98th Paris-Tours - CDM
France, October 10, 2004
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Chris Henry
Complete live report
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish time: 16:45 CEST
14:26 CEST 152km/100.5km to go
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 98th edition of Paris-Tours, the
ninth round of what is probably the last World Cup series. Today's classic starts
in Saint-Arnoult en Yvelines (southwest of Paris) and heads in a southwesterly
direction to Tours, finishing on the Avenue de Grammont after 252.5 km. The
race actually loops round at the end and the riders approach Tours from the
south. The course is fairly flat, but there are enough climbs in the finale
to launch attacks.
Quinziato leads Gussev, Tankink and Dekker
At the start this morning, the temperatures were fairly cool - around 12 degrees
- and it was foggy and damp. However, during the course of the day the skies have
cleared somewhat and it's almost sunny at the finish, with temps up around 18
degrees. There is a moderate northeasterly wind, which will be behind the riders
Photo ©: Chris Henry/CN
After 25 km of racing, a group of four riders managed to escape what was a larger
breakaway of 17: Erik Dekker (Rabobank), Bram Tankink (Quick.Step-Davitamon),
Vladimir Gussev (CSC), Manuel Quinziato (Lampre). Eric Berthou (RAGT) attacked
in pursuit and finally made it across to the leaders at km 71. The break had a
lead of 7'30 at this point, down from a maximum of 8 minutes.
The Cofidis (O'Grady) and FDJeux.com (Cooke) teams have been controlling the chase
and have reduced the gap to 4'40 with 105 km to go.
At the 138 km mark there was a crash in the peloton, bringing down some 30 riders
including World Champion and pre-race favourite Oscar Freire (Rabobank). Freire
was able to remount and made it back to the peloton.
14:44 CEST 163km/89.5km to go
The peloton is slowly pulling back the five man break (Dekker, Tankink, Gussev,
Quinziato, Berthou) and has pegged the gap to 4'25 with 90 km to go.
Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) was caught up in the crash earlier and had some mechanical
problems, but was brought back to the peloton by his teammates.
14:56 CEST 172km/80.5km to go
Oscar Freire in his fave jersey
Cofidis is continuing to work at the front of the peloton, setting a high tempo.
Stuart O'Grady (3rd last year) is Cofidis' top man today, as they even have Jimmy
Casper working in front. As was the case last year, the tailwind has resulted
in a fast pace all day. Nearly 49 km were covered in the first hour and the race
is currently 20 minutes ahead of the fastest schedule of 42 km/h.
Photo ©: Chris Henry/CN
15:05 CEST 178km/74.5km to go
The chase has brought the break back to 4'00 now with 75 km to go. There's more
than enough time left to bring back these five leaders, who have been away since
Stuart O'Grady was a bit uncertain about his chances when Cyclingnews' Chris
Henry spoke to him this morning. "It's going to be pretty hard to control
without Fassa and T-Mobile working for the sprint, but I think Quick.Step and
a few other teams will try to hold it together for the finish. I'm hoping to
go out with bang, but I don't know how much I've get left in the tank!"
15:18 CEST 188km/64.5km to go
The Cofidis team is still riding on the front, with Matt White at the head of
Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) is another favourite for today, as long as it finishes
in a bunch sprint. "I'm feeling better than I was in the middle of the season.
I had a sciatic nerve problem, but no worries, I think it's all but
fixed. I don't know if I've got the form for today but I've been doing
the training and doing everything right.
"I don't think it will be a sprint, I think there may be a breakaway because
there aren't that many teams to ride. I'll be waiting behind, hoping my teammates
get in the breakaways, and if it is a sprint I think I've got a good a chance
15:20 CEST 192km/60.5km to go
Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step) has been involved in a crash along with teammate Davide
Bramati and Geoffroy Lequatre (Credit Agricole). They're not too seriously hurt.
The peloton is now 3'30 behind the five leaders.
15:22 CEST 194.5km/58km to go
Max van Heeswijk (USPS) is chasing back on after a puncture or a crash. It's
not easy at this speed. Bramati has made it back.
15:24 CEST 196km/56.5km to go
American Chris Horner was sporting a nice new Saunier Duval jersey when we spoke
to him this morning. He has a contract to ride the remainder of the season with
the Spanish team, before he begins his main job with them next year.
Photo ©: Chris Henry/CN
"[At the World Championships] I was having some problems with the cramps and the
legs, but the rest of me felt fantastic, so I think if I can get this race in
here I should be pretty good by the time we get to Lombardia. First the objective
was to go to San Francisco and have a great race for Webcor to finish the season,
then to focus 100% for the World Championships. I was going to shut the season
down unless I got on the team. Once I got on the team... I've been training hard!
I've done 600 miles this week between the World Championships and here. Yeah,
15:25 CEST 197km/55.5km to go
Eric Berthou (RAGT) has been dropped by the break, now paying for his 55 km
solo bridging effort earlier. That leaves Erik Dekker (Rabobank), Bram Tankink
(Quick.Step-Davitamon), Vladimir Gussev (CSC) and Manuel Quinziato (Lampre)
in front with 2'50 to the peloton.
15:35 CEST 202km/50.5km to go
The four leaders have now just 2'30 on the peloton. Berthou actually punctured
out of the break and is 30 seconds behind them.
Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros) was in agreement with Baden Cooke, telling us
this morning, "I also think there will be a breakaway. It's going to be hard,
and in the last six years I think five times there's been a breakaway, so the
odds are in favour of a break. We're just going to see how it goes and set
our tactics as it unfolds. If you make a tactic now, for sure the opposite happens."
15:41 CEST 207.5km/45km to go
Berthou has been caught by the peloton, while the leaders still have 2'28. They're
working hard to try to hold the bunch off. It's going to be hard though, especially
with the headwind at the end.
The peloton is led by Cofidis, as usual. Some FDJeux.com riders are also lending
a hand, as well as Gerolsteiner (for Hondo and Rebellin).
15:44 CEST 212.5km/40km to go
Casper has punctured and is now chasing back on through the caravan. He takes
a bidon from his team car.
Cofidis and FDJeux.com drive the peloton through Azay-sur-Cher, 2'15 behind
the leaders. Matt White is in second wheel.
15:49 CEST 214.5km/38km to go
Casper inches his way back through the caravan to the back of the peloton at
last. That hurt. He joins the Ag2r team at the back of the bunch.
15:51 CEST 217.5km/35km to go
Erik Dekker is the most experienced rider in the break, and is keeping them
all in line. Tankink looks strong as well. They have around 35 km to go now.
15:55 CEST 220.5km/32km to go
The gap has dropped to under 2 minutes now and Cofidis is largely responsible
for the chase. A couple of FDJeux.com and Liberty riders are also helping out.
In the absence of Petacchi and Zabel, most of the favourites today are Aussies
(O'Grady, Cooke, Davis). But World Champ Freire is the man in form, and someone
like Jaan Kirsipuu can't be underestimated.
Casper is back at the front - his job isn't over today.
16:02 CEST 222.5km/30km to go
Dekker takes over the lead in the break and drives up a climb, gapping Tankink
and Quinziato. Only Gussev can hold the Dutchman's wheel. The other two are
The peloton is just 1'20 behind though.
16:04 CEST 225.5km/27km to go
On the same climb, Stijn Devolder (USPS) attacks and gets a small gap. But Markus
Zberg is on his wheel, then the Fassa team. Rogers is in sixth wheel ahead of
Bettini and Rebellin. Cofidis has dropped back.
"We want a sprint!" Rogers told Cyclingnews this morning. "We're going
to work for that. It should be a hard race to control. We want to keep it together
for Bettini, but I think a couple other teams will want a sprint as well."
16:05 CEST 227.5km/25km to go
Dekker and Gussev are powering away now, trying to hold off the peloton into
Tours. It's a big ask with a gap of 1'10.
16:07 CEST 229.5km/23km to go
Cofidis has almost completely disappeared from the front of the peloton, having
been there for most of the day. Now it's Liberty, FDJ and Fassa Bortolo (for
Trenti/Velo or maybe Flecha). Chris Horner is in about 10th wheel - very easy
Tankink and Quinziato are caught.
16:11 CEST 233.5km/19km to go
Quick.Step's Kevin Hulsmans takes over from Nozal (Liberty) and Vogondy (FDJ)
in front. The peloton is 1'00 behind the two leaders Dekker and Gussev with
just under 20 km to go.
Unai Osa (Illes Balears) has crashed.
16:14 CEST 236.5km/16km to go
Quick.Step's Hulsmans and Cretskens are doing the necessary damage to the lead
of Dekker and Gussev, who are now 50 seconds ahead of the peloton.
16:17 CEST 238.5km/14km to go
There's been another crash, but this time it's a moto rider who has gone down
on a corner. The peloton splits as it rides around the fallen bike. The driver
is ok, just crossing his fingers that no-one hits the bike.
Dekker is definitely the strongest in the break.
Tafi (Alessio) does a turn in the peloton. He won this race in 2000. The gap
is 42 seconds.
16:19 CEST 239.5km/13km to go
Dekker and Gussev see the neutral cars and motorbikes coming past as they hit
an open part of the course. Hulsmans is back on the front of the peloton, which
is in one long line.
16:21 CEST 241km/11.5km to go
Dekker is having a good day today, and is giving it full gas on the small roads
on the outskirts of Tours. The bunch is always getting closer, now 35 seconds
with 11.5 km to go.
16:23 CEST 243.5km/9km to go
Tafi gets to the front and does another big turn, then World TT Champion Mick
Rogers. The peloton is very strung out, with mainly Quick.Step doing the work.
Fassa Bortolo is lurking in the second rank.
Dekker still looks good - Gussev is having problems doing a turn.
16:24 CEST 244.5km/8km to go
Fabio Sacchi (Fassa) takes over from Rogers and the gap is now 26 seconds. 23
seconds. The break will be caught, but not without a hell of a fight.
16:25 CEST 245.5km/7km to go
Gussev looks back and can see the peloton coming as Dekker drops him on a climb.
The Russian has exploded and rejoins the peloton.
There's a crash in the peloton! Right near the front. It looks like Bettini
Dekker is caught by a counter attack from a Lampre rider.
16:27 CEST 246.5km/6km to go
Dekker is now with Mattias Kessler, Allan Davis, Juan Antonio Flecha and Igor
Astarloa. This is an interesting break with 6 km to go!
16:28 CEST 247.5km/5km to go
It was Paolini who crashed, not Bettini. It did cause a break in the peloton
and now we have Dekker (Rabobank), Kessler (T-Mobile), Davis (Liberty), Flecha
(Fassa) and Astarloa (Lampre) with 8 seconds lead.
Flecha drives the pace on the Côte du Pont Volant, with Davis and Astarloa on
his wheel. Dekker is struggling, but hanging in there.
16:30 CEST 248.5km/4km to go
Dekker is still there as the break hits the last climb, the Côte du Petit Pas
d'Ane. Kessler attacks hard, but can't get a gap. Flecha is now off the back
by about 5m, but regains the break.
The pace slows at the top as they all look at each other. Two riders are chasing
- Mazzoleni and Moreni.
Dekker attacks! Kessler reacts and closes the gap, but hurts....
16:32 CEST 249.5km/3km to go
Dekker and Kessler are now together as the other three in the break hang at
5 seconds. But the peloton is now getting organised. This will be a close finish.
16:33 CEST 250km/2.5km to go
It's now Dekker leading Kessler, with Davis (Liberty), Flecha (Fassa), Astarloa
(Lampre), Moreni (Alessio), Mazzoleni (Saeco) at 10 seconds. Then the peloton
at 17 seconds. What a finish!
16:34 CEST 251.5km/1km to go
A couple of Phonak riders are leading the peloton but there's a Rabobank rider
in third wheel - he won't do a turn of course.
Kessler finally takes over from Dekker with 1 km to go.
Erik Dekker takes over with 900m to go, he has to work as the peloton is coming
16:35 CEST 252.5km/0km to go
Kessler and Dekker are holding off the peloton as the sprint is led out by De
Jongh (why? maybe it wasn't a full lead out...). Then Dekker goes from Kessler's
wheel and wins!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hondo second, then it looked like Oscar Freire was
third ahead of Davis. Bettini took 6th, which means he takes the World Cup jersey
as Rebellin was out of the top 10.
What a remarkable ride by Erik Dekker, who was in the break for 227 of the
252 km. He could have given up when the four riders caught him with 5 km to
go, but he held his own and countered with Kessler at the right moment.
1 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 5.33.03
2 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner
3 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
4 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros
5 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis
6 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon
7 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile
8 Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak
9 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2r
10 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco
World Cup standings after round 9
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon
2 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
the commentary team