Latest Cycling News for February 17, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
2004 Paris-Nice route preview
By Chris Henry
2004 Race to the sun
Photo: © ASO
The 2004 edition of Paris-Nice, slated for March 7-14, will once more
serve as the first major objective for many riders. With the season underway
since January, Paris-Nice continues to grow in importance, no longer a
preparation race for the bigger tours of the summer. Since its acquisition
of the race in 2002, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which also organises
the Tour de France and major classics such as Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège,
has sought to ensure the importance of Paris-Nice on the racing calendar
by selecting only Division I teams.
Two time winner and defending champion Alexandre Vinokourov will lead
the list of favourites once again, after an emotional victory in 2003.
Last year's race was marked by the tragic death of Vinokourov's friend
and compatriot Andrei Kivilev, who succumbed to injuries sustained in
a crash on the second road stage to Saint-Etienne. Vinokourov was already
a candidate for repeat success, but the desire to win for his fallen friend
meant that missing out on a second yellow jersey in Nice was not an option.
This year's "race to the sun" begins outside of Paris and follows the
traditional southward trajectory toward Nice and the Mediterranean coast,
beginning with flat sprinter's stages and finishing with a five climb
romp around Nice before the finish on the famed Promenade des Anglais.
While Paris-Nice has often started with a prologue time trial and included
a longer individual test against the clock mid-way through, this year
will feature just one time trial. The climbs included in the race are
not those for the pure mountain men, but rather offered up in a parcours
geared to aggressive, attacking riders who can excel on varied terrain.
Stage 1 - March 7: Chaville-Vanves ITT, 13.2km
Rather than a short prologue, this year's Paris-Nice will feature just
one time trial, a 13.2 kilometre test which opens the event. A point to
point course will be used, connecting Chaville with Vanves, at the southwest
of gates of Paris. With ASO at the helm, it's no surprise that the course
will take a swing through Issy-les-Moulineaux, where the organiser is
The time trial starts with a steady rise to the 2.4km mark, where the
course levels out for several minutes before dropping back down. Sweeping
through Issy-les-Moulineaux, the riders will tackle the same 1.2km hill
used in last year's prologue, a big-ring power climb situated just over
2km from the finish on the Boulevard du Lycée in Vanves.
Stage 2 - March 8: Chaville-Montargis, 166.5km
With a second start in Chaville, the road racing begins on stage 2 with
a 166 kilometre drag south to the medieval town of Montargis. Five Cat.
3 climbs in the first half of the race will likely have little effect
on the almost certain bunch sprint, as the sprinters' teams will have
nearly 80km of pan-flat roads to reel in early breakaways and set up for
the finish. However, after a time trial of 13km on the opening stage,
it is less likely that a sprinter will be able to take the race lead on
bonus seconds alone.
Stage 3 - March 9: La Chapelle-Saint Ursin-Roanne, 229km
The longest day of racing will take the peloton 229 kilometres from the
tiny town of La Chapelle-Saint-Ursin to Roanne. Two bonus sprints will
help animate the flat first half of the stage, after which the field will
hit two Cat. 3 climbs before a long plunge into Roanne.
Stage 4 - March 10: Roanne-Le Puy-en-Velay, 179km
Three stages down, five to go, and the climbing begins in earnest between
Roanne and Le Puy-en-Velay. The first Cat. 3 summit comes after only 14km
of racing, as the Côte de la Croix du Lac provides a prelude to
the continued climb to the Côte des Essarts at kilometre 27. After
a steady descent and some 40km of flat terrain, the first Cat. 2 climb
of the week greets the peloton.
The climb to 1,163 metres and the Col de la Croix de l'Homme Mort offers
the first real mountain test before a rolling parcours takes in one final
rise and a chance to regroup before the finish in Le Puy-en-Velay. Situated
mid-stage, the Cat. 2 climb may not produce time gaps in the general classification,
but it will provide a first indication of who is ready for the road to
roll when the going gets vertical.
Stage 5 - March 11: Le Puy-en-Velay-Rasteau, 215km
Another long stage is presented in stage 5, a transitional leg from Le
Puy-en-Velay to Rasteau. Three Cat. 3 climbs are on the menu, along with
the short but steep Cat. 2 Côte du Serre-de-Tourre. The small Côte
de Buisson, whose summit lies just 13km from the finish, could provide
the perfect springboard for a late stage attack.
Stage 6 - March 12: Rasteau-Gap, 173.5km
Stage 6 from Rasteau to Gap could prove one of the most decisive of this
year's Paris-Nice. Covering 173 kilometres, the parcours includes an opening
drag up to the Cat. 2 Col de Fontaube, followed immediately by the first
Cat. 1 climb to the Col de Macuègne. A mid-stage regrouping will
be possible, but another double dose of climbing finishes the day with
the Cat. 1 Col de la Sentinelle and Col de Manse. A long descent completes
the stage into Gap, but the back to back climbs could be enough to provoke
some splits in the general classification.
Stage 7 - March 13: Digne-les-Bains-Cannes, 185.5km
No rest for the weary in stage 7, as seven categorised climbs punctuate
the 185 kilometre trip from Digne-les-Bains to Cannes. The peloton will
be pleased to reach the coast at Cannes, but the race won't be over. With
four Cat. 3 climbs, one Cat. 2, and two Cat. 1 mountains spread evenly
throughout the parcours, stage 7 could provide as many fireworks as the
day before. Twenty kilometres separate the final summit of the Col du
Tanneron and the finish in Cannes, but unlike previous days there are
fewer extended lulls between climbs to allow the peloton to regroup.
Stage 8 - March 14: Nice-Nice, 144km
Last year ASO introduced a new twist to the traditional finish in Nice,
replacing a ceremonial criterium with a climbing circuit which tackles
the Cat. 1 Col d'Eze three times and the Cat. 2 Col de Châteauneuf
twice. Five substantial climbs over 144 kilometres is no easy task, and
even if the stage did not provide any major GC shake ups in 2003, it still
provided an exciting finale to the week-long race. This year's winner
may also be decided before the final day, but the yellow jersey will only
be able to celebrate after crossing the line in Nice on the Promenade
Total distance: 1,305.7 kilometres
Brioches La Boulangère
Phonak Hearing Systems
RAGT Semences-MG Rover
US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor
Giro to remember Pantani
In an effort to remember Marco Pantani in a most fitting fashion, La
Gazzetta dello Sport and race organiser RCS Sport have announced their
intention to remember the enigmatic climber with a special mountain prize
in the Giro d'Italia. The prize would be offered in the same spirit as
the Cima Coppi and Tappa Bartali prizes, and could be awarded on the famed
Mortirolo climb on the race's penultimate stage 19.
Cofidis drops Gaumont
French professional Philippe Gaumont, questioned as part of the ongoing
investigation into drug trafficking sparked by the arrest of ex-Cofidis
rider Marek Rutkiewicz and team soigneur Bogdan Madejak, has been formally
dropped by Cofidis and thus ends his career in cycling. After his confessions
to the use of EPO performance enhancing drugs in competition, Gaumont's
future was all but sealed, even if his team had held out on terminating
his contract while police investigations were still in progress.
"I was expecting it," Gaumont told l'Equipe, referring to the letter
delivered by Cofidis Monday morning. "After my earlier discussion with
[Cofidis manager] Alain Bondue about being terminated, I knew I was heading
in this direction. I don't wish this on anyone, but I'm not in complete
agreement with the reasons given for my being fired."
Formally, Gaumont was fired for having tarnished the image of the Cofidis
company, not simply because he admitted to doping in years past. Cofidis
had made an effort to file civil suits against anyone who accused the
team of doping infractions, however the French courts blocked Cofidis'
access to the files from the investigations. It is the redirection of
this effort towards Gaumont that does not sit well with the cyclist, and
as a result he plans to challenge the decision in the "conseil des prud'hommes",
a French court where employees may lodge complaints of unjust termination.
Nevertheless, Gaumont's career as a professional rider is over.
"It's definitive," he said of his retirement. "Cycling [for me] is over.
On the other hand, what is not finished is the problem that exists in
cycling. Based on what I know, the courts and the police haven't finished
talking about these problems this year."
Team Seasilver Pro Cycling
New Division III sponsor supports Parish Foundation
Seasilver USA (a nutritional supplement company based in Carlsbad, California)
and the Parish Foundation (a San Diego-based cancer charity focused on
comforting the survivors of Cancer and their families), have announced
the official debut of a new pro cycling team, "Team Seasilver Pro Cycling",
through a title sponsorship agreement with Seasilver USA. The UCI Division
3 team remains dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the Parish
Foundation, and gains great strength with the support provided by Seasilver
"We are really excited to work with Seasilver USA," said Greg Bourque
L.Ac, the team's manager and director. "We've been looking for a powerful
title sponsor to support us in benefiting cancer research, and Seasilver
has just the right combination of philanthropy, community spirit, and
health-awareness. Our goal since last year has been to sign a sponsor
like this, and with Seasilver USA's support, that crucial piece of the
puzzle is now in place."
The team's ongoing affiliation with the Parish Foundation sets it apart.
"We've always had a unique sponsorship structure with the Parish Foundation:
our mission is to raise funds for cancer research, so we have to be funded
by other, corporate sponsors. For this dual marketing and charitable effort
to work, our corporate sponsors have to understand what it means to give
back to the community," says team rider Peter Knudsen.
The team includes eight (with a possible ninth to be added) professionals,
and aims to earn a top five ranking in the United States, as well as continue
to support cancer charities and events like Lance Armstrong's Ride for
Sierra Nevada for 2004
The American Sierra Nevada Division III team Sierra Nevada has announced
its roster for the 2004 season. The team will be headed by former US #1
Trent Klasna (ex-Saturn), Canada's Eric Wohlberg (also ex-Saturn), New
Zealander Glen Mitchell, who joins after several seasons with the Navigators,
and road and cyclo-cross talent Ben Jacques-Maynes. The team totals 12
riders for 2004.
Lehigh Valley Velodrome flea market vendor registration
The Lehigh Valley Velodrome has opened registration for the 2nd Annual
Spring Bicycle Flea Market to be held Saturday, April 17. The Spring Bicycle
Flea Market is a rain or shine event held from 9am - 2pm that allows both
commercial bike shops as well as individuals to sell their cycling related
goods. This year $1 from every ticket sale will benefit the Alaric Gayfer
Alaric Gayfer, a former professional cyclist and British National Champion,
was diagnosed with brain cancer over one year ago and has been fighting
the disease with valor ever since. Through support of the cycling community
he will be able to continue his fight for himself and his family.
Registration forms for vendor spaces and general information for the
Spring Bicycle Flea Market can be found online at www.lvvelo.org or by
calling the Velodrome office at (610) 967-7587. To make a donation to
the Alaric Gayfer Fund all contributions should be made payable to East
Coast Velo/Auxiliary Account, and sent to East Coast Velo, P.O. Box 53,
Bowers, PA 19511
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