Tour du Haut Var

Boscardin fastest to the line in Haut-Var

Laurent Jalabert and Lance Armstrong were the principal animators in the Tour du Haut-Var but Italian Bruno Boscardin surprised everyone when it came down to the final sprint.

After about 100 kilometres had been covered Jalabert and Armstrong set off after early attackers Michael Andersson (Swe, Telekom) and Cedric Vasseur (Fra, Gan) who went away after 10 kilometres and had a maximum lead of nine minutes. They were caught on the climb of the steep Cote des Tuilieres 57 kilometres from the finish.

Behind them the Mapei-team chased hard and the peloton regrouped 34 kilometres from the finish. On the last climb, Col du Pougnon, four riders broke away but were caught at the red flag and Boscardin attacked with 800 meters to go, surprising all the sprinters and took the biggest win in his professional career after being out with health problems for most of 1995.

Cat 1.2 -- France, Draguignan--Frejus) February 24 1996

 1. Bruno Boscardin (It, Festina) 199km in 4.59.28
 2. Leon Van Bon (Neth, Rabobank)
 3. Tristan Hoffman (Neth, TVM)
 4. Christophe Capelle (Fr, ForceSud)
 5. Johan Museeuw (Bel, Mapei-GB)
 6. Laurent Jalabert (Fr, ONCE)
 7. Gianluca Pianegonda (It, Polti)
 8. Andrei Tchmil (Rus, Lotto)
 9. Mario Aerts (Bel, Vlaanderen 2002)
10. Jan Ullrich (Ger, Telekom)
11. George Hincapie (USA, Motorola)
12. Biagio Conte (It, Scrigno-Blue Storm)
13. Gerard Rue (Fr, GAN)
14. Emannuel Magnien (Fr, Festina)
15. Marco Saligari (It, MG-Technogym)
16. Danny Daelman (Bel, Collstrp)
17. Dimitri Konychev (Rus, Aki-Gipiemme)
18. Mauro Radaelli (It, Brescialat)
19. Franco Ballerini (It, Mapei-GB)
20. Michael Lafis (Swe, Telekom)
21. Thierry Gouvenou (Fr, Aubervilliers 93-Peugeot)
and the peloton to 57th place all same time including:
28 Pensec (Fr, GAN)
38 Vasseur (Fr, GAN)
47 Brochard (Fr, Festina)
53. Delion (Fr, Aki-Gipiemme)
56 Leblanc (Fr, Polti)
65 Virenque (Fr, Festina) +9 secs
70 Rous (Fr, GAN) +13 secs
79 Gougot (Fr, Casino) +12.30
(79 classified)


Although the race included the customary hard climbs -- including the col de Mons (km61.5), col de Saint-Arnoux (88.5km), cote des Tuilieres (134.5km), col de Bougnon (178km) --the final 20km descent to the finish on the naval aerodrome at Frejus on the coast was a new feature that took off some of the edge that in the past has made Haut-Var a tough semi-classic.... It was uncharacteristic of this race for 59 riders to finish in the same time.

The first break came only a few kilometres into the race when Cedric Vasseur (GAN) took off with the Swede Michael Andersson (Telekom), building a maximum lead of 8 minutes. About 50km from the finish they were joined by Laurent Jalabert and Lance Armstrong and they stayed away together until 34km from the finish when Mapei pulled the peloton up to the break. Jalabert had initiated the break on the Bargemon climb, 100km from the finish, and only Armstrong had been able to stay with him although the American tested his fellow breakaway on the Tuilieres.

Before catching Vasseur and Andersson, Jalabert and Armstrong also put paid to a break by Christophe Basson (ForceSud -- like Jalabert from Mazamet) who had set off in lone pursuit.

After the race came together Laurent Brochard (Festina) initiated a break (which he was unable to sustain) that let Didier Rous (GAN) and Servais Knaven (TVM) get away, struggling into a headwind until they were caught at the kilometre to go mark, when Bruno Boscardin slipped away for only his second win in his four years as a pro with Gatorade, Polti and Festina (his other was a stage of the Hofbrau Cup in 1994).

The 26-year-old Italian, who was born in Geneva (in Switzerland) and both of whose parents' first language is French, had been given something of an ultimatum by the Festina team before the 1995 autumn classics for not having lived up to his potential. "I wasn't that harshly called to account," he said, "but they'd waited a long time to know what prevented me going really well. I couldn't eat on the bike; all the time I had an acid stomach. Then they discovered I had a bacterial infection in the intestines -- something that [directeur-sportif] Bruno Roussel couldn't have known before."

Boscardin continued: "In sprints I can finish well placed, but winnning them is difficult. Then, this time I took my chance... my thing is above all the time trial."


Having won the first round, the Classic Haribo, Laurent Jalabert consolidated his lead in Haut-Var in this season-long competition for French riders. He does not plan to ride another race in the series until the Classique des Alpes on June 1 (but don't forget that Armand De Las Cuevas won the Coupe last year with just one win!)

The next Coupe de France event is Cholet-Pays-de-Loire on March 24.

1. Laurent Jalabert 66 (+16)
2= Capelle 20 (+20)
2= Roux 20 (+0)
4. Nicolas Jalabert 18 (+0)
5. Faudot 14 (+0)
6. Simon 10 (+0)
7= Magnien 3 (+3)
7= Rue 3 (+3)