The GP des Nations is perhaps the most famous of annual time-trial events in cycling. With a palmares that reads like a who's-who of the sport (Coppi, Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault and Armstrong have all won here), for a long time this event was considered the unofficial world championship in time-trialing - until, of course, there was actually an official one introduced.
In recent years, with the specialisation of cycling, which means riders have tended to only concentrate on specific races and with its coinciding with the Vuelta, the GP des Nations has lost prestige and some of its big-name draws. Still, it is one of the most prestigious races in cycling, and one that should have pride of place on any time-trialist's mantlepiece.
This afternoon, it was Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) who ensured both he and his team would be able to continue their victory streaks, as he took victory ahead of friend, countryman and teammate Uwe Peschel by just nine seconds, while Spaniard Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Iles Balares) took the last spot on the podium thirty-six seconds in arrears of the winner. A mention must go to Rich's fellow veteran campaigner Eddy Seigneur: the current French time-trial champion and R.A.G.T. Semences road captain finished fifth just five seconds down on the next man, Rogers. He was also the best Frenchman, while teammate Finot also finished ahead of Christophe Moreau, who must be disappointed with eleventh position.
This is Rich's fifth victory of the season - all have been against the clock, including a German championship success - and his second in a row here, while it is Gerolsteiner's third consecutive one, considering Peschel won in 2002.
With his thirty-fifth birthday on Thursday, it looks likely that both he, and indeed Peschel, will be hanging up their wheels soon. Both men would dearly love to complete their palmares with World Championship time-trial victory, something neither have been able to achieve. On today's evidence, they look good for a medal, having beaten off riders of the calibre of 2003 world 'champion' Michael Rogers, Bradley McGee, Gutierrez and Jens Voigt.
GP des Nations ITT (1.1), 55km - Results
1. Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner, Ger) 1h 08m 38s
2. Uwe Peschel (Gerolsteiner, Ger) at 0'09"
3. Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Iles Balares-Banesto, Spa) at 0'36"
4. Michael Rogers (Quick Step-Davitamon, Aus) at 1'13"
5. Eddy Seigneur (R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover, Fra) at 1'18"
6. Jens Voigt (Team CSC, Ger) at 1'45"
7. Yuri Krivtsov (Ag2r Prevoyance, Ukr) at 1'47"
8. Bradley McGee (Fdjeux.com, Aus) at 2'27"
9. Jean Nuttli (Volksbank-Ideal, Swi) at 2'42"
10. Frédéric Finot (R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover, Fra) at 3'02"
11. Christophe Moreau (Crédit Agricole, Fra) at 3'43"
12. Benjamin Day (Mr. Bookmaker-Palmans, Aus) at 3'55"
13. Nicolas Portal (Ag2r Prevoyance, Fra) at 4'10"
14. Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spa) at 4'42"
15. Guillaume Auger (R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover, Fra) at 5'07"
16. Andy de Smet (Mr. Bookmaker-Palmans, Bel) at 5'11"
17. Bradley Wiggins (Crédit Agricole, Gbr) at 6'16"
18. Sandy Casar (Fdjeux.com, Fra) at 6'44"
1 021 CORNU Dominique BEL R.L.V.B. 34m 32s 280ms
18 year old Dominique Cornu, one of the most sought after teenagers in pro cycling (currently being pursued by Quick Step), won the U23 event, following in the footsteps of Thomas Dekker who has had a superb season to date.
2 027 MAZUR Peter POL POLOGNE
3 039 BODNAR Lukasz POL POLOGNE
4 041 REUS Kai NED RABOBANK
5 024 FARRAR Tyler USA U.S.A.
6 049 CLEMENT Stef NED RABOBANK
7 034 LEMOINE Cyril FRA CREDIT AGRICOLE ESPOIRS
8 022 DE KORT Koen NED RABOBANK
9 046 SIUTSOU Kostantin BLR NATZONALE BIELORUSSIA
10 025 CHAMPION Dimitri FRA ASCE CORBEIL ESSONNE
11 035 DUGGAN Timothy USA U.S.A.
12 031 ELIJZEN Michiel NED RABOBANK
13 036 KAISEN Olivier BEL R.L.V.B.
14 033 BERGES Emilien-Benoît FRA UC CHATEAUROUX - LABORATOIRES FENIOUX
15 048 JEANDESBOZ Fabrice FRA COTES D'ARMOR CYCLISME
16 023 RIVERA Francesco ITA U.S. PALAZZAGO VELLUTEX
17 042 RAISIN Saul USA CREDIT AGRICOLE ESPOIRS
18 028 PATOUR Kilian FRA CREDIT AGRICOLE ESPOIRS
19 050 GOZZA Steven USA U.S.A.
20 026 ROLLIN Dominique CAN USSA PAVILLY BARENTIN
21 037 SHERSTOBITOFF Jeff CAN Canada
22 029 PRYSHCHEPA Andry UKR U.S. PALAZZAGO VELLUTEX
23 030 LOUBET Julien FRA GSC BLAGNAC
24 043 JUILLY Florent FRA UV AUBE
25 038 AUTKA Uladimir BLR NAZIONALE BIELORUSSIA
26 045 MALLET Tony FRA USSA PAVILLY BARENTIN
27 047 MARC Michel FRA VC EVREUX
28 040 GOFFIN Ludovic FRA PDALE SPORTIVE CREUSOTINE
29 044 DESPLANQUES Sébastien FRA AC MANOIR EURE ANDELLE
30 051 WAUTERS Anthony FRA EC QUEVILLY