Spaniard Alberto Contador wins Paris-Nice

19th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

NICE, France, March 18, 2007 (AFP) - Spaniard Alberto Contador of Discovery Channel capped an audacious attack late in the final stage of Paris-Nice here on Sunday to claim overall victory ahead of Italian Davide Rebellin.

NICE, France, March 18, 2007 (AFP) - Spaniard Alberto Contador of Discovery Channel capped an audacious attack late in the final stage of Paris-Nice here on Sunday to claim overall victory ahead of Italian Davide Rebellin.

The 24-year-old, whose career almost ended in 2004 when he had to undergo a brain operation, won the final stage and the race's yellow jersey in dramatic fashion to claim his first major victory of the season.

Contador also won a stage earlier in the race, and claimed a stage in the recent Tour of Valencia - but it was Sunday's win, the biggest of his career, that will be giving his rivals nightmares about his future potential.

Rebellin had started the day with a six-second lead on the Spaniard and was forced to battle in the last 16km before finishing agonisingly in eighth place at 22sec behind Contador.

It meant he dropped to second overall in the event known as the 'Race to the Sun', in which he also finished second in 2004, behind German Jorg Jaksche.

A day earlier the veteran Italian had managed to keep a calm head and shake off an attack by Contador before the Spanish ace wilted in the closing stages and Rebellin retained the yellow jersey.

However on Sunday the Discovery Channel team, made famous by now-retired seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, went out to make sure Contador was given another bite at the cherry.

After controlling much of the race in the latter stages the team were only too happy to see Contador take flight six kilometres from the summit of the Col d'Eze, one of several featuring on the relatively short 129km stage.

With 16km still to race Rebellin had, crucially, been left shorn of any of his Gerolsteiner teammates and failed to follow. By the time he did, along with several other riders, he was soon chasing a 30-sec lead by Contador, whose prowess for climbing came to the fore in timely fashion.

The Italian nevertheless failed to give up, and even launched a solo, futile pursuit of the Spaniard in the closing two kilometres in the hope of claiming the bonus seconds on offer at the finish.

Contador came over the finish line savouring his double achievement, and 19 seconds later Spaniards David Lopez and Joaquim Rodriguez took second and third places respectively.

Rebellin crossed the finish three seconds later.

Madrid native Contador, a professional only since 2003, is considered one of Spain's biggest stage race prospects.

But he admitted his Italian rival had kept him on his toes.

"I was scared right up to the final kilometre that Rebellin would catch me," he said.

"It was only at the red flag (to signal the final kilometre) that I knew my victory was safe. It's the biggest win of my career."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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