Landis gives U.S. second race win
NICE, France (Reuters) -- Floyd Landis became the second American to win the Paris-Nice cycle race on Sunday following Bobby Julich's 2005 triumph.
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.
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 California.
"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 reporters.
"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 Phonak.
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 d'Eze.
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 Contador.
Antonio Colom of Spain finished third overall.
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