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Sanchez basks in Paris-Nice triumph

LUIS Leon Sanchez won the Paris-Nice race despite a bold raid from fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador on the eighth and last stage around Nice yesterday.

Another Spaniard, Antonio Colom of Katusha, was the first to cross the line at the end of the 119-kilometer ride featuring three category-one climbs, when he outsprinted Astana's Contador and Luxemburg's Frank Schleck of Saxo Bank.

Caisse d'Epargne rider Sanchez, who took the overall lead with victory on Saturday, ended the stage 17 seconds behind in the provisional standings, keeping his yellow jersey with a one-minute advantage over Schleck. France's Sylvain Chavanel of Quick Step was third, nine seconds further behind with Contador, who lost the lead when he cracked on Saturday, in fourth place 1.24 off the pace.

Astana leader Contador attacked just before the foot of the Col de la Porte, a 7.2-km climb at an average gradient of 7.2 percent. The peloton climbed at a high pace and opened a gap of 2.30 over Sanchez, who lost several seconds with a puncture on the ascent.

On the descent, the Saxo Bank team set the pace for the peloton and Contador's lead had been reduced to 15 seconds before the ascent of the Col de la Turbie.


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