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97th Paris Tours Preview - Part One
By Podofdonny
Date: 9/29/2003
97th Paris Tours Preview - Part One

97th Paris Tours

Please visit the official site here.

World Cup Round 9

So after the excitement of the Vuelta Espana, Tour fans can take it easy as we move into the Autumn Classic season and one day fans revive themselves after a summer vacation.

A reminder of the current World Cup standings after 8 rounds of fierce competition:

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 350 pts
2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 204
3 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo 203
4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 187
5 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco 139
6 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Team Saeco 136
7 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Team Telekom 124
8 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre 123
9 Dario Pieri (Ita) Team Saeco 117
10 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom 100

So all eyes on the little man in the Italian National jersey, “Il Grillo,” Paolo Bettini. Winner of Milan San Remo, HEW Cyclassics and San Sebastian, yet surprisingly he could still be overtaken by Michael Boogerd, Van Petegem (himself a double winner) or Davide Rebellin in the competition.

The winner of each race gets 100 points and then the next 24 places are awarded 70, 50, 40, 36, 32, 28, 24, 20, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 point, respectively.

So with two races left, theoretically the Italian from Cecina could be beaten the Dutchman from Den Haag, the Belgian from Opbrakel or another Italian but from San Bonifacio. However, this would require Bettini to finish well down the placings in both events and one of the others to score two consecutive podium places.

So the race may well be a tactical battle between these four contending teams while the rest of the peloton takes advantage of the World Cup Heavyweights marking each other out.

© Anita Van Crey.

Bettini has a very busy October ahead - will be World Cup Winner and World Champion?

The Teams

Of the top clubs only Kelme have opted not to ride so the starting line up will be: (Spa), Cofidis (Fra), Coast (Ger) = Team Bianchi (Ger), CSC (Den), Fassa Bartolo (Ita), Gerolsteiner (Ger), Lotto - Domo (Bel), ONCE - Eroski (Spa), Rabobank (Ned), US Postal Service (Usa), Alessio (Ita), Domina Vacanze - Elitron (Ita), Lampre (Ita), Phonak Hearing Systems (Swi), Saeco (Ita), Vini Caldirola-Sidermec (Ita), Telekom (Ger).

With invited teams being - AG2R Prévoyance (Fra) - Brioches La Boulangère (Fra) - Crédit Agricole (Fra) Jean Delatour (Fra) - (Fra) - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago (Bel) - Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spa) and Quick Step-Davitamon (Bel).

Interestingly, Quickstep manager Patrick Lefevere “forgot” to enter his team and Bettini's World Cup hopes almost took a late tumble, however the organisers allowed his late entry.

© Anita Van Crey.

Michael Boogerd - can he snatch a late season coup?


By Tom James

Please visit the Tom’s great site here.

Through a long but somewhat chequered history, Paris - Tours remains still one of the great classics. The great enemy, as in Paris - Brussels, is the wind. When it is from the South-West, the race can become a slog - Peter Pieters averaged just 34kmh to win in 1988, the slowest winning speed for 57 years. Conversely, if the wind is behind, the race takes on its role of fastest of all the classics; it was for his winning average of nearly 42kmh that Gustaf Daneels was awarded the first Ruban Jaune in 1936, and that award has remained intimately tied up with Paris - Tours ever since. When Andrei Tchmil won in 1997, he averaged over 48kmh for a race of 250km.

The route and format have varied somewhat over the years; the first part takes in the hills of the Chevreuse Valley before running along the Loire, generally flat and fast. As the roads improved in the 1920s and speeds went up, the event became known as the Sprinters' Classic. To prevent this state of affairs, in 1959 the organisers added a finishing circuit with a hill called l'Alouette, to be covered three times. By supreme irony, the winner, in a solo break, was Van Looy, the quickest sprinter in the race! The next restriction, in 1965, was to limit the riders to just two gears, enforced by having double sided hubs, last used in the 1930s. Somehow sufficient hubs were rounded up for the entire peloton, but to little avail; even more the race became a flat burn up to Tours. That the winners were Reybroeck twice and Karstens speaks volumes about the efficacy of the idea, which was soon quietly dropped.

Throughout the seventies and early eighties, more fundamental changes took place, with the event being reversed, generally as Blois - Chaville. This presented a different character to the race, since now the Chevreuse came at the end of the race, rather than the beginning, and some interesting racing took place. However in 1988, the race reverted to the traditional Paris - Tours, without the Alouette climb, and with the finish on the long, straight Avenue de Grammont - the classic ending to the Sprinters' Classic.

The Autumn Double

Not related to each other in either location or topography, Paris - Tours and the Tour of Lombardy nonetheless remain connected by taking place within a week or so of each other, but months separated from all the other classics. The two thus became known as the Autumn Double. Only three riders have successfully completed the double: Philippe Thys in 1917, Rik Van Looy in 1959 and Jo De Roo in 1962 and 1963.

© Copyright 2002 ASO.

Last year's winners Jakob Storm Piil, Jacky Durand and Erik Zabel on the podium.

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