Spaniard Xavier Tondo wins sixth stage of Paris-Nice
CERVELO Test-Team's Xavier Tondo captured the biggest win of his career, escaping from the peloton late on to claim the sixth and penultimate stage of the Paris-Nice.
The 31-year old streamed clear on the category 1 climb Col de Vence and despite the best efforts of Alejandre Valverde and his Caisse d'Epargne team at the front of the peloton, the Spaniard held on for victory.
Vuelta a Espana champion Valverde eventually led the peloton home 5 seconds back in second with Peter Sagan adding to his two stage wins with a third place.
But the star of the show in Tourrettes-sur-Loup was Tondo, claiming victory in his first season for Cervelo.
Lampre's Damiano Cunego had initially made a move to join Tondo at the front, but the Spaniard ignored the opportunity to work together for a lead and justified his decision to press on alone by claiming the stage win.
"I saw Cunego coming but I know he is a good sprinter and that would not have been good for me," said Tondo.
"I made a big mistake yesterday because I didn't follow the change in rhythm on the climb and lost more than two minutes at the back of the group.
"But that gave me a better opportunity to go with the breakaway today and it's an incredible feeling to have won."
Astana's race leader Alberto Contador finished in the peleton but saw his lead in the general classification over Valverde slip to 14 seconds with Liquigas' Roman Kreuziger another 11 secs back in third.
Meanwhile, defending champion Michele Scarponi made a similar break in the Tirreno - Adriatico to win the fourth stage in Chieti.
The 30-year old, who won two stages of the Giro d'Italia last season, broke from the peloton to catch a breakaway group of seven riders before powering away from them in the final kilometres to take the win by 14 seconds.
The win propels the Androni Giocattoli rider into top spot in the general classification with 18 seconds in hand on second-placed Benoit Vaugrenard and 20 seconds on teammate Leonardo Bertagnolli in third.