Andreas Kloeden Climbs to Win in Stage 5 of 2011 Paris-Nice
Eleven years after winning the Paris-Nice race, German Andreas Kloeden earlier today proved he is still a force to be reckoned with when he won the hilly 193 km fifth stage.
Eleven years after winning the Paris-Nice race, German Andreas Kloeden earlier today proved he is still a force to be reckoned with when he won the hilly 193-km fifth stage.
Kloeden, 35, twice a Tour de France runner-up, has never totally fulfilled his promise and the win in the small village of Vernoux-en-Vivarais was a rare high in a up-and-down career of more than 14 seasons.
Set up by RadioShack team mate Janez Brajkovic, Kloeden outsprinted Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez of Spain (Team Euskaltel) on the line to clinch his first major win in almost two years.
"I never thought I could beat Samuel Sanchez in a sprint. But thanks to Janez. He led the sprint very well," said the man who spent most of his early career in the shadow of compatriot Jan Ullrich before putting himself at the service of Lance Armstrong.
With most of his generation now retired, "Klodi" can have legitimate ambitions of further success during the remainder of the race, especially in Friday's 27-kms individual time trial in Aix-en-Provence.
The timed test could be an all-German affair as pre-race favourite Tony Martin, one of the best time trial specialists, finished fourth in the stage on the same time as his compatriot and trails him by only 10 seconds overall.
Kloeden was among a group of eight riders who broke clear in the final descent from the gruelling Col de la Mure, nine kms from the finish line.
Among the riders dropped was the race leader at the start, Belgium's Thomas de Gendt, who crossed the line 15 minutes after the leading eight.
France's Arthur Vichot crashed in a ravine as the pace was increasing in the final descent and broke his collarbone.
In the finale, Brajkovic launched the sprint with Kloeden on his wheel, the German eventually surprising Sanchez and Italy's Matteo Carrara, who took third place. The same three lead the overall standings.
"For sure, we'll try to defend the yellow jersey but we'll see from day to day," Kloeden added.
"Tomorrow is a hard time trial and also the last four days were very hard and nervous. I hope the legs stay like this and I can also do a good time trial."
"I started my sprint and saw Sammy Sánchez was coming but now I'm happy. "I cannot remember when I won my last race in a sprint. It is not really my specialty but Jani Brajkovic told me to get on his wheel, that he would lead the sprint for me and I thought I might as well try. I was in a good position. It's great for me since I also get the yellow jersey. It's also great for the team. I am so happy," Klöden added.
"I came to this race with ambitions," Klöden continued and added "but I never thought to take the yellow jersey. On the other hand, up to now I've had a good season. In Mallorca and Algarve I already saw that my condition was better than the other years. I am lucky with the weather too. I hate cold and rain, but here in Paris-Nice we can't complain about the weather. I survived the first nervous days without major crashes. Today I was ready for a good performance. A victory is of course more than expected."
Team RadioShack Sports Director Alain Gallopin was a very happy man after today's queen stage of the Paris-Nice 2011. "The first days we left the initiative to the others. Today we started to take command in the race and we controlled the race the whole day with the complete team. In the end it was up to Jani Brajkovic, Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer - our three leaders - to finish the job. They didn't disappoint us," Gallopin told Roadcycling.com/Roadcycling.mobi.
"It will be hard to win this Paris-Nice, as tomorrow we have a very hard 27 kilometer/16.8 mile time trial and we know Tony Martin will be very good," Paris-Nice overall leader Andreas Klöden analyzed and added "It's hard to beat him in a time trial and he was very good today too. It's hard to defend the jersey but I'm going to try. For me it's not important how old you are. You have to stay motivated. I know I am a good rider. I work hard and today is the result. I will try everything and we will see tomorrow," Kloeden added and then left for a well-deserved hot shower.
Among the favourites in tomorrow's potentially decisive time trial are Briton Bradley Wiggins, Australia's Mick Rogers, Germany's Tony Martin, and Kloeden's American team mate Levi Leipheimer, who all lie 29 seconds behind the German overall.
Watch video highlights from the 2011 Tirreno-Adriatico in the videos section here on Roadcycling.com after each day's stage.
Download Roadcycling.com's new cycling iPhone app online at http://itunes.apple.com/app/roadcycling-cycling-app/id395146493