4. Mc Gee
The live coverage of the Paris Nice prologue was interrupted by technical problems. Please accept our apologies.
Cofidis team director Francis Van Londersele told www.letour.fr David Mouncoutie had been scared by the weather conditions, hence his poor performance in the prologue: Â« David is very ill at ease in such conditions. The road is not swept by the rain but made greasy and slippery with the dust and mud. In such conditions a rider like David is very tense and jittery. His crash on the Tour de Romandie was a trauma he is struggling to put behind him. Â»
Australia’s Cadel Evans told French daily Aujourd’hui about his ambitions in this Paris-Nice: Â« Paris-Nice is a race I adore. But it comes so early in the season that I try not to focus too much on it. Right now, Iâ€™m about 75 percent of my potential. Iâ€™m here above alll to prepare for further goals and I see myself, hopefully, more as a good team-mate for Yaroslav Popovych. Â»
France’s David Moncoutie lost 54 seconds on Markel Irizar. Injured in a bad crah in similar weather conditions in last year’s Tour de Romandie, the Cofidis rider obviously took no risks.
The rain claimed its first victim in American Tyler Farrar (TSL), who crashed and finished in 8:41.
Weather conditions are deterioriating as Frank Schleck (Team CSC), one of the favourites for overall victory, finishes in 6:02, half a minute off the pace.
Irizar holds to his lead. Aged 28, the tall Basque (1.83 meters) has been a pro since 2004.
Four former Tour de France prologue winners are at the start: David Millar (Futuroscope, 2000), Thor Hushovd (Strasbourg, 2006), Bradley McGee (Paris, 2003) and Christophe Moreau (Dunkirk, 2001)
Markel Irizar (Spain, EUS) still leads on 5:32, followed by William Bonnet (France, CA) and Danny Pate (U.S. TSL) both on 5:34.
A slight drizzle started to fall on the race just as Jens Voight completed his prologue in 5:39.
American team Slipstream, launched this season with a strong anti-doping programme, is one of the French media favourites. Team chief Jonathan Vaughters told Le Journal du Dimanche: Â« If we did not communicate on our anti-doping programme, we would be considered as just the new American team and people would wonder what we take. Here we can say proudly weâ€™re clean. Â»
Spain’s Markel Irizar (Euskaltel) improves Pate’s time in 5:32.
Credit Agricole team director Serge Beucherie believes in Thor Hushovd chances today but would have liked a more technical course : Â« Itâ€™s a prologue without any difficulties. Thord (Hushovd) is among the favourites but Millar is the man to beat. It would suit Thor better if it were a little bit more technical... Â»
The weather is cloudy and windy, but rain is not falling... yet.
American Danny Pate (TSL) clocked the first reference time in 5:34.
Prologue favourite David Millar (Britain, TSL) told sports daily l’Equipe: Â« Paris-Nice is my first big objective. I worked very hard in the winter to achieve it. Last Thursday I climbed the Ventoux twice in the cold so I want to ride. I belong to an American team without any pressure from the spnsor. We just want to be at the start because Paris-Nice is a great race that is part of history. Weâ€™re in it for the sport, nothing else. Â»
The last three winners of the prologue will be at the start. The 2007 winner, David Millar, will start at 14:31. Crowned in 2006, American Bobby Julich starts at 14:24. Germany’s Jens Voigt, the 2005 winner, will be among the early starters at 12:44.
France’s Thierry Hupond (Skil Shimano) will be the first starter at 12:10 and the last will be Germany’s Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) at 14:49.
Welcome on the 4.6-km prologue of the 66th Paris-Nice in Amilly.