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Paris-Nice 2008 has started: Thor Hushovd wins the prologue

Added: sunday 09 March 2008 at 23:13:00
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    Paris-Nice 2008 has started: Thor Hushovd wins the prologueToday it was finally back to serious business and interesting things in cycling with the Paris-Nice 2008 prologue in Amilly. Interesting things because sports finally took over again after a week during which cycling could be resumed in three words: A.S.O. versus UCI.

    While the sun seems to start shining back on cycling the race to the sun today started with a more grey weather ... the riders clearly didn't like the bad weather and probably only want one thing: really find the sun when arriving in Nice!


    Amilly, a town just south of Montargis in the Loiret, today was the center of cycling with the 4.6 kilometer prologue.

    The first rider, the French Thierry Hupond of the Skil-Shimano team, and some other riders who started early finished their prologue without rain and on a dry road. Quite quickly after the start, some rain came falling down and there was a cold and mean wind. Since the road had become wet the time trial specialist had a difficult time in proving this is their specialty since they didn't want to take a risk. The weather conditions thus heavily influenced the final ranking for this prologue.

    Thor Hushovd at the start of his prologueTherefore, it wasn't really a surprise that the Spanish rider Markel Irizar of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team kept the fastest time for a long time with his 5 minutes 32 seconds. Despite the fact that the road started drying during the last half an hour, it was only at the rider who started 154th (of 160) who could beat his time. Only the Norvegian Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) could go under Irizar's time and was the only rider with an average speed over 50 km/h. By finishing the 4.6 km in 5 minutes 28 seconds, Thor showed off an average speed of 50,49 km/h.

    With his second place, Markel Irizar still finishes before Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner, 5 min 33) who started last, Bradley McGee (CSC, also 5 min 33) who started just after Hushovd and the French William Bonnet (Crédit Agricole, 5 min 34).

    Crédit Agricole starts Paris-Nice with some nice successes with two riders among the 5 first for the prologue and Thor Hushovd who can wear the very first yellow jersey for this race to the sun.

    The timekeeping system

    This Paris-Nice prologue was also the occasion for me to discover the time keeping system in detail, together with the system being used to process the information for the press (through and A.S.O. intranet), the letour.fr website and television.

    In the video below you'll first see the rider who started first this afternoon at 12h10, the French Thierry Hupond (number 195, that's why you'll hear "195 à l'arrivée"). Then you'll see how his time is recorded by Matsport and finally how these details are given out through Radio Course (quite funny to recognise the voice of Radio Tour I heard the whole month of July; this allowed me to put a face on that voice :-).

    What's next?

    Tomorrow, Monday, the first stage connects Amilly to Nevers in 184,5 km.
    All information about the Paris-Nice 2008 track and stages is of course still available in the corresponding article on this website.

    In the mean time at the UCI ...

    In a letter sent to all teams and riders, UCI's president, Pat McQuaid, again emphasised that Paris-Nice is not being organised according to the rules, but this time without any threat like it was the case last week.

    Since the UCI regulations do not apply I have to draw your attention to the possible results of participation in a race which is being organised outside the UCI regulations. This will definitely lead to difficulties, incertitudes and bad surprises. McQuaid also mentions the missing guarantee for participation based on objective and neutral criteria which have been agreed upon before the start, just like the rules for a possible exclusion from the race which can completely be decided by the organisor.

    The UCI praises A.S.O. qualities concerning the material organisation (that's a first!) but does indicate that many things remain unclear concerning assurances and responsibilities of the team and the riders in case of an accident or any other form of damage.

    Concerning the rules which apply to this race McQuaid not only mentions that these can be different for each race of even for each year but also that the organisor decides alone about his rules and can thus take a decision purely based on personal interpretation.

    It seems to be that the UCI still wants to make clear Paris-Nice is an illegal race, but the way the UCI is talking to riders and teams has returned back to normal without any threats like last week. The only thing which remains is the case the UCI filed against the FFC and its president and against Eric Boyer as the president of the AIGCP.

    Familiar faces

    In addition to the riders, this prologue was also the occasion for me to run into some familiar faces I know from the Tour de France ... Gio Lippens of the NOS (Dutch radio & TV), several people of the AG2R-La Mondiale and Caisse d'Epargne cycling teams, people working for A.S.O., and so on ...

    I would like to thank Caisse d'Epargne by the way for the ride back to Paris :-).

    Furthermore, I would like to wish Oscar Pereiro Sio all the best for the bronchitis he suffers from currently!

    Paris-Nice 2008 prologue in Amilly on photo and video

    During the week you'll be able to find here all photos and movies I took during the Paris-Nice 2008 prologue.

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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    this article appears in the following categories: Paris-Nice| Cycling general (except Tour de France) | share on Facebook | delicious | twitter | Google | technorati

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