Tour du Haut Var, Cat 1.2

France, February 22, 1997

1996 Results and Reports

Principal participants:

FESTINA: Boscardin (Swi), Laurent, Magnien, Virenque, Halgand
MAPEI-GB: Museeuw (Bel), Bomans (Bel), Steels (Bel)
ONCE: Jalabert (Fra), Diaz de Otazu, Mauleon, Zarrabeitia
POLTI: Leblanc (Fra), Brasi, Outschakov (Ukr), Merckx (Bel)
COFIDIS: Moncoutie, Capelle, Gaumont, Julich (USA), Millar (GB), Rinero,Thibout, Van De Laer  Bel)
LA FRANCAISE DES JEUX: Guesdon, Mengin, Sciandri (GB), Seigneur, Heulot, Horner(USA), Jan, Mentheour
GAN: Boardman (GB), Ledanois, Pensec, Rue, Sunderland (Aus), Teyssier, Vasseur,Hubert;
RABOBANK: Bruyneel (Bel), Breukink, Jonker, Luttenberger (Austria)
BATIK: Berzin (Rus), Volpi, Cenghialta; SAECO: Gotti, Frigo, Rich (Ger)
TVM: Roux (Fra), Petilleau (Fra), Hoffman, Michaelsen (Den)
CASINO: Durand, Massi (Ita), Bozzi, Kirsipuu (Est), Barthe, Aus (Est), Lefevre,Richard (Swi)
SCRIGNO: Guidi, S. Casagrande
LOTTO: Abdujaparov (Uzb), Tchmil (Ukr), Wauters
REFIN: Colage, Bettin, Lietti
KELME: Cabello, Garcia Camacho
BRESCIALAT: Serpellini, Raimondi
AMORE E VITA: Bo Larsen (Nor), Magnusson (Swe), Meloni
CANTINA TOLLO: Arzilli, Cembali, Peschel (Ger)
MUTUELLE DE SEINE-ET-MARNE: Lamour, Pillon, Rault, Blevin, Delrieu, Dojwa, Gabriel, Guilbert
VLAANDEREN 2002: Roosen, D'Hollander, Aerts
BIGMAT-AUBER 93: Lino, Arroyo (Mex), Bourguignon, Gouvenou, Genty, Lance, Ravaleu, Talmant
IDEAL: Bobrik (Rus), Caruso
MONTANARI: Biasci (Ita), Calzolari (Ita)
CEDICO: Bouillon, Kozlitine (Kaz)
NURNBERGER: Zemke, Audehm


 1. Rodolfo Massi (Ita) Casino   202 km in 5.09.25
 2. Richard Virenque (Fra) Festina          + 1.49
 3. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once               s.t.
 4. Patrick Jonker (Aus) Rabobank           + 2.03
 5. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) Once              s.t.
 6. Emmanuel Magnien (Fra) Festina          + 2.58
 7. Giuseppe Tartaggia (Ita) Batik       
 8. Marco Velo (Ita) Brescialat         
 9. Miguel Arroyo (Mex) Big Mat-Auber     all s.t.
10. Nicola Ramacciotti (Ita) Cantina Tollo  + 3.03
11. Andrei Tchmil (Ukr, Lotto-Mobistar-Isoglass)
12. Stefano Finesso (Ita, Ideal)
13.  Yvon Ledanois (Fra, GAN)
14. Thierry Bourguignon (Fra, BigMat-Auber 93)
15. Stephane Heulot (Fra, La Francaise des Jeux) all s.t.
18. Patrice Halgand (Fra, Festina-Lotus)    + 5.35
24. Laurent Roux (Fra, TVM)  		    +13.23

(24 riders classified, the peloton finished outside the time limit)

Race Report

Italian Rodolfo Massi achieved his first victory and his team's (Casino) at the French Classic Tour du Haut Var disputed today. Rodolfo Massi, one of the veterans of the peloton with 32 years of age and who in the past Giro won the tenth stage, beat the French Richard Virenque and Laurent Jalabert who arrived in that order after him.

Massi cemented his victory some kilometers from the finish, when he was able to break the control of the sprinter's teams which were dominating the peloton and reach a time gap that allowed him to arrive alone to Draguignan, city where the finish line was located. The Italian rolleur rode the 202 kilometers of the Tour du Haut Var, (first of of six races of the French Cup) in a time of 5:09:25 almost two minutes ahead of great favorite Laurent Jalabert, who had to be happy with third place when he lost on the sprint to his French compatriot Virenque.

More Reporting

Last year, the Tour du Haur Var lost some of its hard riders' character -- it was traditionally noted as a race that didn't finish in a sprint -- when the principal difficulties were confined to the first part of the race and the finish in Frejus came after a longish descent. This year it returned to tradition, with climbs at km52 (cote des Marjoris), col de Mons (km80.5), col de Saint-Arnoux (km107.5), km173.5 (cote de Taradeau) and, 14km from the finish at km188 (col des Tuilieres).

The race came to life on the col de Mons, where Richard Virenque attacked twice, countered by Rodolfo Massi. Then Laurent Jalabert launched an attack, being followed over the summit by Massi and at 18 seconds by Virenque, Patrice Halgand, GAN's Scott Sunderland and Cantina Tollo's Massimiliano Gentili. By km100 the six were together, with just 16 counter-attackers chasing further back, including Emmanuel Magnien, Stephane Heulot, Laurent Roux, Yvon Ledanois, Thierry Bourguignon, Andrei Tchmil, Fabrizio Guidi, Mikel Zarrabeitia and Patrick Jonker.

Progressively, in the face of attacks by accelerations by Virenque and Jalabert, Halgand, Sunderland and Gentili were dropped from the lead group. On the Tuilieres, the 31-year-old Massi, who had earlier given a fair impression of a rider who had lost the edge of his strength, attacked, leaving Jalabert and Virenque looking in vain to each other to chase him down. A fairly deep-seated rivalry seems to have developed between Virenque and Jalabert since the Worlds in Lugano where both felt they had claims to be French team leader, though after Massi's coup both diplomatically but not entirely convincingly spoke of being lacking in the strength to follow him. Such is bike racing... Virenque took the sprint for second place to claim the first lead in the season-long Coupe de France competition (see report on Classic Haribo for more on this).