March 12, 2006

Landis wins Paris-Nice race

By Gilles Le Roc'h

NICE, France (Reuters) - Floyd Landis kept the Paris-Nice
race in American hands on Sunday by winning his second stage
race of the season.

The Phonak team leader retained his nine-second lead over
Spaniard Patxi Vila on the seventh and final stage in Nice
following his victory in the Tour of California last month.

Landis finished in the main pack on the seafront Promenade
des Anglais, 18 seconds behind stage winner Markus Zberg of
Switzerland. American Bobby Julich won Paris-Nice in 2005.

Landis, a former team mate of seven times Tour de France
winner Lance Armstrong, set up his victory on the third stage
when he broke away with Vila on the first big climb of the
week-long race, the Col de La Republique.

Vila snatched victory in that stage but Landis controlled
the rest of the race, a similar winning pattern to the Tour of

"I did not expect to be in such shape so early in the
season and to win here after the Tour of California," he told

"But Paris-Nice is becoming a bit of an American race and
I'm very proud to add my name to the winners' list of such a
prestigious event," said Landis, 30, who is already thinking
about July's Tour de France.

"I'm going to sleep first. And then I will work on a
strategy and a preparation for the big race in July," said
Landis, who was ninth overall in the 2005 Tour riding for

In Sunday's final 135-km stage around Nice, which included
three category one climbs, Landis was never in serious danger.

Julich, who had won the race prologue, did not start the
stage while world champion Tom Boonen, who won three stages
during the week, threw in the towel and took the plane to Milan
to prepare for next week's Milan-San Remo classic.

Frenchman David Moncoutie tackled the first climbs in the
lead to go for the best climber's polka dot jersey and a break
of five riders took shape on the Col de la Turbie and Col

Zberg, second overall in 1999, was in that group and four
managed to hold an 16-second lead to the finish where Zberg
outsprinted Yevgeny Petrov of Russia and Spain's Alberto

Antonio Colom of Spain finished third overall.