Paris-Nice Stage 4: Third time lucky for stage winner Voeckler, de Gendt back in yellow

Breakaway manages to stay ahead of peloton as Belgian rides back into race lead

by Simon_MacMichael   March 9, 2011  

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Thomas de Gendt of Vacansoleil-DCM attacked from the front in style to take back the Paris-Nice race leader’s jersey from Matt Goss today, as fellow escapee Thomas Voeckler of Europcar, sporting the French national champion’s colours, took the stage win in Belleville.

The pair had got into a five-man break early on in the 191km stage from Creches-sur-Saone, today's route almost completing a circle as between the neighbouring start and finish towns. On the way, de Gendt focused on picking up bonus seconds at intermediate sprints as he sought to take back the overall lead he had lost yesterday.

By the closing kilometres of the stage, the Belgian was pedalling at full steam to pull the three surviving fellow escapees along as the peloton, led by Leopard Trek, attempted to hunt them down.

Coming under the flamme rouge, the breakaway quartet held a 20-second advantage and it was clear they weren’t going to be caught, with Voeckler taking the sprint from Remy Pauriol of FDJ.

It was a case of third time lucky for the popular rider who in the past two years has twice finished second in stages of this race after being involved in an escape.

De Gendt, meanwhile, cruised over the line in third place to confirm that he would be back in the overall lead going into tomorrow’s 193km Stage 5 from Saint-Symphorien-sur-Coise Vernoux-en-Vivarais, which like today's stage includes seven categorised climbs.

Today’s stage was the first time in this year’s race that Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas hasn’t headed the peloton as the race approached the line. The Welshman had a tumble on the day’s final climb, but appeared unhurt and was able to complete the stage.

Tomorrow's ascents however are likely to be more testing than today's climbs were, and although he was pleased to have won the race lead back, de Gendt accepts that it may be difficult to retain tit.

"At first I just wanted to go for the sprint and take seconds, thinking that if Goss was in the peloton, I might take back the jersey," said the 24-year-old afterwards, quoted on the Paris-Nice website.

"We just kept riding and they could not catch us," he continued. "I had good legs, I wanted to ride in the front. I didn’t expect it to go so well. I was riding just for the yellow jersey. If I wanted to win the stage, I would have played it smarter.

"To take the jersey is also nice. Tomorrow is a hard stage, I have thirty seconds on the first real climbers. Maybe it will be enough, maybe not. I don’t think so…”

Paris-Nice Stage 4 Result 
1   VOECKLER Thomas        TEAM EUROPCAR             5h 04' 20"
2   PAURIOL Rémi           FDJ                        + 00' 00"
3   DE GENDT Thomas        VACANSOLEIL-DCM            + 00' 00"
4   DI GREGORIO Rémy       PRO TEAM ASTANA            + 00' 00"
5   HAUSSLER Heinrich      TEAM GARMIN - CERVELO      + 00' 13"
6   SAGAN Peter            LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE        + 00' 13"
7   FEILLU Romain          VACANSOLEIL-DCM            + 00' 13"
8   DUMOULIN Samuel        COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE + 00' 13"
9   BOLE Grega             LAMPRE - ISD               + 00' 13"
10  WYSS Danilo            BMC RACING TEAM            + 00' 13"
11  ROJAS Jose Joaquin     MOVISTAR TEAM              + 00' 13"
12  ROELANDTS Jurgen       OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO       + 00' 13"
13  PINEAU Jérôme          QUICK STEP                 + 00' 13"
14  REDA Francesco         QUICK STEP                 + 00' 13"
15  FOFONOV Dmitriy        PRO TEAM ASTANA            + 00' 13"
16  OFFREDO Yoann          FDJ                        + 00' 13"
17  PASAMONTES Luis        MOVISTAR TEAM              + 00' 13"
18  VINOKOUROV Alexandre   PRO TEAM ASTANA            + 00' 13"
19  GALLOPIN Tony          COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE + 00' 13"
20  KLÖDEN Andréas         TEAM RADIOSHACK            + 00' 13"

76  WIGGINS Bradley        SKY PROCYCLING             + 00' 13"
140 THOMAS Geraint         SKY PROCYCLING             + 13' 10"
162 LLOYD Daniel           TEAM GARMIN - CERVELO      + 13' 10"
163 HUNT Jeremy            SKY PROCYCLING             + 13' 10"


Paris-Nice Overall Standings after Stage 4 
1   DE GENDT Thomas        VACANSOLEIL-DCM          19h 26' 46"
2   VOECKLER Thomas        TEAM EUROPCAR              + 00' 10"
3   PAURIOL Rémi           FDJ                        + 00' 16"
4   GOSS Matthew Harley    HTC - HIGHROAD             + 00' 21"
5   DI GREGORIO Rémy       PRO TEAM ASTANA            + 00' 24"
6   HAUSSLER Heinrich      TEAM GARMIN - CERVELO      + 00' 27"
7   ROY Jérémy             FDJ                        + 00' 30"
8   GALLOPIN Tony          COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE + 00' 31"
9   GAUTIER Cyril          TEAM EUROPCAR              + 00' 32"
10  VOIGT Jens             TEAM LEOPARD-TREK          + 00' 35"
11  FEILLU Romain          VACANSOLEIL-DCM            + 00' 36"
12  KADRI Blel             AG2R LA MONDIALE           + 00' 36"
13  WYSS Danilo            BMC RACING TEAM            + 00' 37"
14  PINEAU Jérôme          QUICK STEP CYCLING TEAM    + 00' 37"
15  GAVAZZI Francesco      LAMPRE - ISD               + 00' 37"
16  KLÖDEN Andréas         TEAM RADIOSHACK            + 00' 37"
17  ROCHE Nicolas          AG2R LA MONDIALE           + 00' 37"
18  PASAMONTES Luis        MOVISTAR TEAM              + 00' 37"
19  GERDEMANN Linus        TEAM LEOPARD-TREK          + 00' 37"
20  JEANNESSON Arnold      FDJ                        + 00' 37"

66  WIGGINS Bradley        SKY PROCYCLING             + 00' 37"
125 THOMAS Geraint         SKY PROCYCLING             + 13' 34"
132 LLOYD Daniel       	   TEAM GARMIN - CERVELO      + 13' 34"
157 HUNT Jeremy	           SKY PROCYCLING	      + 20' 02"