tom Boonen's winning run at the so-called 'race to the sun' comes to an end on a snow-affected stage

Tom Boonen's winning run at the so-called 'race to the sun' comes to an end on a snow-affected stage
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM It was perhaps fitting on a day when the weather once again produced uncertainty and confusion that a much-shortened and tweaked stage was unexpectedly won in a chaotic finish by unheralded Spaniard Vicente Reynes. For the third day in a row the stage ended in a sprint, but the general confusion of the day seemed to get to Tom Boonen and his Quick Step team-mates, who had produced victories the two previous days. As on stage one, Kevin Hulsmans did a splendid job of chasing down a late breakaway, with Fabian Cancellara and Alexandre Vinokourov the men foiled, but in the final kilometre it all went wrong for Quick Step. Boonen got boxed in on the approach to the line, allowing his rivals their chance. Reynes, who's ridden well this week, took it, beating Boonen's lead-out man Guido Trenti and Davitamon-Lotto's Fred Rodriguez. Wiping away tears having taken just his third win in his third pro season, Reynes, 23, explained that this was by far the best day of his career so far, his previous victories having come in the Gran Premio Abimota in Portugal in 2003. "We can relax a bit now, it was very important to win a stage of Paris-Nice," said Reynes. "After Vinokourov's attack I realised that Voigt was in the front group and got on his wheel. "I didn't know what the finish was like bit when I saw it was straight and on a slight uphill I told myself I had to attack, that I had a chance of winning the stage if I took advantage of my current good form. I just went hard from 300 metres out." The Spaniard was so overcome at the finish that he didn't even notice that it was his cycling hero, Bernard Hinault, who handed him his victory bouquet on the podium. Now Reynes' aim is to help team leader Alejandro Valverde win the overall title this week. Today's stage was shortened because the planned finish point at Chambon sur Lignon was only accessible to vehicles using snowchains. The alternative route ran 85km south to Craponne, then took in a 33km circuit around the town. The itinerary did, however, still include the first-cat climb of the Cote de Lavet, and the climb offered some clues as to some of the likely contenders for this race. Vinokourov got into break here alongside defending champion Jorg Jaksche, Mario Aerts and Yaroslav Popovych. The group containing these names did not get even as much as a minute's advantage such was the pace of the chase behind them. Once caught, former race leader Erik Dekker tried to get away, as did the persistent Sylvain Chavanel, but Quick Step countered all the late moves and appeared to have everything under control. Or at least they did until Reynes scented an opportunity and took it. Boonen's consolation was another day in the leader's jersey. Stage 3, Thiers-Craponne sur Arzon 1 Vicente Reynes (Spa) Illes Balears 118km in 2.40.51 (44.02kph) 2 Guido Trenti (USA) Quick Step 3 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto 4 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Liberty Seguros 5 Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC 6 Dmitri Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis 7 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Francaise des Jeux 9 Nico Mattan (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 10 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo 26 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile 27 Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) Francaise des Jeux 35 Bobby Julich (USA) CSC 36 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 54 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Illes Balears 64 Jorg Jaksche (Ger) Liberty Seguros 65 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 76 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step 95 Thomas Dekker (Hol) Rabobank 99 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 101 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 108 Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas-Bianchi 109 David Zabriskie (USA) CSC 110 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 132 Ian McLeod (SA) Francaise des Jeux 9.35 133 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank Overall 1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 7.58.46 2 Erik Dekker (Hol) Rabobank 0.03 3 Vicente Reynes (Spa) Illes Balears 0.04 4 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) CSC 0.05 5 Vladimir Goussev (Rus) CSC 0.09 6 Voigt 7 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo 0.11 8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Franaise des Jeux 0.16 9 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 10 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Saunier Duval 11 Julich 12 Valverde 0.17 24 Vinokourov 0.57 25 Jaksche 0.58 26 Lovkvist 34 Kemps 1.07 41 Rogers 1.13 44 Evans 1.15 59 Thomas Dekker 1.31 62 Armstrong 1.35 66 Landis 1.39 71 Danielson 1.50 76 Zabriskie 2.15 80 Sastre 2.29 110 Rodriguez 9.30 132 McLeod 12.18 136 Wegelius 13.15 138 Hayman
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