March 14, 2005
Graham Watson Paris-Nice photo gallery
March 12, 2005
Julich one day closer to big win
Joost Posthuma of Rabobank took a big win Saturday, riding away from an 8-rider breakaway on the Col du Tanneron and soloing the last 20 kilometers into Cannes.
American Bobby Julich rode in the peloton, protected by a strong CSC squad, and his lead was never seriously threatened.
Tomorrow may be another day, however, as the race's final stage features a 2nd-category and three 1st-category climbs before finishing in Julich's adopted hometown of Nice.
Alejandro Valverde, sitting third overall:
"You could see Julich was very strong at Mont Faron," said third-placed Valverde. "We're running out of road to make up any time. Sunday's stage presents a favorable course, but the CSC block is also very solid. I see it as difficult."
Julich sounds optimistic:
"I know every single one of the climbs tomorrow, so I am very confident," Julich said.
March 11, 2005
Graham Watson Stage 5 gallery available
Julich looks for big win at Paris-Nice
Bobby Julich will face off against Alejandro Valverde and Jorg Jaksche this weekend to try and defend his lead at Paris-Nice.
Julich's 3rd place in the 1998 Tour de France was the post-Lemond high-water mark for US Tour participants, but Lance Armstrong's emergence and a series of disappointing results for Julich had him considering retirement two years ago.
Julich hooked up with Bjarne Riis at CSC, and has experienced a rebirth, capped by his bronze medal in the TT at the Athens Olympics.
Before the start of the stage Julich had struck a pact with room-mate Jens Voigt: "I said to Jens, 'If the yellow jersey isn't in our room tonight, we both have to sleep on the floor…' "
Julich had particularly kind words for Valverde:
"It's the first time I've raced against Valverde," said Julich, "but what he did last year particularly is impressive. I'm a fan of his. He has huge class and looks to be the future of Spanish cycling."
One interesting quote from Part II is Julich on David Zabriskie, now with CSC:
The first thing was total disbelief was that Postal Service wouldn't sign David Zabriskie. I was blown away and I had to ask (Riis), are you sure that he's available? Absolutely, 100 percent this is the guy you want because by far he is the top American talent under the age of 25. I saw him race, he's great time trialist, great worker. He is one of the future stars of American cycling.
New helmet rule DQ's Merckx and Van Summeren
The UCI now requires that riders wear helmets at ALL times, even on closing climbs. Previously, riders could ditch the lids at the end of climbing stages once the roads turned up and the speeds cooled down.
Axel Merckx and Johan Van Summeren got stung by the rule after Friday's stage, and are out of Paris-Nice.
"I accept the decision. The most bizarre thing is that I always wear my helmet, even when I'm training.
"Today it was the bus driver who told me to take my helmet off at the foot of the climb, and I did it without even thinking about it."
Simoni takes Stage 5, Julich the lead at Paris-Nice
Gilberto Simoni rode away from the field 2 kilometers before the finish atop Mont Faron, and won his first race as a member of the Lampré team.
Simoni, whose climbing won him the Giro d'Italia in 2001 and 2003, was followed by Cadel Evans of Australia, and David Moncoutié at the summit.
Julich finished 10th on the day, 40 seconds behind Simoni, and leads Saunier Duval's Constantino Zaballa by 19 seconds, and iBanesto's Alejandro Valverde by 20 seconds.
Reuters notes that T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov, who won this climb in 2003 on the way to overall victory, was "dropped early in the climb and looks to have lost all hopes of a final victory".
Graham Watson Stage 4 gallery
Julich CSC's Paris-Nice pick?
Procycling tips Bobby Julich as the likely beneficiary of a strong CSC squad through the remainder of Paris-Nice.
He made it into the telling break yesterday and, with three days of climbing to come, is now facing his best shot for a long time at big-time stage race success.
March 10, 2005
Cancellara takes Stage 4, overall lead at Paris-Nice
Swiss heartthrob Fabian Cancellara, who took the prologue and wore the leader's jersey at the 2004 Tour de France, took over the lead at Paris-Nice with a stage win over Estonian sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu.
Cancellara made a crucial break late with Fassa Bortolo teammate Juan Antonio Flecha, CSC's Bobby Julich, 2004 Paris-Nice winner Jorg Jaksche of Liberty Seguros, and Phonak's Nicolas Portal.
Cancellara and Flecha now lead the overall, with Flecha 15 seconds back. Then it's Bobby Julich at 20 seconds, Tom Boonen at 31 seconds, Erik Dekker at 33 seconds. CSC's Arvesen, Voigt, and Gusev are riders 7 through 9. CSC looks set up for a very nice overall.
Tomorrow's stage, to Mont-Faron, finishes with two 2nd-category climbs and a 1st-category up to the finish line.
1. Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo, 2:11:03
2. Jaan Kirsipuu, Credit Agricole, same time
3. Juan Antonio Flecha, Fassa Bortolo, @ 2 secs
4. Bobby Julich, USA, CSC, @ 5 secs
5. Nicolas Jalabert, Phonak, @ 5 secs
6. Jorg Jaksche, Liberty Seguros, @ 5 secs
7. Iker Camano, Euskaltel, @ 8 secs
8. Nicolas Portal, AG2R, @ 10 secs
9. Paolo Bossoni, Fassa Bortolo, @ 22 secs
10. Tom Boonen, QuickStep, @ 32 secs
1. Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo, 10:09:50
2. Juan Antonio Flecha, Fassa Bortolo, @ 15 secs
3. Bobby Julich, CSC, @ 20 secs
4. Tom Boonen, QuickStep, @ 31 secs
5. Erik Dekker, Rabobank, @ 33 secs
6. Vicente Reynes, iBanesto, @ 35 secs
7. Kurt-Asle Arvesen, CSC, @ 36 secs
8. Jens Voigt, CSC, @ 37 secs
9. Vladimir Gusev, CSC, @ 40 secs
10. Philippe Gilbert, Francaise Des Jeux, @ 47 secs
March 09, 2005
Armstrong ditches Paris-Nice
Lance Armstrong will not start Thursday's stage of Paris-Nice. Discovery director Johan Bruyneel said the six-time Tour de France winner is suffering from a fever and sore throat, exacerbated by the cold that's led to two stages so far being shortened.
At left, a picture of Armstrong struggling on Wednesday's climbs from Graham Watson's daily photo gallery.
Reynes outsprints Trenti, Rodriguez at Paris-Nice stage 3
Vicente Reynes, of Illes Balears, took his first professional win Wednesday, on a shortened stage 3 at Paris-Nice.
Reynes led QuickStep's Guido Trenti and Lotto's Fred Rodriguez across the line. Trenti carries dual Italian-American citizenship, while Rodriguez is a 3-time USPRO champion.
Tom Boonen retains the overall lead.
Looks like Thursday's stage may also be modified, since Le Chambon, intended to be today's finish and tomorrow's start, is difficult to reach.
Procycling mentions that Floyd Landis was in an early break, but the official site says he fell back late in the stage. Discovery's Yaroslav Popovych, who was 3rd on yesterday's shortened stage, also factored in the break, which was eventually closed down by CSC and QuickStep. David Moncoutié's place in that break has him in the climber's jersey, for now.
March 08, 2005
Graham Watson Paris-Nice Stage 2 gallery available
Boonen takes stage, lead at Paris-Nice
Tom Boonen took another sprint finish, and the 10-second bonus for the win put him in the overall lead.
Riders transferred to Aigueperse, planned to be at 144.5 km, for the start, shortening the stage to just 46.5 km, which they covered in 53:51. Clearly, nobody wanted to stay out in the weather.
Wednesday's third stage, scheduled to include a first-category climb and finish at about 1000 m above sea level, may also be shortened. Update: In a members-only story at ThePaceline.com, Johan Bruyneel said tomorrow's stage is likely to include the two climbs (including the first-category Cote de Lavet) which are in the first 80 kms, then a 40-kilometer loop not on the scheduled course.
Today's top 10:
1. Boonen, QuickStep, 53:51
2. Kurt-Asle Arvesen, CSC, same time
3. Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery, same time
4. Vicente Reynes, Illes Balears, s.t.
5. Olaf Pollack, T-Mobile, s.t.
6. Erik Dekker, Rabobank, s.t.
7. Constantino Zaballa, Saunier Duval, s.t.
8. Jerome Pineau, Illes Balears, s.t.
9. Vladimir Gusev, CSC, s.t.
10. Alejandro Valverde, Illes Balears, s.t.
In the overall, CSC is lurking, with riders lying 3, 4, and 5:
1. Boonen, QuickStep 5:17:55
2. Erik Dekker, Rabobank, at :03
3. Kurt-Asle Arvesen, CSC, at :05
4. Vladimir Gusev, CSC, at :09
5. Jens Voigt, CSC, at :09
Armstrong suffering at Paris-Nice
Six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong told Eurosport he's really hurting in his first race of the year:
"I think my condition is bad or not great, but I also think that this is a later start than usual for me," he told Eurosport before the start of Stage 2 of the Paris-Nice. "Last year I started racing in early February, but this year I chose to stay in the States longer and to start here now.
"I wouldn't normally suffer in a race like this as I would have competed prior to the event," he added, "but training is very different from race conditions as this is how you get the speed into your legs."
Armstrong dropped to 70th overall on the stage, which was shortened due to snow. He also confirmed his upcoming racing schedule will include the Tour of Flanders, Tour of Georgia, and Dauphiné Libéré, and his website confirmed Monday that he'll ride the team time trial in Eindhoven June 19th.
Procycling reports that Armstrong will ride Paris-Camembert March 29th. They also report that Armstrong wants to race Paris-Roubaix, but that team director Johan Bruyneel doesn't want to take the risk of riding the cobble-heavy Hell of the North.
March 07, 2005
Brrr! GrahamWatson Paris-Nice Stage 1 gallery posted
Erik Dekker takes lead as Boonen takes Paris-Nice Stage 1
Northern Europe's fastest sprinter, QuickStep's Tom Boonen, won the first stage at Paris-Nice Monday.
Boonen nipped Luciano Pagliarini and Jaan Kirsipuu at the line, after a crash with 4.5 miles (7 kms) left 20 riders out in front of the pack.
Erik "How old am I anyway?" Dekker, who finished with the leaders and got some bonus time, takes over the race lead. Also among the leaders was Spain's Alejandro Valverde, and Guido Trenti, often of the US, who was 8th for the stage.
Discovery's Lance Armstrong reportedly went down in the crash, and needed some repairs. Like most of the field, he lost 40+ seconds to the leaders.
Also active today was Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano of Liberty Seguros, who took a flyer at the 45-km mark, and rode with Fabien Sanchez for 120 kms, or almost 80 miles.
Bobby Julich sits 9th overall, 7 seconds back, but will likely ride in support of Jens Voigt.
1. BOONEN Tom, QuickStep, in 4:19:15
2. PAGLIARINI Luciano, Liquigas, same time
3. KIRSIPUU Jaan, Credit Agricole, same time
4. CASPER Jimmy, Cofidis, same time
5. DE JONGH Steven, Rabobank, same time
6. VALVERDE Alejandro, iBanesto, same time
7. GILBERT Philippe, FDJeux.com, same time
8. TRENTI Guido, QuickStep, same time
9. ZABALLA Constantino, Saunier-Duval, same time
10. DEKKER Erik, Rabobank, same time
1. Erik Dekker (Rabobank) 4hr 24min 30sec
2. Jens Voigt (CSC) same time
3. Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) at 02sec
4. Vladimir Gusev (CSC) at :03
5. Tom Boonen (QuickStep) at :04
6. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC) at :07
7. Philippe Gilbert (FDJeux.com) at :07
8. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) at :07
9. Bobby Julich (CSC) at :07
10. Vicente Reynes (iBanesto) at :09
Also: 70. Lance Armstrong (Discovery) at 1:08
March 06, 2005
GrahamWatson.com Paris-Nice prologue gallery up
Paris-Nice prologue kicks off ProTour
Lance Armstrong has said he's riding for early-season fitness, and his (correction) 140th place on the day suggests he's not sandbagging. Of course, it's a 4-kilometer prologue, so time differences will be tiny.
Today's top 10:
1. Jens Voigt, CSC
2. Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo
3. Erik Dekker, Rabobank
4. Vladimir Gusev, CSC
5. Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis
6. Nico Mattan, Davitamon-Lotto
7. Alberto Contador, Liberty Seguros
8. David Zabriskie, CSC (USA)
9. Oscar Pereiro, Phonak
10. Michael Rogers, QuickStep (Australia)