Alberto Contador wrested the overall lead in the Paris-Nice cycle race on Friday with a commanding victory on the testing sixth stage.
Contador was always expected to make his move on the “mini-Ventoux” in a summit finish to the stage at La Montagne de Lur and did not disappoint. Germany’s Jens Voigt made the early move on the 13.8 kilometer climb before Contador jumped out of a whittled down main group to turn the screw. The Astana rider quickly shrugged off the attention of Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck and fellow Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez and rode alone to the finish. Previous race leader Sylvain Chavanel bravely tried to limit his losses after holding a 36-second lead over Contador at the start of the day, but wilted towards the top. Contador now leads by one minute and 13 seconds from Sanchez with Chavanel 1.24 back with two days to go of the annual “Race to the Sun”. The Spaniard, who is only the fifth rider in history to hold the Tour de France, Tour of Spain and Giro d’Italia titles at the same time, is set to lock horns with teammate Lance Armstrong later this season. Armstrong, who is not riding in the Paris-Nice, is competing in the Giro in May before attempting an eighth Tour de France victory. But Contador’s early season form indicates that he will tough to beat as he bids to repeat his 2007 Tour success. In the Tirreno-Adriatico, Tyler Farrar of the United States outsprinted Mark Cavendish to win the third stage from Fececchio to Santa Croce. British sprint star Cavendish (Team Columbia-Highroad) was surprised by the Garmin team rider in the last 20 meters with Enrico Rossi of Italy in third. Julien El Fares of France retained his 15-second lead in the overall standings.