March 27, 2004
Criterium International: J-P Nazon takes sprint finish
The peloton let Guillaume Auger gain more than 19 minutes on the road, then slowly reeled him in. In the end, it was almost predictable: a stage win by Jean-Patrick Nazon, who won here in 2002, and whose brother Damien won here last year. Jean-Patrick Nazon also won the final stage of the 2003 Tour, on the Champs-Elysees.
Gerolsteiner took 2nd and 3rd on the day, with Marcus Zberg placing, and Peter Wrolich showing. In a short stage race like this, every second can make a difference, so some of the big names were looking for sprint bonuses today. Jens Voigt of CSC, T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov, and US Postal's Lance Armstrong all factored in intermediate sprints.
Joseba Beloki, finally back in competition after the fall in Stage 9 of last year's Tour, took another spill. Though he was able to continue, he was quickly off the back, and finished last on the day.
The GC roughly parallels the stage finish, but those bonus points shook things up a bit:
2) Zberg, 4 secs
3) Wrolich, 6 secs
4) Jens Voigt, same time
5) Alexandre Vinokourov, 8 secs
6) Alexandre Usov, 9 secs
7) Danilo di Luca, same time
8) Lance Armstrong, same time
9) Thor Hushovd, 10 secs
10) Baden Cooke, same time
Tomorrow, a very hilly 60-mile stage with 7 categorized climbs, then a 5-mile individual time trial in the afternoon.
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