Stage 8: Luis Leon Sanchez Wins From the Break, Yellow Jersey Hot Potato

CYCLING: MAR 14 Paris-Nice 2009 - Stage 7

Luis Leon Sanchez won from the break after playing the tactics of the last 3km perfectly, egging on his breakaway companions to chase back Vladimir Efimkin, then launching his own sprint for the line. Sanchez's win should take away some of the sting of losing Oscar Pereiro, who retired from fatigue.

The tactics back in the peloton were more interesting as it looked like Saxo Bank was trying to put Astana's Contador in yellow. It's not often that you see a team trying to put its rival in yellow, though it makes sense: Astana doesn't want to wear itself out, especially with so many "leaders" and not so many domestiques (though Kloden and Leipheimer have moved into support roles). Astana made no secret of the fact that they wanted Nocentini in yellow and I'm sure they were disappointed to see AG2R pay them back by putting riders in all the breaks and not chasing.

Saxo Bank's "Get Contador in Yellow" campaign started when Andy Schleck put in an attack on the final climb, which Levi Leipheimer ably controlled. Sure enough, all the GC contenders made it. The only rider of import left behind was Nocentini in yellow. Saxo Bank certainly doesn't feel threatened by Nocentini, but they continued to press the attack with Frank Schleck. Contador was in virtual yellow.

Astana worked its way back into control of this group and then proceeded to slow it down so that Nocentini could catch back on. AG2R may not be the willing defenders they were looking for, but clearly Astana wanted to use them for one more day.

Levi Leipheimer was impressive as a lieutenant today as he spent a lot of time in the wind today throughout the stage to control the race.

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