The race will miss the Col d'Eze for the second time since 1969. The first time was in 1977 when Freddy Maertens won the final 8 km time trial on flat roads. (It is the city of Nice that had requested this change.) Instead of taking the Rhone valley the route will go deep into the Massif Central, with a stage finish on the top of Causse Noir in Millau, and try one more time to finish in Chalvignac, where the race got snowed in last year and the stage was cancelled.
March 10 - 17 Sunday 10 Stage 1 Chateauroux - Saint-Amand-Montrond 175 km Monday 11 Stage 2 Dun-sur-Auron - Aubusson 175 km Tuesday 12 Stage 3 Vassiviere-en-Limousin - Chalvignac 165 km Wednesday 13 Stage 4 Maurs-la-Jolie - Millau (Causse Noir) 163 km Thursday 14 Stage 5 Millau - Millau 158 km Friday 15 Stage 6 Vitrolles - Saint-Tropez 197 km Saturday 16 Stage 7 Saint-Tropez - Antibes 191 km Sunday 17 Stage 8a Nice - Nice 96 km Sunday 17 Stage 8b Antibes - Nice (Individual time trial) 18 km
15 teams have been selected and here are the principal challengers: Laurent Jalabert, Vladislav Bobrik, Richard Virenque, Pascal Richard, Rolf Jaermann, Laurent Dufaux, Bjarne Riis, Mario Cipollini, Wilfried Nelissen, Andrej Tchmil, Franck Vandenbroucke, Axel Merckx, Maximilian Sciandri, Franco Ballerini, Chris Boardman, Mauro Gianetti, Lance Armstrong, Abraham Olano, Frederic Moncassin, Eddy Seigneur, Laurent Madouas, Gerard Rue, Luc Leblanc, Laurent Brochard.
ONCE ( L. Jalabert) GAN (Boardman, Rue, Rous) AGRIGEL-LA CREUSE (Durand, Marie) AUBERVILLIERS-93 PEUGEOT (Pontier, Saugrain) LA MUTUELLE DE SEINE-ET-MARNE (N. Jalabert) CASINO (Agnolutto, Mengin) FORCESUD (Arnould, Capelle) FESTINA (Virenque, Magnien) MAPEI-GB (Olano, Steels, Vandenbroucke) GEWISS (Gotti) SAECO (Cipollini) POLTI (Leblanc) MG (Bugno, Richard) AKI (Delion) LOTTO (Nelissen, Tchmil) TELEKOM (Riis) MOTOROLA (Armstrong) KELME ARTIACH (Cubino) COLLSTROP (Capiot)
10, 6 and 4 seconds on stage 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 plus 3, 2 and 1 seconds in the two intermediate sprints on each stage. 6, 4 and 2 seconds on stage 8a and 3, 2 and 1 seconds in one intermediate sprint.
Stage 4: Causse Noire (finish). Stage 7: Col de Mons. Stage 8a: Col de Saint-Roch and Col des Tourettes.
1. Frederic Moncassin (France, GAN) 175.5km in 4.24.10 2. Tom Steels (Belgium, Mapei) 3. Wilfried Nelissen (Belgium, Lotto) 4. Silvio Martinello (Italy, Saeco) 5. Lars Michaelsen (Denmark, Festina) 6. Jaan Kirsipuu (Estonia, Petit Casino-C'est votre equipe) 7. Mario Cipollini (Italy, Saeco) 8. Ivan Cerioli (Italy, Gewiss-Playbus) 9. Nicolas Jalabert (France, La Mutuelle Seine et Marne) 10. Franck Laurance (France, La Mutuelle Seine et Marne) 11. Laurent Jalabert (Fr, ONCE) 12. Christophe Capelle (Fr, ForceSud) 13. Frederic Guesdon (Fr, Team Polti) 14. Lauri Aus (Estonia, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne) 15. Nicola Loda (It, MG-Technogym) 16. Frederic Pontier (Fr, Aubervilliers 93-Peugeot) 17. Laurent Brochard (fr, Festina) 18. Rolf Jaermann (Swi, MG-Technogym) 19. Giuseppe Citterio (It, Aki-Gipiemme) 20. Dirk Baldinger (Ger, Team Polti) 21. Thierry Gouvenou (Fr, Aubervilliers 93-Peugeot) 22. Denis Zanette (It, Aki-Gipiemme) 23. Francois Simon (Fr, GAN) 24. Pascal Chanteur (Fr, Casino-C'est votre equipe) 25. Claude Lamour (Fr, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne) 26. Laurent Pillon (Fr, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne) 27. Stephen Hodge (Australia, Festina) 28. Didier Rous (Fr, GAN) 29. Cedric Vasseur (Fr, GAN) 30. Johan Capiot (Bel, Collstrop) also 57. Chris Boardman (GB, GAN) 63. Sean Yates (GB, Motorola) all s.t.(152 starters, 152 finishers, all s.t. down to 150th place) Points classsification: 1. Moncassin Best climber: 1. Brochard Team: La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne
When they are caught, Thierry Marie (Fr, Agrigel) attacks, being joined by Laurent Brochard (Fr, Festina) and Stefano Casagrande (MG). Frederic Guesdon (Fr, Polti) and Pascal Chanteur (Fr, Casino) also try unsuccessfully to get off the front of the peloton, and the break is closed down 10km from the finish. Only Saeco make any attempt to lead out a sprinter (Mario Cipollini), but into the wind ease off to wait for the last kilometre.
But it's Johan Capiot (Bel, Collstrop) who launches a sprint at the kilometre mark and Tom Steels (Bel, Mapei) takes his wheel. Frederic Moncassin in turn takes Steel's wheel and waits to 200km to launch himself off it for the line. (Moncassin punctured twice during the course of the stage, but team members waited to pace him back; Franck Vandenbroucke crashed 20km from the line, but without injury and was paced back; Tom Steels crashed near the finish unseen by the team and had to rejoin the peloton alone -- he reckons this took the edge off his finishing sprint.)
Moncassin says he did a lot of sprint training behind a motorbike (ridden by his wife Elodie) this winter. "I always beat Elodie. But I think she often eased off to let me pass her in the last 200 metres."
Virenque was back in the main group as the event raced around two twenty kilometer circuits of the finish town of St Amand Montrond. Despite many attacks on the undulating lap, the whole field headed down to the finish line together.
Most people expected "Super Mario" Cipollini to take the flag. It looked as if he was certain to win but in the last few meters before the line he was passed by several riders, including French sprinter Frederic Moncassin, already second last week in the Belgian semi classic Kuurne Brussels Kuurne, who garnered his first win of the year.
Moncassin also took the overall lead in the event which finishes in Nice next Sunday. The Motorola team had a quiet day with all the riders finishing in the same time as the winner, but their goals are further down the road towards Nice. Both Lance Armstrong and Max Sciandri are in excellent form and should have a good chance of winning a stage before the end.
1. Wilfried Nelissen (Belgium, Lotto) 158km in 3.52.4 (10 secs bonif)*** 2. Mario Cipollini (Italy, Saeco) (6 secs bonif) 3. Tom Steels (Belgium, Mapei-Playbus) (4 secs bonif) 4. Laurent Jalabert (France, ONCE) 5. Frederic Moncassin (France, GAN) 6. Nicola Loda (Italy, MG) 7. Nicolas Jalabert (France, La Mutuelle de Seine et Marne) 8. Francois Simon (France, GAN) 9. Brian Holm (Denmark, Telekom) 10. Andrea Peron (Italy, Motorola) 11. Laurent Madouas (Fr, Motorola) 12. Davide Rebellin (It, Team Polti) 13. Pascal Chanteur (Fr, Casino) 14. Lars Michaelsen (Den, Festina) 15. Lance Armstrong (USA, Motorola) 16. Chris Boardman (GB, GAN) 17. Johan Capiot (Bel, Collstrop) 18. Stephane Heulot (Fr, GAN) 19. Didier Rous (Fr, GAN) 20. Mariano Rojas (Sp, ONCE) 21. Jose Rodriguez (Sp, Kelme) 22. Luc Leblanc (Fr, Team Polti) 23. Frederic Guesdon (Fr, Team Polti) 24. Stephane Goubert (Fr, Festina) 25. Michel Lafis (Swe, Telekom) 26. Patrick Jonker (Australia, ONCE) 27. Laurent Dufaux (Swi, Festina) 28. Max Sciandri (GB, Motorola) 29. Christophe Capelle (Fr, ForceSud) 30. Andrei Tchmil (Rus, Lotto) 31. Franck Laurance (Fr, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne) 32. Ronan Pensec (Fr, GAN) also 42. Franck Vandenbroucke (Bel, Mapei) 43. Gerard Rue (Fr, GAN) 84. Richard Virenque (Fr, Festina) 122. Pascal Richard (Swi, MG) 123. Jacky Durand (Fr, Agrigel-La Creuse) all s.t. as 10th place > 150. Laurent (Fr, Agrigel-La Creuse) +13.26 151. Thierry Marie (Fr, Agrigel-La Creuse) s.t. (152 starters, 1 abandon -- Bertoletti, It, Gewiss) Note: Finish bonifications were not awarded on stage 1, and after this stage will figure again in the 5th, 6th and 7th stages (10, 6, 4). Stages 2, 5, 6, 7 will also each feature two intermediate sprints offering 3, 2 and 1 seconds
Intermediate bonuses on stage 2:Thierry Marie 3+3 (Marie was away alone for 90km, being caught as the race reached the 35km finishing circuit at Aubusson) Laurent Jalabert 2+2 Moncassin 1+1
Overall:1. Wilfried Nelissen (Bel) Lotto 8.16.44 2. Mario Cipollini (Ita) Saeco + 0.04 3. Tom Steels (Bel) Mapei-GB + 0.06 4. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once s.t. 5. Frederic Moncassin (Fra) Gan + 0.08 6. Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Mutuelle + 0.10 7. Silvio Martinello (Italy, Saeco) 8. Lars Michaelsen (Denmark, Festina) 9. Nicola Loda (Ita) MG-Technogym 10. Francois Simon (Fra) Gan all s.t. as N. Jalabert 11. Brian Holm (Den, Telekom) 12. Franck Laurance (Fr, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne) 13. Andrea Peron (It, Motorola) 14. Laurent Madouas (Fr, Motorola) 15. Christophe Capelle (Fr, ForceSud) 16. Davide Rebellin (It, Team Polti) 17. Frederic Gesdon (Fr, Team Polti) 18. Pascal Chanteur (Fr, Casino) 19. Lauri Aus (Estonia, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne) 20. Lance Armstrong (USA, Motorola) 21. Chris Boardman (GB, GAN) also 32. Luc Leblanc (Fr, Team Polti) 51. Abraham Olano (Sp, Mapei) 56. Franck Vandenbroucke (Bel, Mapei) 95. Richard Virenque (Fr, Festina) all s.t. as 10th place > 158. Bjarne Riis (Den, Telekom) +58 secs Points: 1. Wilfried Nelissen Best climber: 1. Laurent Brochard Team classification: 1. GAN
Stage report:Another sunny day, with all of yesterday's 152 starters on the line. Thierry Marie (Fr, Agrigel-La Creuse) broke away after 18km and at km30 his lead was 3 minutes. As yesterday, it was ONCE that picked up the pace at the head of the chasing peloton, bringing the gap down to two minutes, after which ONCE gave up the chase since they were getting no help from other teams.
So by km66 Marie's lead had opened up again -- to 7.40. A bit later ONCE resumed the chase and by km100 Marie was within striking distance. Laurent Jalabert went to the front of the peloton, profiting from an acceleration by his team-mates and then took six other riders off the front of the chasers to rejoin Marie at km111 -- race leader Frederic Moncassin (GAN); Emmanuel Magnien, Stephane Goubert, Lars Michaelsen (Festina); Andrei Tchmil (Lotto); and Aitor Garmendia (ONCE). A few hundred metres further on the whole race came back together.
On the final circuit approaching Aubusson with about 10km to go, Chris Boardman (GAN) went off the front of the peloton, taking with him Franck Vandenbroucke (Mapei) and Bruno Boscardin (Festina), but ONCE brought them to heel. Lotto were prominent as the race came up to the kilometre to go point as were Mario Cipollini's Saeco. Nelissen made the best use of the lead-out....and his strength, the finish was at the top of a kilometre-long rise, never Cipollini's favourite sort of finish. Thierry Marie paid for his early efforts, coming in 13.26 down.
Stage 3 Vassiviere-Chalvignac 163 km:1. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once 2. Lance Armstrong (USA) Motorola + 0.16 3. Chris Boardman (Eng) Gan s.t. 4. Laurent Dufaux (Sch) Festina + 0.18 5. Luc Leblanc (Fra) Polti s.t. 6. Franck Vandenbroucke (Bel, Mapei) + 0.29 7. Andrea Peron (It, Motorola) + 0.51 8. Andrei Tchmil (Ukr, Lotto) + 0.52 9. Laurent Brochard (France, Festina) + 0.54 10. Stephane Heulot (France, GAN) + 0.55 11. Inigo Cuesta (Sp, ONCE) s.t. 12. Laurent Madouas (Fr, Motorola) + 0.58 13. Stephane Goubert (Fr, Festina) + 1.08 14. Max Sciandri (GB, Motorola) s.t. 15. Marco Saligari (It, MG-Technogym) + 1.20 16. Carlo Bomans (Bel, Mapei-GB) + 1.24 17. Brian Holm (Den, Telekom) s.t. 18. Rolf Jaermann (Swi, MG-Technogym) + 1.34 19. Francesco Cabello (Sp, Kelme-Artiach) s.t. 20. Roberto Petito (It, Seco) + 1.57 21. Didier Rous (Fr, GAN) 22. Mariano Rojas (Sp, ONCE) + 2.18 23. Axel Merckx (Bel, Motorola) s.t. 24. Aitor Garmendia (Sp, ONCE) + 2.38 25. Gilles Bouvard (Fr, Collstrop) + 3.05 26. Richard Virenque (Fr, Festina) + 3.07 27. Bruno Boscardin (It, Festina) + 4.22 28. Abraham Olano (Sp, Mapei-GB) + 7.18 29. Nicolas Aubier (Fr, Casino) + 9.22 30. Laurent Pillon (Fr, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne) 31. Thierry Bourguignon (Fr, ForceSud) 32. Arturas Kasputis (Lith, Casino) all s.t. down to 109th > also 137. Mario Cipollini (It, Saeco) +22.30 151 starters, 139 finishers Abandons: Durand, T. Marie, D. Marie, Laurance, Maignan, Henry, Zanoli, J-J Gomez, Ruiz, D. Rebellin, Bobrik, Cerioli
Overall:1. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once 12.21.11 2. Lance Armstrong (USA) Motorola + 0.20 3. Chris Boardman (Eng) Gan s.t. 4. Laurent Dufaux (Sch) Festina + 0.22 5. Luc Leblanc (Fra) Polti s.t. 6. Franck Vandenbroucke (Bel) Mapei + 0.33 7. Peron + 0.55 8. Tchmil + 0.56 9. Brochard + 0.58 10. Madouas + 0.59 11. Heulot 12. Cuesta s.t. 13. Goubert + 1.12 14. Sciandri s.t. 15. Saligari + 1.24 16. Holm + 1.28 17. Bomans s.t. 18. Jaermann + 1.38 19. Cabello s.t. 20. R. Petito + 2.01 21. Rous + 2.09 22. Rojas + 2.22 23. Merckx s.t. 24. Garmendia + 2.42 25. Bouvard + 3.09 26. Virenque + 3.11 27. Boscardin + 4.26 28. Olano + 7.22 29. Nelissen + 9.16 30. Steels + 9.22
Stage 3 ReportMario Cipollini (It, Saeco) attacked at km9, breaking clear with Mariano Rojas (Sp, ONCE) policing him. Their lead reached 8.40 at km50 and the first hour of the race covered 45.6km. The GAN, Mapei and Motorola teams organised the chase at the head of the peloton and Cipollini was picked up at km100 and Rojas at km104.
At km136, Lance Armstrong (USA, Motorola) and team-mate Andrea Peron (It) launched a surprise attack on a bendy descent coming near the finish. Sixteen riders counter-attacked splitting the peloton, among them Laurent Jalabert (Fr, ONCE), Chris Boardman (GB, GAN), Franck Vandenbroucke (Bel, Mapei), Laurent Dufaux (Swi, Festina), Laurent Madouas (Fr, Motorola), Stephane Heulot and Didier Rous (Fr, GAN), Laurent Brochard (Fr, Festina), Andrei Tchmil (Rus, Lotto) and Axel Merckx (Bel, Motorola).
They were soon joined by Luc Leblanc (Fr, Polti) and Aitor Garmendia (Sp, ONCE). Abraham Olano (Sp, Mapei) and Richard Virenque (Fr, Festina) were able to break clear of the peloton but unable to get up to the break.
At km143 Madouas broke clear of the lead group and built 10 seconds lead; Brochard was able to get up to him. Behind the Jalabert group, a small counter-attack of Inigo Cuesta (Sp. ONCE), Cabello (Sp, Kelme), Mariano Rojas (Sp, ONCE), Carlo Bomans, Bouvard and Goubert was at 17 secs, with Olano and Virenque at 30 secs.
With 5km to the finish, a kilometre or so before the final climb, the Jalabert group bridged with Madouas and Brochard. Armstrong then attacked on the steepest part of the climb, about 3km from the finish, being immediately countered by Jalabert.
Jalabert's acceleration took him clear and initially Armstrong and Leblanc were the chasers. Leblanc dropped back from Armstrong and Boardman clawed his way up to him.