|Laszlo Bodrogi is best known to British fans for helping to pace Jan Ullrich to the world time trial title in Lisbon at David Millarís expense, and today he upset the French by denying them what would have been a fairytale finish at the prologue of Paris-Nice.
A few weeks ago it seemed 99% guaranteed that the Ďrace to the suní would not take place, but organiser Laurent Fignon eventually managed to come to an agreement with the Tour de France organisation to take it over, and the event was saved. How apt it would have been if the first stage winner of the revitalised race had been a Frenchman, especially one in the national championís jersey.
But, unfortunately, it was not to be, as Bodrogi came in just 28 hundredths of a second ahead of Bonjourís French champion Didier Rous. The consolation for Rous is that he did gain some valuable seconds on all of his rivals for final victory. Bodrogi is unlikely to be among these as he admitted that heís heading south with the task of helping Tom Steels in the sprints and Cadel Evans in the overall.
Yes, thatís Cadel Evans former mountain biker and still pretty much a road racing novice. It says a great amount about his talent and the faith that Mapei have in him that the Aussie will have the whole team behind him later in the race. Although he was way down in 89th today, heís only 25 seconds off the pace, and must be a good bet for the top 10 once the race reaches the hills.
Among those likely to challenge overall, Telekomís Andreas Kloeden, a winner here in 2000, is well set in fifth place. Heíll be helped by team-mate Bobby Julich, who is only 11 seconds down himself. Just a second behind Kloeden is the controversial Dario Frigo, winner last year and sacked by his team for doping offences just two months afterwards.
Tied with Tacconiís Frigo is another yet another former winner, Alex Zuelle. The Swiss won in Valencia 10 days ago and is in his best form for a couple of seasons. Two places behind Zuelle is three-time winner Laurent Jalabert.
For the next couple of stages attention will switch to the sprinters, but the unpredictable weather at this time of year means that anything can happen anywhere.
Prologue, Issy les Moulineaux
1 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hungary) Mapei 5.2km In 6-56
2 Didier Rous (Bonjour) st
3 Javier Pascual (Ibanesto) at 4
4 Nico Mattan (Cofidis)
5 Juan Carlos Dominguez (Phonak)
6 Andreas Kloeden (Telekom)
7 Alberto Martinez (Euskaltel) all st
8 Dario Frigo (Tacconi) at 5
9 Nicolas Jalabert (CSC)
10 Alex Zuelle (Team Coast) both st
15 Robbie McEwen (Lotto) at 7
23 Robbie Julich (Telekom) at 11
34 Baden Cooke (FDJ) at 15
38 Christopher Jenner (Credit Agricole) at 16
49 Robert Hunter (Mapei) at 18
89 Cadel Evans (Mapei) at 25
97 Matthew Wilson (FDJ) at 27