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The last major classic of the cycling season is approaching, presenting emerging sprinters with an opportunity to make a name for themselves, or even a breakthrough for certain riders in the young riders’ race…
A THIRD CARD TO PLAY FOR BMC? Although the number 1 bib will be on the jersey of Greg Van Avermaet, in its ranks the title holder’s team also boasts the former world champion Alessandro Ballan, but the in-form rider in the group is most probably young Adam Blythe, who recently won the Binche-Tournai-Binche race as well as achieving 2nd place last weekend on the final stage of the Franco-Belgian circuit. However, to become the first British rider to win Paris-Tours, he will have to do battle with a French duo who have been just as efficient recently. It was the French champion himself, Nacer Bouhanni, who beat Blythe in the sprint on the Franco-Belgian circuit, whilst Adrien Petit finished in second place in Binche, just in front of another pretender for the title on Sunday… John Degenkolb.
GRAMMONT: 140 METRES BETTER! The arrival of the tram system in the city centre of Tours has altered the finish of the race since last year, in particular the approach to Avenue de Grammont, which is now reached by Avenue Jean Royer. For the 2012 edition, a new layout of the finishing line zone, opposite the City Hall, has made it possible to lengthen the final straight from 660 metres to 800 metres.
ZABEL IN THE YOUNG RIDERS RACE. A three times winner of Paris-Tours, German Erik Zabel finished his career in 2008 with a 7th-placed finish at the end of Avenue de Grammont, but his name has not yet finished marking the history of the event. His son Rick will be attempting to live up to his father’s fame and will start this year by trying his luck on the Paris-Tours Espoirs young riders’ race, on this 22nd edition that starts from Bonneval covering a distance of 183 kilometres. The German youth champion will be rubbing shoulders in the pack with another heir to a cycling dynasty, Kevyn Ledanois, son of Yvon Ledanois. In the French ranks, they will also have to keep a close eye on two former junior world champions, Olivier Le Gac (2010) and Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (2011), as well as the recent winner of the Tour de l’Avenir, Warren Barguil.
FIREWORK DISPLAY IN CHÂTEAUNEUF. The Eure-et-Loir department, which already last July welcomed the last time-trial stage on which Bradley Wiggins sealed his victory on the Tour de France, will again be hosting cycling’s elite for the start of Paris-Tours in Châteauneuf-en-Thymerais. The General Council and the municipal authorities have decided to devote the weekend to cycling, starting on Saturday 6th October with a series of rides over routes for all levels (7 km, 22 km, 45 km and 72 km). The afternoon events (bicycle exhibitions, cycling proficiency tests for children, etc.) will then be followed by a firework display scheduled for 9 PM.
BROADCAST LIVE ON FRANCE TV AT 3 PM. As in 2011, 22 broadcasters will be devoting programmes to Paris-Tours, which will be viewed in 151 countries in total, all over the world. The race will be broadcast live or slightly deferred by 17 channels, with Belgian and Dutch viewers of VRT, RTBF and Nos 1 able to follow the pack’s progress from as early as 2.40 PM. France Télévisions, which will be airing the race on France 3 from 3 PM onwards, will also be showing a 52-minute documentary dedicated to the race. After France 3 Centre last week, France 3 Paris-Ile de France will be broadcasting “La course des lévriers : une histoire de Paris-Tours” (The race of the greyhounds: the history of Paris-Tours), made by Dominique Adt, on Saturday 6th October at 3.20 PM.
© Presse Sports
And the battle continues. The sprinters come face to face on several occasions throughout the season, which all offer opportunities for revenge or serve as confirmation.
At Paris-Tours, the heavyweights on the final stretch are often ambushed by would-be assailants either close-up or from further away. They have paid the price for this, for example in 2011 with the noteworthy initiative of Greg Van Avermaet. The Belgian rider now has his title at stake and will have to be even more audacious to prevent a mass sprint on the avenue de Grammont, this coming Sunday 7 October, 235 kilometres after having left Châteauneuf-en-Thymerais (Eure-et-Loir). Among the registered candidates, promising newcomer to the discipline John Degenkolb is showing sufficient signs of success to aim at sealing a first victory in a great classic. The year has already got off to a good start for the speedster of the Argos-Shimano team with success at the Four Days of Dunkirk and the Tour de Picardie. This continued with a veritable festival on the Vuelta where he won 5 stages before taking fourth place at the World Championship in Valkenburg.
Degenkolb could, nevertheless, be thwarted by the French clan where talk of the sprint is intensifying. On the shoulders of Nacer Bouhanni, the tricolour jersey was firmly embedded in the top 5 of 5 stages on the Vuelta and he is once again expected to find himself at the forefront of the photo finish. It may transpire that Adrien Petit, another of the discipline’s great hopes, manages to get a place too. But the experienced Jimmy Casper will certainly have a role to play. All regulars in this domain, the Belgian riders will have a say in it, with several generations being represented: Gert Steegmans will have to keep close tabs on his younger compatriots Sep VanMarcke and Gianni Meersman who performed very well on the roads of Spain.
25 TEAMS: THE MAIN COMPETITORS (on 25/09)
Orica Greenedge (OGE): Cooke, Meyer (AUS)
Accent Jobs - Willems Verandas’s (ACC): Ista (Bel)
Landbouwkrediet - Euphony (LAN): Juodvalkis (Lit)
Lotto-Belisol Team (LTB): Meersman (Bel)
Omega Pharma - Quick Step (OPQ): Chavanel (Fra), Steegmans (Bel), Stybar (Rtc)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator (TSV): De Vreese (Bel)
Team Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank (STB): Kroon (Ned), Roberts (Aus)
BMC Racing Team (BMC): Ballan (Ita), Van Avermaet (Bel)
Garmin-Sharp (GRS): Maaskant (Ned), VanMarcke (Bel)
Team Type 1 - Sanofi (TT1): Bodrogi (Fra)
Euskaltel-Euskadi: Astarloza (Esp), Sicard (Fra)
AG2R La Mondiale (ALM): Casper, Kadri (Fra)
Auber 93 (AUB): Bacquet (Fra)
Bretagne-Schuller (BSC): Delpech, Le Bon, Lequatre (Fra)
Cofidis Le Crédit en ligne (COF): Duque (Col), Dumoulin, Petit (Fra)
FDJ-BigMat (FDJ): Bouhanni, Geslin, Soupe (Fra)
Saur-Sojasun (SAU): Hivert, Le Lay (Fra)
Team Europcar (EUC): Haddou, Turgot (Fra)
Team La Pomme - Marseille (LPM): Koretzky (Fra), Siskevicius (Lit)
Sky Procycling (SKY): Eisel (AUT), Thomas (GBR)
Radioshack-Nissan (RNT): Fuglsang (Dan)
Rabobank Cycling Team (RAB): Boom (Ned), Breschel (Dan)
Team Argos-Shimano (ARG): Barguil (Fra), Degenkolb (Ger)
Vacansoleil-DCM (VCD): De Gendt, Leukemans (Bel), Westra (Ned)
Katusha Team (KAT): Isaichev (Rus)
Twenty-five cycling teams have been selected to participate in the 106th edition of Paris-Tours, which will take place on Sunday the 7th of October.
Fourteen Pro Teams:
AG2R La Mondiale (FRA)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Euskaltel – Euskadi (ESP)
FDJ – BigMat (FRA)
Garmin – Sharp (USA)
Katusha Team (RUS)
Lotto Belisol Team (BEL)
Omega Pharma – QuickStep (BEL)
Orica Greenedge (AUS)
Rabobank Cycling Team (NED)
RadioShack – Nissan (LUX)
Sky Procycling (GBR)
Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank (DEN)
Vacansoleil – DCM Pro Cycling Team (NED)
Nine Continental Pro Teams:
Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s (BEL)
Bretagne – Schuller (FRA)
Cofidis, le crédit en ligne (FRA)
Landbouwkrediet – Euphony (BEL)
Saur – Sojasun (FRA)
Team Europcar (FRA)
Team Type 1 – Sanofi (USA)
Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator (BEL)
Two Continental Teams:
Auber 93 (FRA)
La Pomme Marseille (FRA)