Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Thomas Voeckler victorious in Belleville
Once again at Paris-Nice the long breakaway foiled the best efforts of the sprinters, as French champion Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) won stage four from a four-man break in Belleville. Voeckler outkicked Rémi Pauriol (FDJ), Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Rémy Di Gregorio (Astana) for the victory, while Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) won the field sprint for fifth place 13 seconds later.
One day after surrendering his leader's jersey to Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad), De Gendt rode himself back into the yellow jersey in an improbable break which lasted nearly the entire stage. The Belgian won both of the intermediate sprints en route to the finish, picked up bonus seconds at the finish line and bested the peloton by 13 seconds to secure a return to the leader's jersey. De Gendt now leads breakaway companion Voeckler by 10 seconds and Pauriol by 16 seconds overall.