Wednesday’s weather-shortened stage into Aurillac was a tale of the oldest and the youngest at the 68th Paris-Nice.
The pack’s oldest rider, Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), proved he’s still got the knockout punch at 38 by following a searing attack by Alberto Contador (Astana) over a short, but very steep second-category climb with 3km to go to sneak into the yellow jersey.
And the youngest rider, 20-year-old Peter Sagan (Liquigas), proved he can tangle with the big boys by winning out of a six-man group just a day after finishing second into Limoges.
“There’s a difference of 18 years between us,” a happy Voigt pointed out after taking the yellow jersey from Lars Boom (Rabobank). “If there’s a white jersey for younger riders, I think there should be a jersey for riders over 35. Call it the maillot gris.”
“It was good for me to be with that group because I gained a few seconds on the others. I was really suffering to try to stay with Contador when he attacked. He is impressive,” Voigt said. “Tomorrow will be very important and we’ll see how I can do on Mende.”
There might not be a gray jersey yet, but Voigt takes the yellow jersey in an explosive stage that saw the surprising Sagan take the young rider’s white jersey as well as the green points jersey.
“I am very satisfied with how I am performing so far at the ProTour races,” said Sagan, who slots into second overall six seconds back. “I was helping (Roman) Kreuziger on the final climb and when I looked back, he wasn’t there, so I just kept following the others. I got into front position with 200 meters to go and was able to win. I am very happy.”
Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) finished 38th in a big group at six seconds back and slots into seventh overall at 24 seconds back to keep alive his podium chances. David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) was 28th in the same group to remain fourth at 12 seconds back.
1. Peter Sagan (Slovakia), Liquigas
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spain), Katusha
3. Nicolas Roche (Ireland), AG2R
4. Jens Voigt (Germany), Saxo Bank
5. Tony Martin (Germany), HTC-Columbia
Top ten GC:
1. Jens Voigt (G), Saxo Bank, 12:40:26
2. Peter Sagan (Svk), Liquigas, at 0:06
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:09
4. David Millar (G￼, Garmin, at 0:12
5. Robert Kreuziger (Cz), Liquigas, at 0:14
6. Lars Boom (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:20
7. Alberto Contador (Sp), Astana, at 0:20
8. Levi Leipheimer (USA), RadioShack, at 0:24
9. Joaquim Rodriguez (Sp), Katusha, at 0:28
10. Xavier Tondo (Sp), Cervelo TestTeam, at 0:28