31st Tour du Haut Var, Cat 1.2
France, February 20, 1999
PreviewThe 31st Tour du Haut-Var and the 6th Classic Haribo are being staged this weekend and nearly 200 riders from 25 teams will ride the races around the southern hills of France. The two races are considered a perfect preparation for the more serious races in the coming weeks.
The favourite for the 180 kms Tour du Haut Var is the in-form Italian Davide Rebellin from the Polti team. He won the recent Tour Mediterranean after an imposing victory on the first stage which included Mont-Faron.
The Estonian Jaan Kirsipuu (Casino), the Belgian Johan Verstrepen (Lampre-Daikin), the Dutch rider Michaël Boogerd (Rabobank) and Max Van Heeswijk (Mapei) are also in good form following the Tour Mediterranea and the Etoile de Bessèges, and perhaps will profit here.
The principal difficulty of the Tour du Haut-Var comes at the 81 kms mark with the côte de Mons, a climb of 9 kms to a height of 814 metres. The côte des Tuilières which comes after 157 kms and the côte de Saint-Andrieux, only 14 kms from the finish are also challenges which will help determine the final outcome.
Draguignan-Draguignan, 180 kms:Italian Davide Rebellin (Polti) stamped his authority over the 31st edition of the Tour du Haut Var, which is the first round of the Coupe de France. The race contested over 180 kms around Draguignan was marred by the strong winds. Rebellin was in a group of leading group of 6 and he attacked in the last kms and managed to win by 5 seconds from Switzerland's Beat Zberg (Rabobank) and the French rider Christophe Bassons (La Française des Jeux).
Christophe Bassons is now leading the Coupe de France (a competition open to French riders or French registered teams only) and will defend his lead in the second round on Sunday at the Classic Haribo, between Uzes and Marseilles (204 km).
The Belgian Axel Merckx (Mapei), one of the revelations in last year's Tour de France, was one of the driving forces in this race and came fourth. The win and the parcours made it a very testing and selective event.
Last year's winner Laurent Jalabert could not defend its title this year because of the refusal of Manolo Saiz, his sporting director with the ONCE team, to allow the team to race in France. The other notable absentee from the race was Richard Virenque, who is still to regain race fitness after a late signing with the Italian team Polti.
194 riders in 25 teams started this race in Draguignan - but only 63 finished.
1. Davide Rebellin (Ita) Polti 4.39.50 2. Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 0.05 3. Christophe Bassons (Fra) La Française des Jeux 0.05 4. Axel Merckx (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step 0.05 5. Nicolaj-Bo Larsen (Den) Team Home Jack and Jones 1.50 6. Benoît Salmon (Fra) Casino 1.52 7. Sébastien Demarbaix (Bel) Lotto-Mobistar 1.56 8. Stéphane Heulot (Fra) La Française des Jeux 2.24 9. Gilles Bouvard (Fra) Home Market-Ville Charleroi 2.25 10. Anthony Morin (Fra) La Française des Jeux 2.35 11. Andreï Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Mobistar 2.40 12. Yvon Ledanois (Fra) La Française des Jeux 2.40 13. Christopher Jenner (NZL) Crédit Agricole 2.40 14. Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco-Cannondale 2.40 15. François Simon (Fra) Crédit Agricole 2.40 Started: 194 Finished: 63
1969 Raymond Poulidor (Fra) 1970 René Grelin (Fra) 1971 Désiré Letort (Fra) 1972 Frans Verbeeck (Bel) 1973 Joop Zoetemelk (Ned) 1974 Gerben Karstens (Ned) 1975 Raymond Delisle (Fra) 1976 Frans Verbeeck (Bel) 1977 Bernard Thevenet (Fra) 1978 Freddy Maertens (Bel) 1979 Joop Zoetemelk (Ned) 1980 Pascal Simon (Fra) 1981 Jacques Bossis (Fra) 1982 Sean Kelly (Ire) 1983 Joop Zoetemelk (Ned) 1984 Eric Caritoux (Fra) 1985 Charly Mottet (Fra) 1986 Pascal Simon (Fra) 1987 Rolf Goelz (Ger) 1988 Luc Roosen (Bel) 1989 Gerard Rué (Fra) 1990 Luc Leblanc (Fra) 1991 Eric Caritoux (Fra) 1992 Gerard Rué (Fra) 1993 Thierry Claveyrolat (Fra) 1994 Laurent Brochard (Fra) 1995 Marco Lietti (Ita) 1996 Bruno Boscardin (Swi) 1997 Rodolfo Massi (Ita) 1998 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) 1999 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Polti
Mario from Berlin compiles the winner's lists