If Tony Rominger chooses to ride the race -- a possibility -- Mapei will join the teams listed below.
The Grand Prix du Midi Libre began today (May 21) with a 172.5km stage from Agde (north of Narbonne on the Mediterranean coast) south to Millas. The winner was Frederic Moncassin (Fr, GAN) who beat Andrei Tchmil (Rus, Lotto) and Max Van Heeswijk (Neth, Motorola).
A strong field has been assembled, including Laurent Jalabert, back from a lay-off of five weeks since the Tour of Aragon. Jalabert and his brother Nicolas, also riding, can expect a warm welcome when the race finishes in their home town, Mazamet, on Stage 2 and starts there on Stage 3. A notable absentee is last year's winner, Miguel Indurain, who has chosen to ride the Bicicleta Vasca in the Basque Country of Spain (May 22-26)
FESTINA: Virenque, Dufaux, Brochard, Magnien, Goubert, Bassons, Tebaldi, C. Moreau ONCE: L. Jalabert, Diaz-Zabala, Garmendia, Mauri, Rojas GAN: Boardman, Lemarchand, Moncassin, F. Moreau, Rous, Seigneur, Simon, Vasseur ROSLOTTO-ZG: Fondriest, Chiurato COLLSTROP: P. De Clercq, Bouvard, Medan, Salmon PETIT CASINO-C'EST VOTRE EQUIPE: De Las Cuevas, Agnolutto, Bessy, Bordenave, Chanteur, Gougot, Kasputis, Aubier MOTOROLA: Sciandri, Montoya, Thibout, Vanzella AGRIGEL-LA CREUSE: Laurent, Bourgeot, Bernard, Colotti, T. Marie, D. Marie, Masdupuy, Conan TVM: Den Bakker, Hamburger, Hoffman, Nijdam, Skibby (I thought he was riding the Giro!) AUBERVILLIERS 93-PEUGEOT: Genty, Gouvenou, Lesniewski, Pontier, Ravaleu, Saugrain, Talmant, Teyssier TELEKOM: Riis, Aldag, Bolts, Heppner, Ulrich LA MUTUELLE DE SEINE-ET-MARNE: N. Jalabert, Pillon, Pilon, Anti, Chauviere, Gabriel, Lamour, Laurance, Maignan FORCESUD: Arroyo, Bourguignon, Arnould, Lance, Jan, Rinero, Capelle, Morin LOTTO: Kozlitine, Tchmil, Wauters IDEAL: Citracca PMU-ROMAND: Meier
May 21: Agde--Millas (172.5km) May 22 Millas--Mazamet (171.5km) May 23 Mazamet-Severac-le-Chateau (180km) May 24 Marvejols--Marvejols (155km) May 25 Severac-le-Chateau--Sete mont Clair (two climbs of mont Saint-Clair, the second being the summit finish) (212km) 26 May Sete-L'Esperou
1. Frederic Moncassin (Fr, GAN) 172.5km in 4.25.15 2. Andrei Tchmil (Rus, Lotto) 3. Max Van Heeswijk (Neth, Motorola) 4. Rolf Aldag (Ger, Telekom) 5. Nicolas Jalabert (Fr, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne) 6. Kaspars Ozers (Lat, Motorola) 7. Gilles Maignan (Fr, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne) 8. Laurent Jalabert (Fr, ONCE) 9. Laurent Brochard (Fr, Festina) 10. Christophe Capelle (Fr, Force Sud) 11. E De Clercq (Bel, Collstrop) 12. Thierry Marie (Fr, Agrigel-La Creuse) 13. Francois Simon (Fr, GAN) 14. Lamour (Fr, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne) 15. Maurizio Fondriest (It, Roslotto-ZG Mobili) 16. Bart Voskamp (Neth, TVM) 17. Saugrain (Fr, Aubervilliers 93-Peugeot) 18. Huser (Swi, PMU-Romand) 19. Passarin (It, Ideal) 20. Jelle Nijdam (Neth, TVM) ...... 24. Chris Boardman (GB, GAN) 25. Bjarne Riis (Den, Telekom) 26. Richard Virenque (Fr, Festina) all s.t. as Moncassin (121 starters, 120 finishers) (d.n.s. Jean-Francois Bernard; abandon Pascal Lance) (Intermediate bonifs: Saugrain 3 secs, Pontier 3 secs, L. Jalabert 2 secs, Trenti 2 secs, Simon 1 sec, Bessy 1 sec) Stage finish bonifs: 1. Moncassin 10 secs 2. Tchmil 6 secs 3. Van Heeswijk 4 secs
1. Moncassin 2. Tchmil +0.04 secs 3. Van Heeswijk +0.06 4. Saugrain +0.07 5. L. Jalabert +0.08 6. Simon +0.09 7. Aldag +0.10 8. N. Jalabert s.t. 9. Ozers s.t. 10. Maignan s.t.
Stage 1 ReportGAN's run of successes continued because of the work the team put in chasing down a three-man break that held out for almost two hours and was only caught 15km from the line. The breakaways were Frederic Pontier (Aubervilliers 93-Peugeot) -- who'd been involved in a similar enterprise in a stage of Paris--Nice, Frederic Bessy (Petit Casino) and Guido Trenti an Italian in the new (only one week old) Swiss team Ideal.
GAN directeur-sportif Roger Legeay explained that some chasing work might have been expected from ONCE but wasn't forthcoming, and GAN got down to it quickly because a tail-wind would otherwise have given the break too much of an advantage. At the finish, said Moncassin: "Francis Moreau rode very hard for 800m. Then Chris Boardman attacked. You could see that he was going to the limit to assure the few precious seconds of bonification that will count when it comes to the final overall.
But Laurent Jalabert came back to him. Francis Simon was blocked and I was launched at 200m in a big gear (53x11) knowing that the finishing straight was downhill and there was a light side wind. To protect myself as much as possible, I launched myself on the right, up against the barriers, where there was most shelter." Three Festina riders crashed on the last bend: Emmanuel Magnien, Christophe Moreau and Valerio Tebaldi.
GP du Midi Libre, Stage 2, Millas--Mazamet, May 221. Laurent Jalabert (Fr, ONCE) 167km in 4.08.20 2. Richard Virenque (Fr, Festina) 3. Yuri Surkov (Rus, Roslotto-ZG Mobili) 4. Chris Boardman (GB, GAN) 5. Patrick Jonker (Australia, ONCE) 6. Laurent Brochard (Fr, Festina) 7. Scott Sunderland (Australia, Lotto) 8. Pascal Chanteur (Fr, Petit Casino-C'est votre equipe) 9. Francis Moreau (Fr, GAN) 10. Laurent Dufaux (Swi, Festina) 11. Bo Hamburger (Den, TVM) 12. Francois Lemarchand (Fr, GAN) 13. Christophe Moreau (Fr, Festina) 14. Gilles Bouvard (Fr, Collstrop) all s.t. 15. Francisque Teyssier (Fr, Aubervilliers 93-Peugeot) +0.04 secs 16. Poser (It, Ideal) 17. Mariano Rojas (Sp, ONCE) 18. Melchor Mauri (Sp, ONCE) 19. Gontchar (Ukr, Ideal) 20. Jens Heppner (Ger, Telekom) all s.t. also 22. Bjarne Riis (Den, Telekom) s.t. 23. Thierry Laurent (Fr, Agrigel-La Creuse) s.t. 24. Armand De Las Cuevas (Fr, Petit Casino-C'est votre eq) +1.00 ..... 26. Frederic Moncassin +2.40 ... 92. Maurizio Fondriest (It, Roslotto-ZG Mobili) +12.07 (120 starters, 120 finishers) Intermediate bonifications: Thi. Marie 3 secs; Saugrain 3, L. Jalabert 2, Fleischer 2, Simon 2
GC after Stage 2 - (including bonifications)1. Jalabert 8.33.21 2. Virenque +0.08 3. Surkov +0.10 4. Brochard +0.14 5. Boardman 6. Joncker 7. Chanteur 8. Moreau 9. Dufaux 10. Bo Hamburger (Den, TVM) all s.t.
Stage 2 ReportToday's stage took the race through Jalabert's training grounds in the Montagne Noire. including the 1st cat col de la Prade, 28km before the finish in Jalabert's home town, Mazamet.
When the race reached the foot of the Col de la Prade, the peloton was together and Laurent Jalabert decided it was time the pace was picked up. He got ONCE rolling, and with this lead-out, by the lower slopes of the climb Jalabert had shaken off all but team-mate Patrick Jonker, Richard Virenque, Laurent Brochard, Laurent Dufaux, Chris Boardman, Jens Heppner, Poser and Surkov. Further up, it was down to Jalabert, Virenque, Brochard, Boardman, Jonker and Surkov. At the summit, 25km from the finish, after a diversionary attack by Jonker chased down by Boardman, the leaders were 15 secs ahead of the front of the peloton which came up to them on the descent to Mazamet. The rest of the peloton aught up just before the line. At the kilometre to go banner, Brochard attacked followed shortly by an attack from Boardman but without success.
Earlier in the day, Thierry Marie had been out on a 100km break with Thomas Fleischer. And atlast Armand De Las Cuevas is showing some form, having often abandoned so far this season or finished way off the pace. Today he was only 1 minute behind Jalabert.
Stage 3, Mazamet--Severac-le-Chateau, May 231. Frederic Moncassin (Fr, GAN) 180km in 4 .44.48 2. Max Van Heeswijk (Neth, Motorola) 3. Andrei Tchmil (Ukr, Lotto) 4. Kaspars Ozers (Lat, Motorola) 5. Rolf Aldag (Ger, Telekom) 6. Christophe Capelle (Fr, ForceSud) 7. Laurent Brochard (Fr, Festina) 8. Guido Trenti (USA, Ideal) 9. Laurent Jalabert (Fr, ONCE) 10. Claude Lamour (Fr, La Mutuelle de Seine et Marne) all s.t.
Overall1. N. Jalabert 13.18.06 2. Richard Virenque (Fr, Festina +10 secs 3. Yuri Surkov (Rus, Roslotto-ZG Mobili) +13 4. Brochard +17 5. Chris Boardman (GB, GAN) 6. Patrick Joncker (Aus, ONCE) 7. Francis Moreau (Fr, GAN) 8. Pascal Chanteur (Fr, Petit Casino-C'est votre equipe) 9. Laurent Dufaux (Swi, Festina) 10. Bo Hamburger (Den, TVM) all s.t.