Boonen Wins Stage 1 of Paris-Nice
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has won Stage 1 of Paris-Nice. The Belgian took a 23-man bunch sprint from Luciano Pagliarini (Liquigas) and Jaan Kirsipuu (Credit Agricole) to take the flat, 186.5-km run from Etampes to Chabris in 4:19:15. Erik Dekker (Rabobank) has taken the overall lead from prologue winner Jens Voigt (CSC).
The stage was ridden in the cold. At about 45 km, Fabien Sanchez (La Francaise des Jeux.com) and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Liberty Seguros) made the break of the day. The duo sallied off of the front and, aided by a crash that took Robert Hunter (Phonak) out of the race at 81 km, ran up a 7:55 lead by 101 km. At that point, CSC began to chase in support of overall leader Voigt. Quick Step and Liquigas helped in support of Boonen and Pagliarini, respectively.
With 20 km left, 1:20 separated the bunch from the break. Nine km later, the peloton reeled in the fugitives. The pace slowed, and a crash occurred at 178 km. The field split into several groups, and about 25 riders, including Boonen, Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears), Dekker, and Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), found themselves in the lead.
At the one-km banner, Voeckler made his move. The Quick Steppers, however, reeled in the Frenchman and led out Boonen. Another crash occurred, but Boonen would not be denied. He won the sprint by two bike lengths from Pagliarini, who nipped Kirsipuu.
In the overall, Dekker leads Voigt (they have the same time), with Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) third at 0:02. Stage 2, a rolling, 191-km ride from La Chatre to Thiers, should end in a sprint? Who will take the stage? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!