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Grand Prix La Marseillaise, 37th Etoile de Bessèges. Preview
By Podofdonny
Date: 2/5/2007
Grand Prix La Marseillaise, 37th Etoile de Bessèges. Preview

The Grand Prix La Marseillaise opens the European season followed by the 37th edition of the Etoile de Bessèges. Preview , start list and former winners…..

Early season action – courtesy Daily Peloton

Despite the scandals and disputes cycling racing once again makes its debut on the old continent tomorrow.

The peloton will begin its prelude to the symphony of the season at the one day race tomorrow, the Grand Prix d'Ouverture-La Marseillaise. The next day the 37th edition of the Etoile de Bessèges starts the stage racing season.

18 Teams will contest the two races, including seven ProTour teams who are Ag2r, Bouygues Telecom, Crédit Agricole, Cofidis and Fdjeux, the Belgian team and T-Mobile. Usually the teams keep just about the same squads for both races.

Tomorrow in the Bouches-du-Rhône, 128 riders will contest the race, won last year by Baden Cooke, between Gardanne and Luminy over a course of 126 kilomètres.

The course goes through the heart of the Massif de la Sainte-Baume and crosses the Petit Galibier, the col de la Sainte-Baume , Nans-les-Pins and l'Espigoulier. No doubt the col de la Gineste 7 km from the finish will see a flurry of attacks and counter attacks. Not giant mountains, but enough to warm the legs up and encourage the breakaways to make their escape.

On Wednesday the 37th edition of the Etoile de Bessèges begins in Pézenas and will finish on Sunday in Bessèges. The five stages will no doubt be hotly contested with finishes at Palavas-les-Flots, Saint-Ambroix, La Grand Combe, Les Fumades and Bessèges.

The sprinters will be looking for early season success to inspire confidence and morale for the coming season. Those who should be in the thick of the action include Jimmy Casper and Baden Cooke (, Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux) and Nico Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen). Other teams will be hoping that the undulating roads which dominate the race will give them chance to get into a good breakaway. Regardless, the “Maillot Corail” of the race leader will be hotly contested.

Tinkoff – courtesy Sirotti

The race see’s the return to competition of Tyler Hamilton (Tinkoff Credit System) after two years suspension for dopage.

Other big names making an early start in France are Laurent Brochard (Bouygues Telecom), Christophe Moreau (Ag2r Prévoyance), Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux), Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole), Axel Merckx (T-Mobile), and Nick Nuyens (Cofidis). Last years winner,Frederik Willems, will not be defending the “Maillot Corail” since his new Liquigas Team will be racing in Spain and Italy.

The T Mobile Angle

It is a first race outing for new sporting director Allan Peiper, who’s looking forward to getting behind the wheel: "The lads put in the hard work in training onMallorca. Now I am keen to see how the training efforts pay off when the races begin," says the Australian.

The two new Britons in the team, the veteran Roger Hammond and young gun Mark Cavendish, team up for the first time in Magenta on Tuesday: “Mark is really fast. I was watching him during sprint training on Mallorca, and the way he sprints is very aggressive,” observes Peiper. “Roger can help him adapt and take advantage of that."

Sprint specialist André Greipel will spearhead the team’s challenge in bunch finishes. The German speedster placed second on the fourth and longest stage of the ‘Star’ tour last season, and will be keen to go one place better this time round.

"We can count on the likes of Greipel, Cavendish or even Hammond to make their presence felt in sprint situations," says Allan Peiper, who can also draw on the experienced team debutants Axel Merckx (Belgium) and Marco Pinotti (Italy) as tactical options for attacks and breakaways.

The stages :

1re étape (mercredi 7 février) : Pézenas-Palavas-les-Flots (147 km)
2ème étape (jeudi 8 février) : Nîmes-Saint-Ambroix (149 km)
3ème étape (vendredi 9 février) : Cendras-La Grand Combe (138 km)
4ème étape (samedi 10 février) : Les Fumades-Les Fumades (151 km)
5ème étape (dimanche 11 février) : Gagnières-Bessèges (148 km)

The Teams

Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen (BEL) : 1. Nico Eeckhout (BEL), 2. Nikolas Maes (BEL), 3. Frederic Veuchelen (BEL), 4. Glenn D'Hollander (BEL), 5. Jelle Vanendert (BEL), 6. Koen Barbé (BEL), 7. Jens Renders (BEL), 8. Wesley Van der Linden (BEL)

Française des Jeux (FRA) : 11. Ludovic Auger (FRA), 12. Sébastien Chavanel (FRA), 13. Carlos Da Cruz (FRA), 14. Christophe Detilloux (BEL), 15. Philippe Gilbert (BEL), 16. Frédéric Guesdon (FRA), 17. Sébastien Joly (FRA), 18. Thierry Marichal (BEL)

Crédit Agricole (FRA) : 21. Christophe Edaleine (FRA), 22. Jimmy Engoulvent (FRA), 23. Patrice Halgand (FRA), 24. Christophe Laurent (FRA), 25. Nicolas Roche (IRL), 26. Jean-Marc Marino (FRA), 27. Pierre Rolland (FRA), 28. Yannick Talabardon (FRA)

Bretagne-Armor Lux (FRA) : 31. Stéphane Bonsergent (FRA), 32. Antoine Dalibard (FRA), 33. Jean-Luc Delpech (FRA), 34. Sébastien Duret (FRA), 35. Charles Guilbert (FRA), 36. David Lelay (FRA), 37. Stéphane Pétilleau (FRA), 38. Noan Lelarge (FRA)

Landbouwkrediet-Tonissteiner (BEL) : 41. Bert De Waele (BEL), 42. Andy Cappelle (BEL), 43. Frédéric Amorisson (BEL), 44. David Boucher (FRA), 45. Frédéric Gabriel (FRA), 46. Bert Scheirlinckx (BEL), 47. James Vanlandschoot (BEL), 48. Jan Kuyckx (BEL)

T-Mobile (ALL) : 51. Lorenzo Bernucci (ITA), 52. Mark Cavendish (GBR), 53. André Greipel (ALL), 54. Roger Hammond (GBR), 55. Marco Pinotti (ITA), 56. Scott Davis (AUT), 57. Axel Merckx (BEL), 58. Frantisek Rabon (CZH)

Roubaix Lille Métropole (FRA) : 61. Paul Brousse (FRA), 62. Yauheni Hutarovitch (BLR), 63. Arnaud Lesvenan (FRA), 64. Mickael Larpe (FRA), 65. Frédéric Finot (FRA), 66. David Derepas (FRA), 67. Jean Zen (FRA), 68. Cédric Pineau (FRA)

Cofidis (FRA) : 71. Nick Nuyens (BEL), 72. Mathieu Heijboer (PBS), 73. Geoffroy Le Quatre (FRA), 74. Sébastien Minard (FRA), 75. Michiel Elijzen (PBS), 76. Franck Hoj (DAN), 77. Staf Scheirlinckx (BEL), 78. Kevin De Weert (BEL) (BEL) : 81. Matteo Carrara (ITA), 82. Jimmy Casper (FRA), 83. Baden Cooke (AUS), 84. Arnaud Coyot (FRA), 85. Gorik Gardeyn (FRA), 86. Jeremy Hunt (GBR), 87. Erwin Thys (BEL), 88.. Matthew Wilson (AUS)

Auber 93 (FRA) : 91. Niels Brouzes (FRA), 92. Steve Chainel (FRA), 93. Christophe Diguet (FRA), 94. Mathieu Drujon (FRA), 95. Florian Morizot (FRA), 96. Maxime Médérel (FRA), 97. Jean Mespoulède (FRA), 98. Renaud Pioline (FRA)

Agritubel (FRA) : 101. Hans Dekkers (PBS), 102. Benoit Sinner (FRA), 103. Freddy Bichot (FRA), 104. Cedric Coutouly (FRA), 105. Cédric Hervé (FRA), 106. Nicolas Jalabert (FRA), 107. Freddy Ravaleu (FRA), 108. Nicolas Vogondy (FRA)

Tinkoff Credit System (RUS) : 111. Daniele Contrini (ITA), 112. Tyler Hamilton (USA), 113. Evgeny Petrov (RUS), 114. Mikhail Ignatiev (RUS), 115. Nikolai Trussov (RUS), 116. Ricardo Serrano (ESP), 117. Vasil Kyryenka (BLR), 118. Alexander Serov (RUS)

Ag2r Prévoyance (FRA) : 121. Christophe Moreau (FRA), 122. Renaud Dion (FRA), 123. Hubert Dupont (FRA), 124. Stéphane Goubert (FRA), 125. Christophe Riblon (FRA), 126. Martin Elmiger (SUI), 127. Ludovic Turpin (FRA), 128. Laurent Mangel (FRA)

Bouygues Telecom (FRA) : 131. Julien Belgy (FRA), 132. Giovanni Bernaudeau (FRA), 133. Laurent Brochard (FRA), 134. Stef Clement (PBS), 135. Nicolas Crosbie (FRA), 136. Andy Flickinger (FRA), 137. Xavier Florencio (ESP), 138. Yohann Gene (FRA)

Predictor-Lotto (BEL) : 141. Christophe Brandt (BEL), 142. Dominique Cornu (BEL), 143. Dries Devenyns (BEL), 144. Bjorn Leukemans (BEL), 145. Pieter Mertens (BEL), 146. Wim Van Huffel (BEL), 147. Johan Van Summeren (BEL), 148. Preben Van Hecke (BEL)

Jartazi-7 Mobile (BEL) : 151. Johan Cauquil (BEL), 152. Mathieu Criquielion (BEL), 153. Denis Flahaut (BEL), 154. Gregory Habeaux (BEL), 155. Sven Nevens (BEL), 156. Geert Omloop (BEL), 157. Janek Tombak (EST), 158. Jukka Vastaranta (FIN)

Babes Only Villapark Langemeer Flanders (BEL) : 161. Jean-Paul Simon (BEL), 162. Michael Bloundy (BEL), 163. Ronny Poelvoorde (BEL), 164. Werner Van Zimmeren (BEL), 165. Ken Devaere (BEL), 166. Alex Coutts (BEL), 167. Joop De Gans (BEL), 168. Mart Van Zandkeek (BEL)

Storez-Ledecq Matériaux (BEL) : 171. Ludovic Martin (FRA), 172. Jean-Philippe Dony (BEL), 173. Nicolas Baiolet (BEL), 174. Laurent Mars (BEL), 175. Jean-Noël Wolf (FRA), 176. Sebastian Prengel (ALL), 177. Yevgeniy Muravyov (KAZ), 178. Beuk Kupeshov (KAZ)

Recent winners Etoile de Bessèges:

2006 - Frederik Willems (BEL)
2005 - Freddy Bichot (FRA)
2004 - Laurent Brochard (FRA)
2003 - Fabio Baldato (ITA)
2002 - Robbie McEwen (AUS)
2001 - Nico Eeckhout (BEL)
2000 - Jo Planckaert (BEL)
1999 - Daniel Lefèvre (FRA)
1998 - Jo Planckaert (BEL)
1997 - Patrice Halgand (FRA)

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