March 13, 2004
Paris-Nice: Menchov a smart victory, Jaksche holds overall
After three riders gapped the field with about 6 miles to go, 2003 Tour white jersey winner Denis Menchov crossed over to the three — Floyd Landis of US Postal, Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel-Euskadi, and Dave Bruylandts of Chocolade Jacques — then took the 4-man sprint at the line, aided when Landis threw a chain in the final hundred meters.
"One of the things that helped me achieve this was the fact that I hadn't really worked that hard for most of the day," the 26-year-old Russian said afterward. "I quietly stayed in the peloton so that I could approach the end of the stage in a relatively fresh state. As I felt good, and I remembered the course a bit from the Tour de France last year, I thought I'd try my luck."
Friday's stage was considered the hardest of the race, which ends Sunday. CSC's Jorg Jaksche, the overall leader, said he's still not comfortable with 14 seconds on Davide Rebellin:
"It's not over even if I think that today was the most difficult," said the German. "I fear above all Sunday's stage, the last day. Vandenbroucke is getting stronger and stronger, and I would have liked to have a bit more of a lead on Rebellin."
CSC remains bunched atop the standings, with Jaksche first, Bobby Julich 3rd at 42 seconds, and Jens Voigt 4th at 46 seconds. Among the non-CSC riders, Gerolsteiner's Rebellin is 2nd at 14 seconds, US Postal's George Hincapie is 5th at 48 seconds, then Frank Vandenbroucke is 6th at 58 seconds.