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Paris Nice 2003 Preview: Live Coverage This Week!
 
By Podofdonny
Date: 3/8/2003
Paris Nice 2003 Preview: Live Coverage This Week!
 

Paris Nice 2003 by Andrew McDobbin and podofdonny

Coyright A.S.O 2003

When the route for Paris-Nice 2003 was unveiled, the critics were impressed by what appears to be a challenging and spectator friendly race: ASO have had a full year to prepare the event (after 2002’s last-gasp takeover) and it shows – they have produced a thrilling route that should uphold suspense till the last km. The “Race to the Sun” just got a lot hotter…

LAST YEAR

The race almost didn’t start as Laurent Fignon, having bought the race in 1999, noted “Even if ASO does finally buy it, it’ll be too late for 2002”. However, the men who organise the Tour worked a wonder to regain control of the race and, miraculously, the race went ahead. With Laszlo Bodrogi of Mapei-Quick Step taking the prologue by a hair’s breadth, Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) and Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Adecco) split the quartet of sprint finishes in the race between themselves. On Stage 3 it was Laurent Jalabert, in his last year, who wowed the French with a breaktaking descent into St. Etienne to win the stage.

The preceding stage was arguably the one that decided the whole race as Alexandre Vinokourov destroyed fellow Kazakh Andrei Kivilev, Didier Rous and Sandy Casar on Mont Faron (a traditional climb in the race) to take the stage and, with that, the maillot jaune. From there on, Telekom worked doggedly to keep to continue the team’s recent good performances (Andreas Kloden, winner in 2000, was unable to defend his title due to injury in 2002) and, in doing so, help Vinokourov to become the first Kazakh to win Paris-Nice. On the penultimate stage finishing on the Col d’Eze, Dario Frigo took an opportunist win with young Australian sensation Cadel Evans not far behind. Even on the last stage, which is a criterium around Nice, there was excitement as Inigo Cuesta of Cofidis, at that time 4th on GC, attacked, forcing Telekom to chase him down. Behind Vinokourov overall, nearly a minute in arrears, was a young sensation and an experienced, much-loved battler: Fdjeux.com’s Sandy Casar and Laurent Jalabert of CSC-Tiscali. However, it was ‘Vino’ who had shone in the Sun and he became the first Kazakh to win Paris-Nice.

CONTENDERS

Telekom will surely continue to threaten, with Vinokourov, back to defend his title, aided by a strong team (Nardello and new signing and last year’s Fleche Wallone winner Mario Aerts). However, with roughly 20km of individual TT in the whole race to do, it may favour a time trialist who can hold his own (or has a strong team to help him do so) in the mountains. Dario Frigo, in a rich vein of form and confidence after a stage and the overall in the Tour of Valencia, could challenge – if he wants to that is. Having won the event in 2001, he should challenge. Usually it is Frenchmen who aim to shine in this event. It will be interesting to see if Sandy Casar can repeat last year’s stunning performance. The Fdjeux.com rider should find it difficult, as he’ll be a marked man.

Other riders encountering good form include David Moncoutie of Cofidis, the Paris-based climber who has already scored two wins this season (including one on Mont Faron, an omen perhaps…), Claus Michael Moller (Milaneza) who has taken a TT stage and the overall in the Tour of the Algarve. Didier Rous will also be keen to impress in a kind of race he excels at (and has done in recent years). CSC-Tiscali have a particularly fearsome line up, fielding both Carlos Sastre and Tyler Hamilton though one feels they will just be stretching their legs in anticipation of the Grand Tours.

There is, effectively, only one flattish stage and it should be hotly contested by some high-class sprinters: Baden Cooke (Fdj), Ivan Quaranta, Alessandro Petacchi and Robbie McEwen to name just four. However, some other sprinters like Mario Cipollini and Erik Zabel have chosen Tirreno-Adriatico, which favours sprinters more.

HISTORY

The first edition of Paris-Nice was in 1933 and won by Belgian Alphonse Schepers. The race, not contested for 6 years during World War II, struggled and after staging it in 1946, it disappeared for five years. In 1951, after its ‘break’, the competition was bought and it recovered, albeit under the name Paris-Cote d’Azur for three years. Jacques Anquetil first won Paris-Nice in 1957 and won it five times in total, battling with Raymond Poulidor in order to win on most of those occasions.

A couple of years after he retired, Eddy Merckx took the race by the horns, winning it first in 1969 (when the first stage involving the Col d’Eze was included) and winning it twice after that until ‘Poupou’ Poulidor, 38 years old now, destroyed ‘The Cannibal’ on the Col d’Eze and won. He was to repeat the victory the following year. In the 70s, Merckx did not repeat earlier performances, with ‘The Eternal Second’ Joop Zoetemelk (2nd in the Tour de France six times) ironically winning three times. After compatriot Stephen Roche won ‘Race to the Sun’ in 1981, Sean Kelly kept up the Irish winning streak for an incredible 7 years. This is a record which may never be broken.

In 1989, ‘Big Mig’ Indurain dethroned King Kelly and won the next year too. Tony Rominger and Alex Zulle fiercely contested Paris-Nice in the first half of the 90s – Rominger winning in 1991 and 1994 and his bespectacled compatriot winning in 1993. From 1995, Laurent Jalabert won 3 consecutive titles before then-wonder kid Franck Vandendbroucke beat him. In the following years, popular Dutchman Michael Boogerd and Telekom’s Andreas Kloden won. Dario Frigo won impressively in 2001 and, as you have read, it was Vinokourov who came good last year.

Parcours

Don't forget to visit the official site: Click here.

Copyright A.S.O. 2003

Prologue, 4.8km TT

Very similar to last year’s Prologue (500m longer and around Issy-les-Moulineaux again) there is a small, sharp incline of 80m from the first km, but it shouldn’t cause the specialist time trialists any problems. Laszlo Bodrogi, having injured his pubic bone in the Tour of Qatar, will be absent so expect riders such as Nico Mattan, Didier Rous and Jens Voigt to challenge. Surprises could come from Gerolsteiner’s Sebastien Lang, who took the Tour of Rhodes Prologue, and young Jean Delatour specialist Yuriy Kritsov. The course demands perfection – the bike handling and cornering must be excellent. If one mistake is made, the winning opportunity may go out of the window.

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Stage 1, Auxerre – Paray-le-Monial, 191km

This should be the sprinters’ best opportunity with just two Category 3 climbs to hinder them. Expect Fassa Bortolo and Lotto-Domo to bring in any escapees for a big showdown at the finish between in-form Alessandro Petacchi and Robbie McEwen. Other Aussies Stuart O’Grady and Baden Cooke could sneak a victory.

Copyright A.S.O. 2003

Stage 2, La Clayette – Saint Etienne, 182.5km

When the going gets tough, the sprinters get going. I doubt any of the fast men will be in the lead group at the finish. In 182.5km, there is a trio of Cat 3 climbs (all in the first 60km). The Category 2 climb of Cote de Duerne comes at around the 100km mark and will add to the riders problems . There’s some more hilly terrain in between until the summit of the Croix de Chaubouret, 1201m high, is met with just under 20km to go. From there, as last year, it will be a breakneck descent into St. Etienne. Look out for lots of attacks – some riders will be looking to win the race on this first mountainous stage.

There is also a chance of a breakaway group succeeding. If riders from the right teams get in the break, the race could end up with an unusual look at the end of the day.

Copyright A.S.O. 2003

Stage 3, Le-Puy-En-Velay – Pont-du-Gard, 192.5km

Probably will end up in a mass sprint. However the general downhill profile will encourage attacks - one for the sprinters or the lone breakaway. French teams will see this stage as an opportunity to shine in front of the Tour selectors. Could be more savage than it looks.

Coyright A.S.O 2003

Stage 4, Source Perrier, 16.5km

Short sharp and quite technical. The sort of stage Millar would win if he were not in the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen... (to read about this race click here.

Difficult to see it having a huge effect on the general classification, then again, if it starts raining...

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Stage 5, Aix-en-Provence – Toulon (Mont Faron), 152.5km

This will end, as traditionally, a top Mont Faron. However, they will be ascending Faron from the other side, unlike last year. Before encountering this short but viciously steep Cat 1 climb, the riders will already have been over 3 Category 2 climbs and 2 Category 3 ones. Vinokourov staked his claim here in 2002 – can he do it again?. David Moncoutié (Cofidis) has won once already here this year - a stage of last minute drama.

Copyright A.S.O. 2003

Stage 6, Toulon-Cannes, 194.5km This stage has a rich smattering of climbs, with a trio of Category 2 climbs (including one 20km from the finish) and the Cat 1 ascent of the Col-de-Boussague. Expect a group of 50 or so to contest the sprint at the finish.

Copyright A.S.O. 2003

Stage 7, Nice-Nice, 160km

In the past, the last stage was a boring criterium that went around Nice and had no real outcome on the overall winner. However, ASO have created a real thriller of a final stage – it could easily decide the GC. The Col d’Eze will be scaled three times, the last time being 15km from the finish – could the stage or even race-winning attack be orchestrated there? With the Category 2 Col de Chateauneuf also climbed twice, this stage should be filled with attacks. This stage could contribute to what might be one of the most epic editions of Paris-Nice in its history.

Teams

Official team news

Phonak

"The beginning of "race to the sun" is about to begin and the suspense increases every day. The 61st edition of this first big tour in France shows a difficult and ambitious profile, very exciting for the spectators.

"The team around Oscar Camenzind has planned to earn as many points as possible and to win the mountain ranking. Lead by Alvaro Pino and Jacques Michaud, these racers will be starting: Oscar Camenzind, Miguel Martinez, Santiago Perez, Benoît Salmon, Fabrice Gougot, Alexandre Moos, Oscar Pereiro and Sascha Usov."

Saeco

New Dad Simoni back racing in France:

Saeco go on the attack at Paris-Nice

Team Saeco will be back in France with the team riding Paris-Nice the important stage race which will be held from Sunday March 9 to Sunday March 16. Directeur sportifs Guido Bontempi and Flavio Miozzo will have a competitive team for the race including Igor Astarloa recent winner of the third stage of the Vuelta Valenciana, Mirko Celestino second after a good ride in the GP Chiasso in Switzerland, and Gilberto Simoni back in action after the birth of his baby daughter Sofia. The rest of the team includes sprinter Ivan Quaranta, Italian champion Salvatore Commesso, Alessio Galetti, new signing Giosuè Bonomi, Lithuanian Marius Sabaliauskas and German Joerg Ludewig.

US Postal presented by Berry Floor

”There is less positive news from Viatcheslav Ekimov, who does not participate in Murcia. He got the flu, which endangers his participation in Paris-Nice”.

AG2R

”Our team will be ORIOL Christophe, ASTARLOZA Michel, BOTCHAROV Alexandre, TURPIN Ludovic, PORTAL Nicolas, FLICKINGER Andy, CHAURREAU Inigo, BROCHARD Laurent.

Following list is based upon team sites and the excellent (and funny) Cycling4all - To see Cycling4all's list click here (well worth a visit).

Teams

Telekom: Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), Mario Aerts (Bel), Torsten Hiekmann (Ger), Danilo Hondo (Ger), Bobby Julich (Usa), Matthias Kessler (Ger), Daniele Nardello (Ita), Christian Werner (Ger).

AG2R Prévoyance: Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa), Alexandre Botcharov (Rus), Laurent Brochard (Fra), Inigo Chaurreau Bernadez (Spa), Andy Flickinger (Fra), Nicolas Portal (Fra), Christophe Oriol (Fra), Ludovic Turpin (Fra).

Brioches La Boulangère: Walter Bénéteau (Fra), Franck Bouyer (Fra), Sylvain Chavanel (Fra), Emmanuel Magnien (Fra), Jérôme Pineau (Fra), Franck Renier (Fra), Didier Rous (Fra), Thomas Voeckler (Fra).

Team Coast - Suspended

Cofidis: Frédéric Bessy (Fra), Médéric Clain (Fra), Philippe Gaumont (Fra), ??, Andrej Kivilev (Kaz), Nico Mattan (Bel), David Moncoutié (Fra), Marek Rutkiewicz (Pol), Cédric Vasseur (Fra).

Crédit Agricole: Stéphane Augé (Fra), Cédric Fragnière (Swi), Thor Hushovd (Nor), Christopher Jenner (Fra), Anthony Morin (Fra), Stuart O'Grady (Aus), Benoît Poilvet (Fra), Jens Voigt (Ger).

CSC: Julian Dean (NZl), Tyler Hamilton (Usa), Tristan Hoffman (Ned), Nicolas Jalabert (Fra), Lennie Kristensen (Den), Michael Sandstød (Den), Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa), Andrea Tafi (Ita)

Jean Delatour: Stéphane Goubert (Fra), Patrice Halgand (Fra), Sébastien Joly (Fra), Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr), Laurent Lefèvre (Fra), Ludovic Martin (Fra), Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra), Eddy Seigneur (Fra).

Euskaltel-Euskadi: Ruben Díaz de Cerio (Spa), Unai Etxebarria Arana (Ven), Gorka Gerrikagoitia Arrien (Spa), Gorka González Larranaga (Spa), Alberto López de Munain (Spa), J.Alberto Martínez Trinidad (Spa), Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa), Josu Sillóniz Aresti (Spa).

Fakta: Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor), Jørgen Bo Petersen (Den), Frank Høj (Den), Michael Skelde (Den), René Jørgensen (Den), Werner Riebenbauer (Ger), Lars Bak (Den), Julian Winn (GBr).

Fassa Bortolo : Dario Frigo (Ita), Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Volodimir Gustov (Ukr), Kim Kirchen (Lux), Nicola Loda (Ita), Alessandro Petacchi (Ita), Guido Trenti (Usa), Marco Velo (Ita).

FDJeux.com : Sandy Casar (Fra), Baden Cooke (Aus), Christophe Mengin (Fra), Mickaël Pichon (Fra), Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra), Nicolas Vogondy (Fra), Bradley Wiggins (GBr), Matthew Wilson (Aus).

Gerolsteiner: Davide Rebellin (Ita), Udo Bölts (Ger), René Haselbacher (Ger), Sebastian Lang (Ger), Volker Ordowski (Ger), Ellis Rastelli (Ita), Torsten Schmidt (Ger), Ronny Scholz (Ger).

Kelme CB : Isaac Gálvez Lopez (Spa) , David Latasa Lasa (Spa), Iván Parra Pinto (Col), Jordi Riera Valls (Spa) , Alexis Rodríguez Hernandez (Spa), Julián Usano Martinez (Spa), Constantino Zaballa Gutierrez (Spa).

Lotto Domo : Christophe Brandt (Bel), Glenn D'Hollander (Bel), Robbie McEwen (Aus), Axel Merckx (Bel), Koos Moerenhout (Ned), Leon van Bon (Ned), Stefan van Dijk (Ned), Aart Vierhouten (Ned).

Milaneza-MSS : Claus Moller, Rui Sousa, Rui Lavarinhas, Fabian Jeker, David Bernabeu, Paulo Barroso, Pedro Cardoso, Lizuarte Martins.

Once Eroski : David Arroyo Duran (Spa), Ángel Castresana Del Val (Spa), Koldo Gil Pérez (Spa), Jörg Jaksche (Ger), Mikel Pradera Rodriguez (Spa), Joaquín Rodriguez Oliver (Spa), Marcos Serrano Rodriguez (Spa), Mikel Zarrabeitia Uranga (Spa).

Phonak: Oscar Camenzind, Miguel Martinez, Santiago Perez, Benoît Salmon, Fabrice Gougot, Alexandre Moos, Oscar Pereiro Sascha Usov.

Quick Step-Davitamon: Richard Virenque (Fra), Tom Boonen (Bel), David Cañada Gracia (Spa), Aurélien Clerc (Swi), Wilfried Crteskens (Bel), Andrej Kashechkin (Kaz), Kurt van de Wouwer (Bel), Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel).

Saeco : Igor Astarloa Askasibar (Spa), Giosuè Bonomi (Ita), Mirko Celestino (Ita), Salvatore Commesso (Ita), Alessio Galletti (Ita), Jörg Ludewig (Ger), Ivan Quaranta (Ita), Gilberto Simoni (Ita).

US Postal which is presented by Berry Floor : Antonio Cruz (Usa), Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus), George Hincapie (Usa), Benoit Joachim (Lux), Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus), Pavel Padrnos (Cze), Max van Heeswijk (Ned), Matthew White (Aus).

The Daily Peloton will bring you live coverage of Paris-Nice every day, plus updates on Tour of Murcia. Join us for our live coverage starting Sunday!


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