100th Paris-Tours - ProT
France, October 8, 2006
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones and Gregor Brown
Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST
Welcome to French airspace for our
Hindenburg V-1 powered live coverage of the 100th edition of Paris-Tours. At
254 km long on not-so-hilly terrain, this race is considered a sprinters' classic,
but sometimes the fast men get left behind in the crosswinds.
riders started at 11:16, with the first attack coming from Juan Jose Cobo Acebo
(Saunier Duval) , Lars Michaelsen (CSC), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner), Olaf
Pollack (T-Mobile), Enrico Franzoi (Lampre) and Maarten Tjallingii (Skil). They
were caught after 10 km, as another group of six countered: Kurt-Asle Arvesen
(CSC), Frederic Finot (Française des Jeux), Stephane Poulhies (AG2R), Sebastien
Siedler (Milram), Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank) and Steven de Jongh (Quick Step).
This group was joined by another 16, but it all came back together after 20
The critical escape of the day went at km 33, with 28(!) riders
breaking clear: Kasper Klostergaard, Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC), Frederic Guesdon
and Frederic Finot (FDJ), Kevin van Impe and Steven De Jongh (Quick.Step), Frederic
Amorison (Landbouwkrediet), Graeme Brown, Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank), Stephane
Poulhies (AG2R), Tyler Farrar and Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), Sebastien Siedler
(Milram), Enrico Franzoi, Danilo Napolitano (Lampre), Maarten Tjallingii and
Christoph Meschenmoser (Skil), Enrico Gasparotto, Mauro Da Dalto and Luca Paolini
(Liquigas), Jan Kuyckx (Davitamon), David Vitoria (Phonak), Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner),
Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel), Carlos Abellán, Koen
De Kort (Astana) and Vladimir Gusev (Discovery). Gusev was dropped after the
leaders covered 46.8 km in the first hour, with the main bunch already 2'20
That prompted Discovery Channel to start chasing, but after
the second hour was raced at 49.3 km/h, the gap did not come down. A group of
40 split off from the rest of the peloton in pursuit of the 27. In this chase
group were O'Grady (CSC), Gilbert (Française des Jeux), Pozzato (Quick.STep)
and Hushovd and Kirsipuu (Credit Agricole), Devolder (Discovery), Ballan and
Bennati (Lampre), and Cooke (Unibet.com). Defending champion Erik Zabel and
Tom Boonen both missed the split, and look to be out of the race now.
The situation after 140 km: The 27 leaders have 4'30 on the chase group of 40,
with the Boonen/Zabel peloton at 11'30.
14:55 CEST 160km/94.5km to go
The high pace is
taking its toll, with Mauro Da Dalto being dropped from the leading group and
Philippe (Française des Jeux) and a few others dropped from the chasing group.
The gap between group 1 and group 2 has come down to 2'45. We can forget about
Boonen and Zabel today.
15:05 CEST 173km/81.5km to go
The chase group
is now just 32 riders strong, but is getting closer to the leaders. 1'35 is
the latest time check. O'Grady, Hushovd and Pozzato are all in it. Up front,
Paolini, Brown, Arvesen, De Jongh, Napolitano, Wrolich and Isasi are the best
sprinters on paper.
15:09 CEST 175km/79.5km to go
The chasing group
has grown back to 45 again as the dozen who were dropped, including Philippe
Gilbert, have caught back on, and Mauro da Dalto has also been swallowed. They
are still 1'35 behind the 26 up front.
15:21 CEST 182km/72.5km to go
The main part of
the peloton with Boonen and Zabel in it (remember?) has quit en masse at the
feed zone. That means less than half of the starters are left in the race! Such
is the nature of this classic.
15:43 CEST 200km/54.5km to go
The first attacks
are happening in the lead group, as Carlos Abellán breaks clear with Jan Kuyckx.
The big chasing group still hasn't
made any inroads into the leaders. 1'35 can be a hard gap to close...
The lead group is breaking up, with
Guesdon and Moreni the next to attack.
15:51 CEST 209.5km/45km to go
Moreni and Guesdon
have shattered the front group. Paolini is chasing with Van Impe and Finot,
then Van Impe goes across by himself. Then a group of five and then another
group of five.
The average speed is still up around
the 46 km/h mark as Van Impe catches the front two.
15:54 CEST 212.5km/42km to go
The first group
behind Van Impe, Moreni and Guesdon consists of Danilo Napolitano (Lampre),
Enrico Gasparotto and Luca Paolini (Liquigas), Frederic Finot (FDJ), Kurt-Asle
Arvesen (CSC), Sebastien Siedler (Milram).
The chase group of 45
is now at 2'46, and doesn't look to be coming back.
15:57 CEST 214.5km/40km to go
The first chase
group grows to Danilo Napolitano (Lampre), Enrico Gasparotto and Luca Paolini
(Liquigas), Frederic Finot (FDJ), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC), Sebastien Siedler
(Milram), Frederic Amorison (Landbouwkrediet), Carlos Abellán (Astana), Jan
Kuyckx (Davitamon), Maarten Tjallingii (Skil),Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel), and ?
But now, Gasparotto and Arvesen are going across to the
three leaders. They make it.
15:59 CEST 215.5km/39km to go
The Rabobank rider
in the first chase group is Graeme Brown. they're 20 seconds behind the leaders
as Isasi tries to keep the pace up. No-one wants to work though.
The five leaders work well together,
as the chasers also start to cooperate. With Gasparotto and Moreni in front,
we have two former Italian champions.
The 'peloton' is being driven
by Lampre, Bouygues and Discovery, but still sits 2'20 behind the five leaders.
16:08 CEST 221.5km/33km to go
The leaders continue
to work well, and are approaching the 30 km to go mark. The first chasers haven't
given up though, and still have a chance of coming back. Moreni gets a couple
of bidons from the Cofidis team car.
16:10 CEST 223.5km/31km to go
Amorison does a
turn in the chase group, then Isasi, Tjallingii and Napolitano. They are 40
seconds back, with the peloton at 2'04.
16:13 CEST 227.5km/27km to go
Now it's Gasparotto's
turn for a bidon from the car. He gets one and slots in behind Moreni at the
back of the five man chain. Then Fred Guesdon grabs a bidon from his car. Can
he win another classic after his Paris-Roubaix win in 1997?
group on the road, with Horrillo, has been caught by the peloton, which is 1'49
behind the five leaders. This could be a close finish.
16:14 CEST 228.5km/26km to go
The leaders hit
the Côte de Crochu and the cooperation doesn't look as good, but it's ok. Guesdon
sits last wheel, behind Gasparotto. Moreni looks good, as do Arvesen and Van
Impe. The first chasers are at 38 seconds.
16:16 CEST 229.5km/25km to go
The peloton hammers
up the climb led by Gusev (Discovery) and Voeckler (Bouygues). 1'42 is the gap.
16:18 CEST 230.5km/24km to go
The first chasers
can't get closer to the five leaders: still 40 seconds. But the peloton looks
to be hauling them all in, and has got the gap back to 1'20. Voeckler is really
hammering on the front of bunch - 1'10 now.
16:20 CEST 232.5km/22km to go
The leaders ride
through some more open areas that have been dug up. But now they are in a more
scenic forest. Moreni keeps the pace high on the front.
chase group will be caught soon.
16:21 CEST 233.5km/21km to go
the chase group, which is being pulled back by the front bit of the peloton.
16:23 CEST 234.5km/20km to go
Tjallingii is leading
the peloton by about 20 metres, but is now being caught. Brown sits last wheel
in the bunch, behind Putsep.
O'Grady attacks with one of the Bouygues
riders, but it doesn't look like a big attack. This is despite having Arvesen
16:23 CEST 235.5km/19km to go
There are now just
two groups on the road: Frederic Guesdon (FDJ), Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), Kevin
van Impe (Quick.Step), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC), Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas)
and the peloton. No more than 30 seconds separates the two groups.
The peloton isn't that big - maybe
30 riders strong - as Frank Høj (Gerolsteiner) does a turn. 40 seconds...
16:26 CEST 236.5km/18km to go
Ballan are chasing for their sprinter Bennati (well, Napolitano can sprint too).
O'Grady is in third wheel, then Jaan Kirsipuu, who is in his last race. Nick
Nuyens (Quick.Step) is last wheel in the peloton.
16:27 CEST 237.5km/17km to go
Kevin Van Impe
has broken a spoke in his back wheel. This could cost him his place in the break...
16:29 CEST 239.5km/15km to go
to set tempo in front with Kirsipuu. Meanwhile, Napolitano is getting dropped.
Van Impe hangs onto the break, despite his back wheel threatening to collapse...
He's now dropped as Guesdon attacks.
Van Impe anxiously looks back for
his car, but it's not there. He will not rejoin the front.
16:31 CEST 240.5km/14km to go
man is now caught by the bunch, because there were no team cars allowed in between
the break and the bunch. He's not happy. He finally gets a change.
Napolitano is back at the front, working with Ballan now.
16:32 CEST 241.5km/13km to go
The gap has come
back to 14 seconds, so Van Impe will probably feel better about that. Lampre
is pulling the four leaders back, thanks to Napolitano and Ballan.
Lampre continue to lead the peloton.
Napolitano on the front.
16:35 CEST 243.5km/11km to go
The four are doing
equal pulls, but it looks grim. With three little climbs to come.
The first of the three climbs is
the Côte de l'Epan at 8 km to go.
16:36 CEST 244.5km/10km to go
You'll want to
remember the l'Avenue de Grammont is nearly 3 Km in length. Tree-lined and dead-flat.
16:37 CEST 245.5km/9km to go
Peloton around 35
riders. Lampre still revving the engines for Benna. Daniele Bennati finished
2nd last year behind Zabel in the sprint.
Arvesen gets rid of a bidon as they
take a right hander off the main road and hit the climb.
Frederic Guesdon is leading up this
The final 2 cotes are: Côte du Pont
Volant and Côte du Petit Pas d'Ane, coming at 5.5 and 4 km to go.
16:40 CEST 247.5km/7km to go
(FDJ) as a small gap with Arvesen chasing.
Heading into Tours, a Univ. town,
these are really some small and scenic roads. Great for a Sunday ride (or race)
Moreni gets caught, while the FDJ
and CSC riders join forces to try to stay clear.
16:42 CEST 249.5km/5km to go
The duo start the
Côte du Pont Volant
Pippo Pozzato gives a dig off the
Guesdon and Arvesen have a small
gap. It look impossible, but in the shadows perhaps the peloton will misjudge
the time gap.
Pozzato gets Gilbert, Sacchi and
Cooke and one other for company, and Gilbert signals for Cooke to work. Gilbert's
not going to, because Guesdon is in front.
16:44 CEST 250.5km/4km to go
The Côte du Petit
Pas d'Ane starts.
16:45 CEST 251km/3.5km to go
The chasers are
caught by the peloton, but the two leaders are still 11 seconds to the better
with less than 4 km to go. Nuyens attacks...
Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom)
was almost in that chase group, but took the long way around a round-about and
16:46 CEST 251.5km/3km to go
Markov and Nuyens
are chasing Guesdon and Arvesen, who are on the very long finishing straight.
16:46 CEST 251.5km/3km to go
The duo hit the
famed avenue de Grammont
Complete straight from here on.
16:46 CEST 252.5km/2km to go
The barriers have
16:47 CEST 252.5km/2km to go
Nuyens and Markov
are caught by Napolitano, who doesn't want to work yet. 15 seconds with 2 km
to go. Arvesen checks back.
16:47 CEST 253.5km/1km to go
Arvesen and Guesdon
come under 1 km to go...
Arvesen leads with 800m to go, Guesdon
sitting on. They slow... danger.
500m to go, Arvesen looks back at
the French rider.
They switch back and forth across
the road. The peloton doesn't look like getting them. Guesdon leads out...
16:49 CEST 254.5km/0km to go
And it's Guesdon
who wins it!!!! Arvesen second, then O'Grady third ahead of Hushovd.
Another nail biting finish. Two riders
survived in front from that early break of 27, and it was Frederic Guesdon who
played his cards perfectly until the end. Arvesen did hit out at 200m to go,
but Guesdon was too good. His second classic win after Paris-Roubaix 1997. His
career begins anew :-)
Thanks for following this 100th edition
of Paris-Tours with us. It was another thriller, with Arvesen and Guesdon doing
the seemingly impossible (a la Virenque and Durand a few years ago) and pulling
off the win. Great finale, and that final kilometre was touch and go, but the
two leaders had eight seconds to spare at the end.
One more to go
this season: Giro di Lombardia next Saturday. Until then!
1 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française des Jeux 5.31.11
2 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC
3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC 0.08
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
5 Alexandre Usov (Blr) AG2R Prévoyance
6 Baden Cooke (Aus) Unibet.com
7 Frank Hoj (Den) Gerolsteiner
8 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
9 Tom Steels (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
10 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quickstep-Innergetic