Paris-Nice, Cat 2.1

France, March 9-16, 1997

Stages 4 to Final GC

  • Stage 1 to 3
  • Stage Four
  • Stage Five
  • Stage Six
  • Stage Seven
  • Stage 8a
  • Stage 8b and Final GC
  • Complete Final GC

    Stage 4, Montlucon-Clermont-Ferrand, 165km:

     1. Pascal Chanteur (France) Casino 			3.59.43
     2. Laurent Dufaux (Switzerland) Festina 
     3. Laurent Jalabert (France) ONCE 
     4. Didier Rous (France) Festina 
     5. Benoit Salmon (France) Lotto 
     6. Santiago Blanco (Spain) Banesto 
     7. Gilles Bouvard (France) Festina			all s.t.
     8. Fabio Baldato (Italy) MG-Technogym 			0.14
     9. Frederic Pontier (France) Casino 
    10. Tom Steels (Belgium) Mapei 
    11. Vyacheslav Ekimov (Russia) US Postal 
    12. Nicolas Jalabert (France) Cofidis 
    13. Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spain) Kelme 
    14. Enrico Cassani (Italy) Polti 
    15. Jose Luis Arrieta (Spain) Banesto 
    16. Fabrice Gougot (France) Casino 
    17. Miguel Arroyo (Mexico) Big Mat 
    18. Pascal Lino (France) Big Mat 
    19. Franck Bouyer (France) Francaise des Jeux 
    20. Giuseppe Calcaterra (Italy) Saeco all same time 
        30. Joona Laukka (Fin)               	0.14
        35. Maximilian Sciandri (Gbr)        	0.14
        43. Peter Meinert (Den)              	0.14
        97. Neil Stephens (Aus)            		6:22
       102. Henk Vogels (Aus)              		6:22 
       103. Scott Sunderland (Aus)         		6:22 
       110. Gordon Fraser (Can)                    15:47 
       123. Stuart O'Grady (Aus)                   15:47

    GC after Stage 4

     1. Jalabert                                  	    12:46:36
     2. Chanteur                         			0.16
     3. Steels                                  		0.26
     4. Dufaux                                          	0.28
     5. Rous                                            	0.30
     6. Christophe Moreau (France) Festina              	0.39
     7. Bouvard                                         	0.39
     8. Stephane Heulot (France) Francaise des Jeux     	0.40
     9. Ekimov                                          	0.42
    10 Blanco                                          	0.44
    11. Salmon                                         	0.44
    12. Johan Museeuw (Belgium) Mapei                  	0.44
    13. Pascal Lino (France) Big Mat                   	0.45
    14. Evgeny Berzin (Russia) Batik                   	0.51
    15. Armand de las Cuevas (France) Banesto          	0.51
    16. Cassani                                        	0.52
    17. Richard Virenque (France) Festina              	0.52
    18. Ermanno Brignoli (Italy) Batik                 	0.53
    19. Tony Rominger (Switzerland) Cofidis            	0.55
    20. Max Sciandri (Britain) Francaise des Jeux      	0.56
        22. Peter Meinert (Den)            		 0.59
        41. Joona Laukka (Fin)            		 1:17 
        82. Scott Sunderland (Aus)        		 7:03 
        83. Henk Vogels (Aus)             		 7:04 
        84. Neil Stephens (Aus)           		 7:06 
       110. Stuart O'Grady (Aus)         		16:24 
       113. Gordon Fraser (Can)          		16:47

    Stage 4 Report

    Defending champion Laurent Jalabert retained the race leader's white jersey as he came in third in the fourth stage of the Paris-Nice race won by fellow Frenchman Pascal Chanteur on Wednesday.

    Chanteur took the 165-km stage from Montlucon to Clermont in just under four hours, ahead of Laurent Dufaux of Switzerland.

    Jalabert fought off numerous attacks, most notably from the Festina team, and the Frenchman was at the front of the leading group in the final burst for the finish 22 kms out with Chanteur and Dufaux in hot pursuit.

    The Mapei team of Belgian Tom Steels, who won the second and third stages to start the fourth only three seconds behind the leader, also attacked.

    But Jalabert was equal to all their efforts and now has a 16-second lead over Chanteur with Steels dropping to third overall, 26 seconds behind.

    The 29-year-old Chanteur, whose career was interrupted two years ago by a serious road accident, finally overtook Jalabert for a fine stage victory.

    Two of the favourites, Ukrainian Andrei Tchmil and Melchior Mauri of Spain, did not even come in with the second peloton of 45 riders 14 seconds behind the first seven.

    Stage 5, Cournon d'Auvergne-Venissieux, 197 kms:

     1. Tom Steels (Belgium) Mapei 				5.20.48 
     2. Mario Cipollini (Italy) Saeco 
     3. Laurent Jalabert (France) ONCE 
     4. Jean Jacques Henry (France) Big Mat 
     5. Christophe Cappelle (France) Cofidis 
     6. Fabio Baldato (Italy) MG-Technogym 
     7. Gordon Fraser (Canada) Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne 
     8. Adriano Baffi (Italy) US Postal 
     9. Frederic Moncassin (France) GAN 
    10. Christophe Moreau (France) Festina 
    11. Nicola Loda (Italy) MG-Technogym 
    12. Henk Vogels (Australia) GAN 
    13. Pascal Chanteur (France) Casino 
    14. Laurent Pillon (France) Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne 
    15. Lauri Aus (Estonia) Casino 
    16. Gilles Talmant (France) Big Mat 
    17. Stuart O'Grady (Australia) GAN 
    18. David Etxabarria (Spain) Once 
    19. Ludovic Auger (France) Big Mat 
    20. Christophe Mengin (France) Francaise des Jeux  
    50. Scott Sunderland (Aus) 
    53. Neil Stephens (Aus) 
    60. Peter Meinert (Den) 
    100. Maximilian Sciandri (GB) 				all s.t. 
    Retired: Bobby Julich (USA) 

    GC after Stage 5

     1. Jalabert                                        18:07:14
     2. Chanteur                         			0.24
     3. Steels                                  		0.26
     4. Laurent Dufaux (Switzerland) Festina            	0.36
     5. Didier Rous (France) Festina                    	0.40
     6. Christophe Moreau (France) Festina              	0.47
     7. Gilles Bouvard (France) Festina                 	0.49
     8. Stephane Heulot (France) Francaise des Jeux     	0.50
     9. Vjacheslav Ekimov (Russia) US Postal            	0.52
    10. Santiago Blanco (Spain) Banesto                 	0.54
    11. Benoit Salmon (France) Lotto                    	0.54
    12. Johan Museeuw (Belgium) Mapei                   	0.54
    13. Pascal Lino (France) Big Mat                    	0.55
    14. Evgeny Berzin (Russia) Batik 			1.01
    15. Armand de las Cuevas (France) Banesto         	1:01
    16. Enrico Cassani (Italy) Polti                  	1:02
    17. Richard Virenque (France) Festina             	1:02
    18. Ermanno Brignoli (Italy) Batik                	1:03
    19. Tony Rominger (Switzerland) Cofidis           	1:05
    20. Max Sciandri (Britain) Francaise des Jeux     	1:06
     22. Peter Meinert (Den)           			1:09 
     41. Joona Laukka (Fin)            			1:27 
     82. Scott Sunderland (Aus)        			7:13 
     83. Henk Vogels (Aus)             			7:14 
     84. Neil Stephens (Aus)           			7:16 
    108. Stuart O'Grady (Aus)         		       16:34 
    109. Gordon Fraser (Can)          		       16:57

    Stage 5 Report

    Belgian Tom Steels confirmed he is the new sprinter to beat when he won the fifth stage of the Paris-Nice race on Thursday to record his third stage victory of the event.

    Frenchman Laurent Jalabert, looking for a third successive victory in Nice on Sunday, came in third and retained the race leader's white jersey he has worn since the first day when he won the opening stage time trial.

    He is now 24 seconds ahead of compatriot Pascal Chanteur and 26 in front of Steels.

    The Belgian, who also won the second and third stages, beat Italian sprint specialist Mario Cipollini to the line at the end of the 197-km stage from Cournon d'Auvergne, the longest of the eight-day race.

    There was no repeat of Wednesday's fast fourth stage with constant attacks as the riders battled against a strong wind knowing also that they face a tough climb of Mont Ventoux during Friday's 180-km sixth stage from Montelimar to Sisteron.

    Stage 6, Montelimar-Sisteron, 180 kms:

     1. Laurent Jalabert (France) ONCE 		    4.34.12
     2. Laurent Dufaux (Switzerland) Festina         	s.t.
     3. Santiago Blanco (Spain) Banesto              	0.01
     4. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spain) Once               	0.03
     5. Scott Sunderland (Australia) GAN          		1:18
     6. Johan Museeuw (Belgium) Mapei 
     7. Vyacheslav Ekimov (Russsia) US Postal 
     8. Pascal Chanteur (France) Casino 
     9. Christophe Moreau (France) Festina 
    10. Didier Rous (France) Festina 
    11. Stephane Heulot (France) Francaise des Jeux 
    12. Pascal Lino (France) Bigmat 
    13. Francisco Benitez (Spain) Kelme 
    14. Armand de Las Cuevas (France) Banesto 
    15. Benoit Salmon (France) Lotto 
    16. Ermanno Brignoli (Italy) Batik 
    17. Richard Virenque (France) Festina 
    18. Fabrice Gougot (France) Casino 			s.t.
    19. Joerg Jaksche (Germany) Polti			8:18 
    20. Mauro Gianetti (Switzerland) Francaise des Jeux same s.t.
       21. Peter Meinert (Den)         at 8:20 
       27. Neil Stephens (Aus)            8:24 
       52. Maximilian Sciandri (Gbr)     10:57 
       64. Joona Laukka (Fin)            10:57 
       77. Stuart O'Grady (Aus)          17:06 
      116. Henk Vogels (Aus)             23:16

    GC after Stage 6

     1. Jalabert        			    22.41.10
     2. Dufaux                                  	0.46 
     3. Blanco                                  	1:03
     4. Zarrabeitia                             	1:31
     5. Chanteur                                	1:58
     6. Rous                                    	2:14
     7. Moreau                                  	2:21
     8. Heulot                                  	2:24
     9. Ekimov                                  	2:28
    10. Salmon
    11. Museeuw                                   all s.t.
    12. Lino                                    	2:29
    13. De Las Cuevas                           	2:35
    14. Virenque                                	2:36
    15. Brignoli                               	2:37
    16. Gougot                                  	2:45
    17. Benitez                                 	s.t.
    18. Sunderland                              	8:47
    19. Gilles Bouvard (France) Festina         	9:20
    20. Peter Meinert (Denmark) US Postal       	9:45
     27. Maximilian Sciandri (Gbr)     	       12:19 
     35. Joona Laukka (Fin)            	       12:40 
     53. Neil Stephens (Aus)           	       15:56 
    106. Henk Vogels (Aus)             	       30:46 
    107. Stuart O'Grady (Aus)          	       33:50

    Stage 6 Report

    Frenchman Laurent Jalabert moved close to a third straight Paris-Nice win by taking Friday's sixth stage over 180 kms from Montelimar.

    World number one Jalabert made the decisive move in the Ventoux mountain pass, halfway through the ride, when he escaped with Spaniards Santiago Blanco and Mikel Zarrabeita. Swiss Laurent Dufaux later joined them.

    Jalabert won the stage from Dufaux and Blanco to strengthen his overall lead.

    With three stages left before the race ends in Nice -- one on Saturday and two on Sunday -- Jalabert heads Dufaux by 46 seconds with Blanco another 17 seconds back.

    The day had started dramatically for the Frenchman, who fell in the morning after colliding with team mate Marcelino Garcia of Spain. But he was soon back in front.

    Press Report prior to Stage 6

    Santi Blanco will climb Mont Ventoux today. The young Banesto cyclist slept little on Wednesday night. He spent from 9:30 PM to 11:30 PM glued to the radio (at his hotel at Clermont Ferrand he could pick up RNE Spanish Radio). He suffered with each score of the Atleticos and enjoying each score of his favorite team, Barca, forgetting his own reality, how he had been part of the stage, taking of with Jalabert in a seven rider breakaway that defined the overall at Paris-Nice. It got him up to 10th in the overall - position that he's held after yesterday's stage-. And today he has to face Mont Ventoux, the mythic giant from the Tour, his first serious challenge. He knows Ventoux from the past Dauphine, when he gave all of himself for Indurain. But this will be his first job as leader for Banesto, he's 22 years old.

    "Nobody expected it", says Blanco. But he's not refering to his performance at Paris-Nice which has made him the only Spaniard with the chance to contend for the win, he was talking about his favorite soccer team, El Barca. But it could be applied to him. Blanco is the pearl, which could cause many Spanish directors to sell their soul to acquire. He started to surprise in February, not only because he had grown a couple of centimeters getting close to 1.80 meters. He was injured at the end of December while playing soccer and was barely able to train. Even then, he was the Banesto rider who got the best results in the strength tests: he reached the 600 watts. And that's not all, he has been chosen by the team for the second half of the season -he will ride his first Tour- he reached Paris-Nice only to continue know the French roads and as a helper for Armand de las Cuevas. With barely any Winter training and with less competition days on his legs (only four), he has been able to place himself with the best.

    "I have my dreams and I'm not afraid of anybody, or Ventoux with its 11 kilometers of ascent, although it is tough", he says. "But everything should work out fine. Festina will try to make the race hard and isolate Jalabert. Then only four or five of the best will reach the top of the Ventoux in front. But then there are more than 80 kms. to the finish and we need to see how we keep our distance".

    Stage 7, Saint Andri-les-Alpes - Antibes, 160.5 km:

      1. Adriano Baffi (Ita) US Postal           3.35.49
      2. Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei
      3. Gianmatteo Fagnini (Ita) Saeco
      4. Andrei Tchmil (Ukr) Lotto
      5. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina
      6. Pascal Chanteur (Fra) Casino
      7. Christophe Mengin (Fra) Francaise des Jeux 
      8. Scott Sunderland (Aus) Gan
      9. Fabrice Gougot (Fra) Casino
     10. Francisco Benmtez (Spa) Kelme
     11. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) Once           
     12. Carlo Bomans (Belgium) Mapei 
     13. Laurent Jalabert (France) Once 
     14. Max Sciandri (Britain) Francaise des Jeux 
     15. Stephane Heulot (France) Francaise des Jeux 
     16. Armand de Las Cuevas (France) Banesto  
     17. Benoait Salmon (France) Lotto 
     18. Didier Rous (France) Festina 
     19. Richard Virenque (France) Festina 
     20. Pascal Lino (France) Bigmat       	     all s.t.
     22. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) 
     23. Laurent Dufaux (Swi) 
     24. Gilles Bouvard (Fra) 
     25. Evgueni Berzin (Rus) 
     26. Axel Merckx (Bel) 
     27. Santiago Blanco (Spa) 
     34. Bruno Thibout (Fra)          	 2.26 
     43. Thierry Bourguignon (Fra)    	 4.27
     45. Miguel Arroyo (Mex)           
     52. Tony Rominger (Swi)           
     64. Tom Steels (Bel)              
     65. Pascal Derame (Fra)           
     69. Peter Meinert (Den)           
     86. Neil Stephens (Aus)            	 5.29 
     87. Joona Laukka (Fin)             	 5.34 
     88. Dominique Rault (Fra)         	10.04 
     90. Stuart O'Grady (Aus)          	10.04 
     91. Jacky Durand (Fra)            	10.04 
     92. Henk Vogels (Aus)             	10.04 
    106. Gordon Fraser (Can)           	12.04

    Overall after Stage 7

      1. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once            26.16.56
      2. Laurent Dufaux (Sch) Festina             + 0.48
      3. Santiago Blanco (Spa) Banesto            + 1.06
      4. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) Once             + 1.34
      5. Pascal Chanteur (Fra) Casino             + 2.01
      6. Didier Rous (Fra) Festina                + 2.17
      7. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina          + 2.24
      8. Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei                + 2.25
      9. Stephane Heulot (Fra) Francaise des Jeux + 2.27
     10. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal        + 2.29
     11. Salmon 					2:31 
     12. Lino                                    	2:32 
     13. De Las Cuevas                           	2:38 
     14. Virenque                                	2:39 
     15. Gougot         				2:48 
     16. Benitez                        
     17. Ermanno Brignoli (Italy) Batik         	5:06 
     18. Sunderland                              	8:50 
     19. Gilles Bouvard (France) Festina         	9:32 
     20. Axel Merckx (Belgium) Polti             	9:50
     23. Evgueni Berzin (Rus)        	12.17 
     24. Maximilian Sciandri (GB)     	12.22
     28. Christophe Mengin (Fra)       	12.47 
     29. Peter Meinert (Den)           	14.15 
     30. Pascal Derame (Fra)           	14.33 
     33. Bruno Thibout (Fra)           	15.54 
     35. Tony Rominger (Swi)           	16.48 
     36. Nicolas Jalabert (Fra)        	16.55 
     42. Miguel Arroyo (Mex)           	17.29 
     45. Joona Laukka (Fin)            	18.17 
     48. Gerard Rue (Fra)              	20.05 
     49. Thierry Bourguignon (Fra)     	20.06 
     56. Adriano Baffi (Ita)           	21.10 
     57. Andrei Tchmil (Ukr)           	21.12 
     58. Neil Stephens (Aus)           	21.22 
     59. Tom Steels (Bel)              	22.18 
     72. Frederic Moncassin (Fra)      	25.49 
    107. Henk Vogels (Aus)             	40.53 
    108. Stuart O'Grady (Aus)          	44.03 
    115. Gordon Fraser (Can)           	52.36

    Stage 7 Report

    Italian veteran Adriano Baffi relished a rare moment of glory on Saturday when he clinched the 160-km seventh stage of the Paris-Nice race eight years after his first victory in the French cycling classic.

    Baffi emerged from a massive sprint launched by world champion Johan Museeuw to offer his team US Postal their first win of the season so far.

    Belgium's Museeuw came in second and unheralded Italian Gian-Matteo Fagnini third.

    On the eve of the last stage, a 19.9-km individual time-trial from Antibes to Nice, French overall leader Laurent Jalabert spent an easy day sheltered by the pack and came in 13th.

    Switzerland's Laurent Dufaux, who tried everything to narrow the gap with Jalabert, now trails 48 second behind the Frenchman, who is on the brink of his third title in a row.

    World number one Jalabert, who won the opening time-trial in Paris last week, is favourite for Sunday's race against the clock on the seaside road leading to Nice.

    On Saturday, Dufaux's Festina team mates made several attempts to win their first stage of the race.

    Australian Neil Stephens was the first in action when he broke away in the 20th kilometre for a 120-km solitarary run before being caught by the pack.

    Baffi, 33, proved he was still a strong sprinter by beating Museeuw on the finish line.

    Stage 8a, Nice-Nice, 70 kms.

     1. Tom Steels (Belgium) Mapei 			1.39.10
     2. Fabio Baldato (Italy) MG-Technogym 
     3. Frederic Moncassin (France) GAN 
     4. Gian Matteo Fagnini (Italy) Saeco 
     5. Lauri Aus (Estonia) Casino 
     6. Rolf Jaermann (Switzerland) Casino 
     7. Jean-Jacques Henry (France) Bigmat 
     8. Jose Luis Rubiera (Sain) Kelme 
     9. Nicola Loda (Ita) MG-Technogym 
    10. Andrei Tchmil (Ukraine) Lotto 
    11. Dirk Baldinger (Germany) Polti 
    12. George Hincapie (U.S.) US Postal 
    13. Frederic Guesdon (France) Francaise des Jeux 
    14. Bruno Thibout (France) Cofidis 
    15. Nicolas Jalabert (France) Cofidis 
    16. Thierry Gouvenou (France) Bigmat 
    17. Christophe Mengin (France) Francaise des Jeux 
    18. Max Sciandri (Britain) Francaise des Jeux 
    19. Darren Baker (U.S) US Postal 
    20. Peter Farazijn (Belgium) Lotto    		all same time

    Stage 8b, Antibes-Nice, ITT, 9.9 km.

     1. Vyacheslav Ekimov (Russia) US Postal   	       22.27
     2. Yevgeny Berzin (Russia) Batik                     	0.30
     3. Steels                                            	0.37
     4. Angel Casero (Spain) Banesto                      	0.37
     5. Aus                                               	0.39
     6. Rossano Brasi (Italy) Polti                       	0.41
     7. Laurent Jalabert (France) Once                    	0.44
     8. Nico Mattan (Belgium) Mapei                       	0.44
     9. Alberto Leanizbarrutia (Spain) Once               	0.45
    10. Carlo Finco (Italy) MG-Technogym                 	0.45
    11. Enrico Cassani (Italy) Polti                     	0.45
    12. Eros Poli (Italy) GAN                            	0.46
    13. Francis Moreau (France) Cofidis                  	0.48
    14. Pascal Chanteur (France) Casino                  	0.49
    15. Marty Jemison (U.S) US Postal                    	0.52
    16. Tchmil                                           	0.53
    17. Laurent Dufaux (Switzerland) Festina             	0.56
    18. Ludovic Auger (France) Bigmat                    	0.57
    19. Didier Rous (France) Festina                     	0.59
    20. Johan Museeuw (Belgium) Mapei                  	1.02

    Final General Classification

     1. Jalabert  					    28.56.06
     2. Dufaux                               		1.00
     3. Santiago Blanco (Spain) Banesto                 	1.25
     4. Ekimov                                          	1.45
     5. Chanteur                                        	2.06
     6. Rous                                            	2.32
     7. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spain) Once                  	2.39
     8. Museeuw                                         	2.43
     9. Moreau                                          	2.51
    10. Pascal Lino (France) Bigmat                    	2.55
    11. Armand de Las Cuevas (France) Banesto          	3.02
    12. Stephane Heulot (France) Francaise des Jeux    	3.04
    13. Richard Virenque (France) Festina              	3.47
    14. Fabrice Gougot (France) Casino                 	3.53
    15. Francisco Benitez (Spain) Kelme                	3.55
    16. Benoit Salmon (France) Lotto                   	4.29
    17. Ermano Brignoli (Italy) Polti                  	5.26
    18. Gilles Bouvard (France) Festina                    10.10
    19. Scott Sunderland (Australia) GAN                   10.19
    20. Axel Merckx (Belgium) Polti                        10.35

    Final Roundup

    Frenchman Laurent Jalabert won his third straight Paris-Nice title on Sunday after an impressive showing throughout the eight-day race.

    World number one Jalabert seized the race leader's white jersey after the prologue last Sunday and kept it until the final stage, a 19.9-km time-trial from Antibes won by Russian Vyacheslav Ekimov.

    Jalabert, who had started the day 48 seconds ahead of second-placed Swiss Laurent Dufaux, let Belgian Tom Steels claim his fourth win of the week by winning a mass sprint at the end the first of Sunday's two stages, a 70-km circuit around Nice.

    In the time trial, the ONCE rider, knowing he had nothing to fear, did not give his all and was content with seventh place.

    Dufaux lost time on the leader and took 17th place in the stage to end second one minute behind Jalabert in the final overall standings. Rising Spaniard Santiago Blanco was third a further 25 seconds back.

    Jalabert underlined his domination in the race by winning Friday's crucial stage, a gruelling 182-km ride from Montlimar to Sisteron featuring the Ventoux mountain pass.

    ``I had no pressure because I didn't expect anything coming here but it's good to see that I'm already in good shape, said Jalabert, now looking forward to the first major classic of the season, Saturday's Milan-San Remo. Jalabert won the opening World Cup race in 1995.

    Frenchman Laurent Jalabert rode to his first major win this season with a third consecutive Paris-Nice title on Sunday and predicted more successes would follow.

    World number one Jalabert was impressive troughout the eight-day event, seizing the race leader's white jersey after last Sunday's prologue and keeping it until the final time-trial.

    ``I'm reassured on my physical condition,'' said Jalabert, who saw health problems spoil his 1996 season.

    ``Coming here, I didn't know what to expect but I felt really good. Now I know that my winter preparation was fine.''

    Jalabert won two stages, the prologue and a crucial ride on Friday featuring the Ventoux mountain pass.

    ``That's good for my confidence,'' he said. ``The fact that I was able to win two stages suggests I will win more races this season.''

    Jalabert now looks forward to the season's first major classic, Milan-San Remo starting next Saturday. He won it in 1995 and went on to enjoy a successful season.

    ``Milan-San Remo is not the most exciting of races but it's the first important race of the season and to win it is usually a good sign for what follows,'' he said.

    ``Anyway, I would like to win a classic this year, that one or another one.''