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By Podofdonny
Date: 4/14/2002

Welcome to the Daily Peloton's live ticker report on the great race - how times have changed since those first riders set off one hundred editions ago in 1896.

Compiegne: a fresh spring morning with the prospect of heavy rain unlikely - sunny, dry, but with a nagging wind and generally colder than the bright sunshine would suggest - the 100th Paris Roubaix will be a hard man's classic - Tafi, Museeuw, Hincapie are the names most mentioned - but there is a host of other contenders - Erik Zabel has finished this race in third spot, Guesdon a former winner is another possible contender. The nagging headwind has forced the organisers to reevaluate the starting time which is now moved twenty minutes ahead from 11.00 o’clock local time to 10.40 to allow for the slower racing time.

While Italy and Belgium regard the race as a Tafi /Museeuw - Mapei / Domo showdown - German fans have high expectations for the Telekom boys while the rest of the world’s main interest seems to be on the performance of Hincapie and the well organised Postal team. Who in the on-line polls I have seen is definitely the fans' (well those who own a computer, I suppose) choice.

Looking at the race from a different angle - it will be interesting to compare the performances of young riders like Tom Boonen (USPS), Loddo (Lam) and Van Impe (Lotto) -

Rest assured we will be keeping you up to date with all the news - with regular updates before a continual live ticker starting at 12.30 United Kingdom time.

Please remember to hit the F5 button to refresh the reports -

Andrea Tafi - is confident of his team this year. “In a race of this type, experience is really important, you must be certain, but the more you do the pave, the faster you will go. And of course, also the team is important, I think this year Mapei is still the strongest team. There are riders as Zanini, Nardello and Bodrogi, all of whom are ideally suited to this race“ - As the race gets underway we can expect a fast start during the opening kilometres as the French teams try and catch the organisers eye (they also run the Tour de France ) while the Spanish teams will try and impress early on so they can bow out with honour later on -

11.20 - Jacques Goddet, called the race “the last madness of cycling”, and certainly the riders will remember last year when the first section of pave at Troisvilles after 100 kilometres effectively wiped out half of the field - the nagging winds and the dry conditions will mean that whoever has greatest team support as the race continues will have the biggest advantage. Domo will be sorry that Vainsteins could not make the start - but fans from the USA will be glad that this has given their national champion Fred Rodriguez - who is showing excellent form a chance to ride. Also wearing National colours is Britain's Jeremy Hunt - who is riding for the Big Mat team, Nardello in the Italian colours for the Mapei squad is, of course, one of the pre-race favourites. A group of around thirty riders have now gained about one minute advantage on the wind swept peloton as the race heads ever northward.

12.00 the leading group now have about three minutes on the peloton - which is being driven by the well organised Postal squad - however the weather seems to have taken a turn for the worst - dull and the wind increasing slightly -could be a muddy sunday in hell after all.

"jamais un cloche ne gagne la Pascale" - and details coming through of the front group of riders now across the first section of pave at Troisville:

Mataan (Cofidis),

Baldato (Fasa),

Laszlo Bodrogi (Mapei),

Tom Boonen (US Postal),

Servais Knaven,

Max Van Heeswijk (Domo),

Danilo Hondo (Telekom),

Durand (FDJ).

The rain on the dust has made the conditions less sticky but more slippy than last year- looks like we are in for another day's epic racing

12.30 - The pave sections are starting to become more frequent now and they are taking their toll on the leading riders - coming up to section 22 at Haussy the leading riders including the Belgium sensation Tom Boonen have 3.52 on what remains of the peloton - but riders now seem to be scattered all over Northern France as the "Hell" begins.

So in the lead group with about 4 and a half minutes on the peloton are:

Hans De Clercq (Bel) Lotto - Adecco,

Rafael Schweda (Ger) Team Coast,

Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC Tiscali,

Tom Boonen (Bel) US Postal Service,

Enrico Cassani (Ita) Domo - Farm Frites,

Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Domo - Farm Frites,

Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Mapei - Quick Step,

Hans De Clercq (Bel) Lotto - Adecco,

Rafael Schweda (Ger) Team Coast,

Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC Tiscali,

Tom Boonen (Bel) US Postal Service,

Now my great pleasure to introduce Jane - what do you make of the race so far, Jane?

Things are already looking better than last year for USPS and George Hicapie, with Tom Boonen in the break. Domo is well represented, which is to be expected. Van Petegem (and Lotto) also has some strong representation up there. It looks like it's gearing up to be an exciting race!

With the leaders at around 4.40 it is the postal who once again try to organise the chase down - the gap is too large for comfort now Zanini (Mapei ) is pulled back into the main group.

Jane: Horillo has joined the lead as well, making for a strong contingent of Mapei in the break.

The conditions are really awful, freezing rain, the cobbles shiny with rain Thierry Gouvenou (big mat has just crashed from the lead group...

The Postal lead peloton is just crossing section 19 at Maing - crashes and punctures happening all the time now - while at the head of the course at 4.18 the lead group is working well together over the tarmac section.

Section 17 of the pave - the lead group reaches it - while back in the bunch Museeuw has punctured but gets back on ok - 13 riders now in the lead group.

Horillo has punctured and gets a bad wheel change; he will struggle to get back to the lead group now - meanwhile there is a bad crash at the back of the still US Postal lead peloton - while Boonen leads the breakaways through the appalling weather conditions.

Lead group now 13 riders including two from Big Mat, Boonen, de Clerq (Lotto), Tombak and Mattan (Cofidis) Bodrogi (Mapei) and two from Telekom - still at around 4 minutes lead on the peloton.

Section 15 Schweda (Coast )is leading the escapees across the pave and setting a cruel pace while Cassani is looking very comforatble.

The main peloton hits section 16 at Haveluy with Postal doing all the work - your comments, Jane...

Jane: David Clinger is coming off the back of the peloton, having given a hard turn at the front... Postal is working hard- maybe too hard- at the front to keep Hincapie in touch. Doing a favor for the likes of Museeuw...

Through the forest of Arenberg for the lead group - Boonen and Cassani looking comfortable on the cobbles as are de Clerq and Schweda.

Going into the forest, now with the main peloton George Hincapie is in second place at the head of the peloton- Museeuw right on his wheel.

Weseman, Hincapie, Museeuw, a chase- have made up a minute on the leaders- Peloton 4 minutes down...

Jane: Hincapie looks strong on the front. The Hincapie/Museeuw group is coming up on Hunter and others dropped from the lead.

Now the leaders are about to enter zone 13 - not too difficult - while Hincapie, Museeuw and Tafi start to chase down in earnest - Tafi almost looses it on the slippy wet cobbles - great bike handling skills to keep his balance

Mattan and de Clercq have gone off the front of the race - while the original escapee's break is down to 7 riders - and the Hincapie group, with is chasing down very quickly...

Mattan and de Clercq are now on section 12 Warlaing - just behind them the remnants from the escapees including Boonen - while chasing hard is the Museeuw group - who's in that, Jane?

Hincapie on the front, Pod... Phil Liggett reports that Big George is riding like "a man possessed," and so he is. Johan Museeuw is behind him, but not holding too tight to his wheel. Fred Rodriguez has just joined him!!!

Rodriguez crashes bringing down Hunter and a Telekom boy - very muddy even the motor bikes have come down - but they all seem ok - meanwhile Museeuw now is piling on the pressure at the front of the group.

Meanwhile at the front de Clercq and Mattan are back with the the other escapees: Cassani and Van Heeswijk (Domo ) and Schweda - what's the chase group like, Jane?

Jane: Knaven has caught up to the Hincapie/Musseuw group. Musseuw shouting to the other to work... it's looking like deja vu all over again for George, with all of his old pals from last year with him in the break.

Gap down to 55 seconds - Hoffman,Boonen, Bodrogi, de Clercq, Mattan, Cassani and Van Heeswijk will surely be caught by the Museeuw group soon which contains Max Sciandri news on the chasers. Jane -

Jane: Sciandri, Museeuw, Knaven, Hincapie, Rodriguez... a group of 7 chasers, who are chasing hard, about 40 seconds down. Domo a go-go. Tafi a couple minutes down on them...

de Clercq is having another go at the front of the race - Domo are everywhere - he is marked by Van Heeswijk - and this is supposedly a weaker team than last year !

Jane: Chase group still, well... chasing. Hincapie group is passing a technically challenged Bodrogli, trouble with his rear wheel. They will catch up in a few moments time, and will form a lead group with no less than FIVE Domo riders.

That’s right Jane. Bodrogi has dropped off the lead group again and seems to be in all sorts of troubles - he has either hit the wall or has a major mechanical troubles -it doesn’t look like it is going to be the Mapei team's day. Meanwhile Museeuw is on the attack closely followed by Hincapie and Sciandri. Knaven, last years winner is there as Wesemann - 7 riders in total.

Museeuw has launched a massive attack at 40 kilometres to go - he has left the leaders behind - Museeuw, in spite of the Domo presence in the lead group, has launched a massive attack - he is pounding over the cobbles - in the chase group Michaelson has crashed - while Boonen and Hincapie lead the chase after Museeuw...

Hincapie’s father is in Roubaix stadium today to watch his boy ride... he and young Boonen are chasing hard after Musseuw.

Museeuw has 24 seconds on Boonen and Hincapie who are own their own in the chase.

The lion of Flanders has gone solo - while the two Postal men are chasing hard - a remarkable performance from young Tom Boonen - as he works with Hincapie - gap still at 24 seconds...

Incredibly Museeuw is burying himself - the gap is gradually growing. It is up to 38 seconds - it is one man against two - US Postal chasing the Domo man.

The Domo team car comes to Museeuw and he takes a drink - this will be a legendary victory if Museeuw can pull it off as Museeuw starts section 5 of the pave at Cysoing with 25 kilometres to go.

Boonen is pulling so hard Hincapie has problems keeping his wheel -Museeuw powers on... digging deep - 24 kilometres to go the gap has is now up to nearly a minute.

Still Boonen leads Hincapie - the two are working together now - but still at the front Leeuw van Vlaanderen, Johan Museeuw, is pounding onwards towards Roubaix.

Museeuw now on section 4 of the pave - the gap is now up to 1.21 - surely only a mechanical can stop Museeuw from his third ever victory in this great race!

Meanwhile a vehicle has caused poor Hincapie to crash!He has crashed into the ditch - Boonen presses on - he must do or the - he finished third in the amateur edition of this race last year - it is an incredible debut from the young man.

Museeuw now has 2.07 on Boonen - his ride is the stuff of legends - no word on Hincapie - but Boonen at 21 years old is a revelation!

Wesemann (Telekom )is now closing fast on Boonen - Museeuw is powering on with just 12 kilometres to go

Boonen is desperately trying to keep Wesemann from catching him up - considering the amount of work Boonen has done (he was in the first escapees) it is an incredible performance from the youngster - but Wesemann is gradually getting closer and closer...and now catches him.

Museeuw 8 kilometres to go - 2.33 over Wesemann and Boonen - Hincapie and Gouvenou are working together behind them.

Museeuw - master of the pave, forges on - 2.30 ahead of Boonen and Wesemann -Hincapie has rejoined the third group which is Michaelsen, Van Heeswijk, Cassani, Gouvenou and Hoffman...

Museeuw - mud coated - presses on. The look of determination on Museeuw's face is incredible - the yellow and black flags of the Flanders lion are being waved by the huge crowds as he gets closer and closer to the Velodrome -to attack from 40 kilometres out is the stuff of legends...

Leeuw van Vlaanderen, Johan Museeuw, has just 2 kilometres to go...

He enters the Velodrome to an enourmous cheer - 6.38 hours after they started - Museeuw has won the Paris Roubaix!

Now Boonen and Wesemann enter the Velodrome...

Wesemann is second - Boonen is exhausted and is a marvelous third!

A whole wedge of riders come in (mainly Domo) the unlucky Hincapie amongst them - while the velodrome discuss what Museeuw's hand signals meant - some say he made the hand signal to mean 35 his age, others say 10 his classic victories - we will find out and let you know with full results and full race reports.

Museeuw confirms he meant ten victories in the World Cup - and that his original attack had started as a tester - but once he got the gap thought he must keep going.

Anyway thanks for reading - thanks to Jane. Sorry we had a few technical problems - but it was a great race!

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