Germany's Jaksche wins Paris-Nice cycle race

15th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

NICE, France, March 14 (AFP) - CSC team manager Bjarne Riis was forced on the defensive here Sunday after watching Jorg Jaksche win Paris-Nice, the first major stage race of the season, after the eighth and final stage was won by Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov.

NICE, France, March 14 (AFP) - CSC team manager Bjarne Riis was forced on the defensive here Sunday after watching Jorg Jaksche win Paris-Nice, the first major stage race of the season, after the eighth and final stage was won by Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov.

The 27-year-old Jaksche, from Germany, took control of the race on the opening day's time trial and retained the leader's yellow jersey throughout mainly thanks to his team's support and wily tactics.CSC also had American Bobby Julich finish third and German Jens Voigt take fourth place.

It is the second major win of the season for Jaksche, a former ONCE rider who since switching from the now defunct Spanish team has blossomed. Last month he won the Tour of the Mediterranean stage race.

In the overall standings he finished 15secs ahead of Gerolsteiner team leader Davide Rebellin to become only the second German after Andreas Kloeden to win the race.

As a result of their top placings Riis - whose team ripped the race apart on numerous occasions - has had to fight off suspicions that his team had been doping.

"For the past three days I don't think we've been stronger than any other teams," said the 1996 Tour de France winner, whose acquisition of Jaksche, Julich and Voigt in the off-season appears to have been a master stroke.

"I think we simply rode well in the first few days, and came up with some good tactics. We spent a lot of time working as a collective. I don't see a lot of teams riding like us.

"There are some journalists who say anything without actually looking at our performances."

T-Mobile rider Vinokourov, the third place finisher in last year's Tour de France, picked up his third stage win on this year's race, which he had won for the past two years.

Vinokourov had said at the start of the "Race to the Sun" that he was only interested in going for stage wins, and that he did with gusto.

After winning his first stage on Thursday - the day before the first year anniversary of the tragic death of his close friend and compatriot Andrei Kivilev - "Vino" doubled up to win Saturday's stage.

On Sunday's 144 km stage Vinokourov, who gave Lance Armstrong a fright on last year's Tour, broke away from his group on the third climb of the Col d'Eze around 20 km from the finish.

Only Russian Denis Menchov, the Baleares rider who won Friday's stage, managed to keep pace with the softly-spoken Kazakh who pulled ahead of the little climber as the finish line approached.

The rest of the peloton arrived over a minute later.

The Paris-Nice is the first major stage race of the European season, and is known as the Race to the Sun.

This year, however, proved the opposite as the peloton battled in the early stages against freezing temperatures, snow, and adverse conditions - which forced the cancellation of Wednesday's stage.

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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