The series, sponsored by the bank Credit Agricole, carries a first prize of 50,000 French francs (approx US$10,000) and a holiday in Reunion, and 2nd, 3rd and 4th prizes of FF30,000, FF20,000, FF15,000 and FF10,000. The next race in the series is Saturday's Tour du Haut-Var.
Today's race attracted entries from Aki Gipiemme, ONCE, Telekom, Lotto, Festina, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne, Polti, Cantina Tollo, Vlaanderen 2002, Amore e Vita, Brescialat, Saeco, Scrigno, TVM, Mapei-GB, Motorola, Cedico, Agrigel-La Creuse, Aubervilliers 93-Peugeot, Casino, GAN, ForceSud, Collstrop and Vendee U.
1. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once 4.14.55 (44,485 km/h) 2. Gianluca Pianegonda (Ita) Polti + 0.24 3. Servais Knaven (Ned) TVM + 0.27 4. Laurent Roux (Fra) TVM + 0.57 5. Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Mutuelle 6. Jan Ullrich (Ger) Telekom 7. Christophe Faudot (Fra) 8. Laurent Dufaux (Sch) Festina all s.t. 9. Michel Lafis (Swe) Telekom + 1.00 10. Francois Simon (Fra) Gan + 3.25 The peloton finished at 33.28, outside the time limit, so no further riders were classified.
It was Laurent Jalabert who initiated what soon became a break of 10 when he broke clear on a long climb 50km from the start. (The eleventh rider to be classified, the Italian Pozzi, had the distinction of riding most of the day between the break and the peloton.) "I decided that if I attacked, there would be less risk," said Laurent Jalabert. "And it's why I attacked again towards the end, because I'm still not quite in shape for sprints. I can't say that I'm handicapped.
But I still get a bit of pain [from my newly mended wrist fracture] when I pull hard on the bars. But things go fine when I've got my hands on the tops." That final attack came on a climb 20km from the finish. Earlier, the first to pullup to Laurent Jalabert, with 140km still to ride, had been his younger brother Nicolas. Also there was Laurent Roux, who won the prize for combativity -- his body weight (60kg) in Haribo sweets (candies).
There was a bit of debate between the brothers about who should go for the victory. But Laurent was fearful of the competition, and then, said Laurent, "Nicolas said his feet were hurting him." "The same for me," Laurent replied, but it was him who attacked on the last climb.
Coupe de France: L. Jalabert 50, Roux 20, N. Jalabert 18, Faudot 14, Simon 8 (next round Tour du Haut-Var, Fen 24)