Paris-Nice stage 7: Remy Di Gregorio scores a home turf win on tough day in the hills

Martin keeps the lead with Wiggo still third

by Dave Atkinson   March 12, 2011  

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Astana took the honours in stage seven of the Paris-Nice today as Remy Di Gregorio launched himself off the front with 10km to go and managed to stay ahead in the run-in to take the line. The Marseille-born rider took the spoils on home turf on the longest day of this year's race, coming home five seconds ahead of Samuel Sanchez (EUS) and Riboerto Uran (SKY). Tony Martin (THR) finished fifth on the stage to maintain his lead over Andreas Klöden (RAD) who crossed the line with his German compatriot. Sky's Bradley Wiggins finished two seconds back in 8th place to hang on to third overall.

Today's stage of 215km Brignoles to Biot - Sophia Antipolis, with five categorised climbs, was always going to be a big ask after six days of racing and so it proved to be. Three riders didn't make it to the start and a steady stream were spat out the back of the field over the course of the stage in rainy and treacherous conditions. Martijn Maaskant (GRM) was one to pull out, although since it was later discovered he'd broken seven ribs in the crash that saw him abandon, we'll let him off. Eric Berthou (BSC) and Karsten Kroon (BMC) weren't feeling heavy in the legs though, springing off the front and cresting the Col du Ferrier, the highest point on the stage, nearly five minutes ahead of the pack.

As the race continued the peloton split into two, and strong work by Movistar reduced the deficit; Kroon left Berthou to go it alone but the gap kept coming down. Heinrich Haussler (GRM) went down heavily in the chase but was back on the front soon after to head up the pursuit, which saw Kroon caught at the 200km mark.

The last section saw the riders run in to Biot - Sophia Antipolis and back out again for a final loop, and Di Gregorio took his chance and attacked at a junction to build up a small lead. Linus Gerdemann (LEO) gave chase but to no avail, and although the bunch reduced the deficit by 15 seconds in the last kilometre they couldn't quite catch the Frenchman, who took some risks to cross the line five seconds ahead of the chasers.

Result of stage 7

2 SANCHEZ Samuel EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 5h 46' 28" + 00' 05"
3 URAN Rigoberto SKY PROCYCLING 5h 46' 28" + 00' 05"
4 KLÖDEN Andréas TEAM RADIOSHACK 5h 46' 30" + 00' 07"
5 MARTIN Tony HTC - HIGHROAD 5h 46' 30" + 00' 07"
6 TAARAMAE Rein COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 5h 46' 30" + 00' 07"
7 BRAJKOVIC Janez TEAM RADIOSHACK 5h 46' 32" + 00' 09"
8 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 5h 46' 32" + 00' 09"
9 TONDO Xavier MOVISTAR TEAM 5h 46' 32" + 00' 09"
10 MONFORT Maxime TEAM LEOPARD-TREK 5h 46' 34" + 00' 11"

Overall standings

1 MARTIN Tony HTC - HIGHROAD 30h 46' 17"
2 KLÖDEN Andréas TEAM RADIOSHACK 30h 46' 53" + 00' 36"
3 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 30h 46' 58" + 00' 41"
4 TAARAMAE Rein COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 30h 47' 27" + 01' 10"
5 PERAUD Jean-Christophe AG2R LA MONDIALE 30h 47' 38" + 01' 21"
6 SANCHEZ Samuel EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 30h 47' 46" + 01' 29"
7 BRAJKOVIC Janez TEAM RADIOSHACK 30h 47' 51" + 01' 34"
8 LEIPHEIMER Levi TEAM RADIOSHACK 30h 47' 53" + 01' 36"
9 TONDO Xavier MOVISTAR TEAM 30h 48' 10" + 01' 53"
10 MOLLEMA Bauke RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM 30h 48' 21" + 02' 04"