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53rd Paris-Bourges (1.2)
By Andy McGrath
Date: 10/3/2003
53rd Paris-Bourges (1.2)

The 53rd Paris-Bourges set off yesterday morning, with a generous smattering of riders who may figure in attacks or in the top 10 of the Hamilton Worlds. It also gives Nicolas Vogondy to bridge the ten point gap that Jaan Kirsipuu (ironically, an Estonian) leads him by in the French Cup. With le soleil brillait (the sun shining), 114 competitors left the Parisian suburbs bound for Bourges – but which rider would be first?

After nearly an hour of high-pace as attack after attack was marked and chased back, after 40km a break of five finally went. There were several dangerous men in there: former Paris-Roubaix winner Frederic Guesdon of, this year’s Tour of Flanders podium placer and very-nearly centernary Tour stage winner Stuart O’Grady (Credit Agricole), Palman-Collstrop’s hardened fast man and Hamilton-bound Brit Roger Hammond, Ag2r Prevoyance’s perennial attacker Stephane Berges and Cofidis’ Phillipe Gaumont. However, the peloton was surprisingly tight and after two hours out front, the quintet only had a lead of 2’50”.

Things started to fragment with about 50km to go, over the Cote de la Chavignol. Stephane Berges led the leading group over, whilst 1’15” behind was Baker Boy Walter Beneteau, good in hilly races whilst a split had happened in the peloton leaving a group with riders like ‘Mimo’ Chavanel, Belgian-Hamilton possibility Dave Bruylandts and Patrice Halgand in a group 2’02” behind. With 25km to go or so, the decisive split went, with about fifteen riders leading, including sprinters Cooke and Tombak, GP Ploauy winner Andy Flickinger and to-be-CSC-rider Jens Voigt as well as Halgand and Chavanel.

These men got a gap of 35 seconds, zipping along the well-tarmacked French roads at over 50km/h despite a slight headwind! With 15km to go, time-trialists Voigt, Florent Brard (Marlux, recently back from drug suspension) and prospect Nicolas Fritsch got away and stayed away until the line at Bourges. It was Voigt who edged out his companions for an important win and lasting mark on Credit Agricole, who he has been with for 5 years but will leave for 2004. The team has had a pretty poor season, with few wins but this is a nice way to end his career with the French banking team. This is Voigt’s fourth win of the season, following a stage and overall in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes and the time trial of the Criterium International. Chavanel, Cooke, Tombak and Hammond all figured in the top 10 in the chasing group too – maybe ‘Mimo’ can pop up and surprise at Hamilton? This result, meanwhile, in the last French Cup event means that Jaan Kirsipuu has won the overall competition (again!).

53rd Paris-Bourges - 192km Results

1 Jens Voigt (Ger) Credit Agricole 4.24.33
2 Florent Brard (Fra) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
3 Nicolas Fritsch (Fra)
4 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf 0.46
5 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère
6 Janek Tombak (Est) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone 0.47
7 Baden Cooke (Aus)
8 Roger Hammond (GBr) Palmans-Collstrop
9 Stéphane Berges (Fra) Ag2r-Prevoyance
10 Andrei Mizourov (Kaz) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin 0.50

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