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Guesdon snaps French losing streak at Paris-Tours

The long French victory drought at Paris-Tours was just a hazy memory on Sunday as Frederic Guesdon won the 100th edition of the classic race. The veteran rider from Brittany beat Norway's Kurt-Asle Arvesen at the line, the two of them representing the final, desperate remnant of a 28-man pack that broke away more than four hours earlier. Crossing the finish on the famous Avenue du Grammont in Tours, just eight seconds behind the first two riders, were 35 pursuers led by Stuart O'Grady. They had come some 254km, under sunny skies, from the outskirts of Paris. Guesdon, who turns 35

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By Nathaniel Vinton

Guesdon scores a second classics win, nine years after his first

Guesdon scores a second classics win, nine years after his first

Photo: AFP

The long French victory drought at Paris-Tours was just a hazy memory on Sunday as Frederic Guesdon won the 100th edition of the classic race. The veteran rider from Brittany beat Norway’s Kurt-Asle Arvesen at the line, the two of them representing the final, desperate remnant of a 28-man pack that broke away more than four hours earlier.

Crossing the finish on the famous Avenue du Grammont in Tours, just eight seconds behind the first two riders, were 35 pursuers led by Stuart O’Grady. They had come some 254km, under sunny skies, from the outskirts of Paris.

Guesdon, who turns 35 next week, had not won a major race since 1997, when he won Paris-Roubaix. In all that time he has worn the Française des Jeux uniform (both Arvesen and O’Grady ride for CSC).

The early going - before two thirds of the field called it quits

The early going – before two thirds of the field called it quits

Photo: Graham Watson

Complete results

Guesdon was the third Frenchman to win the classic race in eight years, but just the fourth in the last half-century. Albert Bouvet, who won in 1956 and watched a French drought last until 1998, pointed out that Guesdon was, like him, from Brittany, unlike Jacky Durand (1998) and Richard Virenque (2001).

“They won because they attacked, and I followed their example,” said Guesdon, who broke away on a small climb with 8km to go. “I felt this morning that I could do something with that climb. I even told one of the younger riders on the team. I was very motivated this morning.”

When Guesdon sprang forward, he was part of a five-man group that also included Kevin Van Impe (QuickStep), Christian Moreni (Cofidis), Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas) and Arvesen. For much of the last 40km of the race, they had led by about 20 seconds.

Arnesen blinked when Guesdon dumped his daylong mates, but then decided to join the Frenchman for the long, tree-lined boulevard into Tours. Having just looked over his shoulder and seen a massive group moving up on him, Arvesen needed the inspiration.

“When I saw the peloton behind us before the last three climbs, I didn’t believe it,” said Arvesen. “But you never give up when you’ve been away for so long.”

Van Impe, Guesdon, Moreni and Arveson on the march

Van Impe, Guesdon, Moreni and Arveson on the march

Photo: Graham Watson

Arvesen said that he blew it tactically as he and Guesdon took turns leading at the finish. “I did everything wrong there, so he deserved to win,” he said. “To be second after a long break like that is not so fun, but he was strong.”

O’Grady has come on strong at the end of the season, finishing first in the points at the Tour of Denmark in August, second overall in the Zurich Championship earlier this month, and now third here in the sprinter’s classic.

“Nice to have some form back,” he said. “2006 wasn’t my year, but at least I can see the form’s good and I’m already looking forward to carrying this strength on. I’ll carry this strength on and we’ll see some carnage.”

It was the 100th running of the Paris-Tours, the sprinter’s classic that winds southwest through France from the outskirts of the capital to this ancient city on the Loire. The sun was out and the air was crisp for this, the second-to-last scored race on the UCI Pro Tour calendar.

An early break of 28 riders jumped out to a big lead, and another 40 went after them in the second hour of the race, catching all but Guesdon and Arvesen.

The second group included contenders like O’Grady, Filippo Pozzato (Quick Step), Daniele Bennati (Lampre), Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) and his teammate Jaan Kirsipuu, riding in his last professional race.

Arveson and Guesdon

Arveson and Guesdon

Photo: Graham Watson

“There was wind, so we had to be concentrated the whole time,” said Hushovd, who had high praise for Kirsipuu.

Of the original 196 riders, only 72 stayed in the race beyond the feed zone at the 149km mark. A huge pack dropped out at that point, having failed to join a large chase group that set out in pursuit of an early breakaway group.

Among those dropping out at the feed zone were last year’s winner Erik Zabel of Milram (who also won here in 1994 and 2003) and Belgian star Tom Boonen of Quick Step-Innergetic.

Boonen said he’s looking forward to going somewhere warm for a vacation. “Last year I took seven or eight weeks off, so I’ll do the same this year,” he said at the start. “The season’s always getting longer and harder, so it’s necessary to take longer breaks.”

Race notes
In a race that rewards great sprinters, one of the greatest – Robbie McEwen of Davitamon-Lotto – was absent, choosing instead to race in the Sun Tour in his native Australia.

Only the Tour of Lombardy, which begins October 14, remains on the UCI Pro Tour calendar. Alejandro Valverde of Spain has already clinched the season title.

It was the final professional race for Jaan Kirsipuu. The 37-year-old Estonian rider, who said before the race that he felt no different than on any other race day, finished in the bunch. The result sheet says he finished 26th, eight seconds behind Guesdon.

The podium

The podium

Photo: Graham Watson

Students of European history know that the city of Tours is most famous for a battle that occurred in 732, in which Charles Martel defeated an invading Muslim army, marking the northernmost incursion of Islamic empires into Europe.

Top 10
1. Frederic Guesdon (F) Francaise des Jeux, 5:31:09
2. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor), CSC. same time
3. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), CSC, at 0:08
4. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Crédit Agricole, s.t.
5. Alexandre Usov (Blr), Ag2r, s.t.
6. Baden Cooke (Aus), Unibet.com, s.t.
7. Frank Hoj (Den), Gerolsteiner, s.t.
8. Danilo Napolitano (I), Lampre, s.t.
9. Tom Steels (B), Davitamon-Lotto, s.t.
10. Filippo Pozzato (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, s.t.

Photo Gallery

Results

Results

1.Frédéric Guesdon (F), Francaise des Jeux

2. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor), CSC, 00:00

3. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), CSC, 00:08

4. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Credit Agricole, 00:08

5. Alexandre Usov (Blr), Ag2r Prevoyance, 00:08

6. Baden Cooke (Aus), Unibet.com, 00:08

7. Frank Hoj (Dk), Gerolsteiner, 00:08

8. Danilo Napolitano (I), Lampre, 00:08

9. Tom Steels (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 00:08

10. Filippo Pozzato (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, 00:08

11. Vladimir Gusev (Rus), Discovery Channel, 00:08

12. Anthony Geslin (F), Bouygues Telecom, 00:08

13. Philippe Gilbert (B), Francaise des Jeux, 00:08

14. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Rabobank, 00:08

15. Amorison Frédéric (B), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 00:08

16. Minard Sébastien (F), Cofidis, 00:08

17. Olaf Pollack (G), T-Mobile, 00:08

18. Gorik Gardeyn (B), Unibet.com, 00:08

19. Cristian Moreni (I), Cofidis, 00:08

20. Thomas Fothen (G), Gerolsteiner, 00:08

21. Aart Vierhouten (Nl), Skil-Shimano, 00:08

22. Fabio Sacchi (I), Milram, 00:08

23. Jan Boven (Nl), Rabobank, 00:08

24. Aaron Kemps (Aus), Astana, 00:08

25. Geoffroy Lequatre (F), Cofidis, 00:08

26. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est), Credit Agricole, 00:08

27. Finot Frédéric (F), Francaise des Jeux, 00:08

28. Stijn Devolder (B), Discovery Channel, 00:08

29. Nick Nuyens (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, 00:08

30. Luca Paolini (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, 00:08

31. Franck Renier (F), Bouygues Telecom, 00:08

32. Pablo Lastras (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne-I.B., 00:08

33. Maarten Tjallingii (Nl), Skil-Shimano, 00:08

34. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC, 00:08

35. Thomas Voeckler (F), Bouygues Telecom, 00:12

36. Alberto Ongarato (I), Milram, 00:14

37. Daniele Bennati (I), Lampre, 00:14

38. Manuel Quinziato (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, 00:34

39. Sebastian Siedler (G), Milram, 00:34

40. PÃœtsep Erki (Est), Ag2r Prevoyance, 01:02

41. Carlos Abellan (Sp), Astana, 01:08

42. Lars Michaelsen (Dk), CSC, 04:14

43. Alessandro Ballan (I), Lampre, 04:14

44. Enrico Gasparotto (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, 04:14

45. Jan Kuyckx (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 04:29

46. Inaki Isasi (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 04:29

47. Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr), Ag2r Prevoyance, 05:27

48. Van Impe Kévin (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, 07:37

49. Peter Wrolich (A), Gerolsteiner, 09:36

50. Lars Bak (Dk), CSC, 09:36

51. David Vitoria (Swi), Phonak, 09:36

52. Evert Verbist (B), Chocolade Jacques – T Interim, 09:36

53. Koen De Kort (Nl), Astana, 09:36

54. Steven De Jongh (Nl), Quick Step-Innergetic, 09:36

55. Graeme Brown (Aus), Rabobank, 09:36

56. David Loosli (Swi), Lampre, 09:36

57. Pedro Horrillo (Sp), Rabobank, 09:36

58. Enrico Franzoi (I), Lampre, 09:36

59. Christoph Meschenmoser (G), Skil-Shimano, 11:27

60. Kasper Klostergaard (Dk), CSC, 11:27

61. Mark Renshaw (Aus), Credit Agricole, 11:27

62. Jurgen Van Goolen (B), Discovery Channel, 11:27

63. Tyler Farrar (USA), Cofidis, 11:27

64. Mauro Santambrogio (I), Lampre, 11:27

65. Volodimir Bileka (Ukr), Discovery Channel, 11:27

66. Mauro Da Dalto (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, 11:27

67. Poulhies Stéphane (F), Ag2r Prevoyance, 11:27

DNF

Damien Monier (F), Cofidis

Unai Uribarri (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

Xavier Florencio (Sp), Bouygues Telecom

Vincent Jerome (F), Bouygues Telecom

Yoann Le Boulanger (F), Bouygues Telecom

Rony Martias (F), Bouygues Telecom

Matthieu Sprick (F), Bouygues Telecom

Christophe Detilloux (B), Francaise des Jeux

Arnaud Gerard (F), Francaise des Jeux

Matthieu Ladagnous (F), Francaise des Jeux

Bradley Mc Gee (Aus), Francaise des Jeux

Roy Jérémy (F), Francaise des Jeux

Johan Coenen (B), Unibet.com

Hunt Jérémy (GB), Unibet.com

Jonas Ljungblad (Swe), Unibet.com

Ruben Perez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

Iban Mayoz (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

Staf Scheirlinckx (B), Cofidis

Cadel Evans (Aus), Davitamon-Lotto

Olivier Kaisen (B), Davitamon-Lotto

Bjorn Leukemans (B), Davitamon-Lotto

Nico Mattan (B), Davitamon-Lotto

Pieter Mertens (B), Davitamon-Lotto

Bert Roesems (B), Davitamon-Lotto

Renaud Dion (F), Ag2r Prevoyance

Christophe Riblon (F), Ag2r Prevoyance

Tomas Vaitkus (Lit), Ag2r Prevoyance

Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

Andoni Aranaga (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

Koldo Fernandez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

Inigo Landaluze (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

Luis Pasamontes (Sp), Unibet.com

Laurens Ten Dam (Nl), Unibet.com

Andy Cappelle (B), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago

Bert De Waele (B), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago

Kevin Neyrinck (B), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago

Nico Sijmens (B), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago

James Vanlandschoot (B), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago

Jurgen Van Loocke (B), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago

Floris Goesinnen (Nl), Skil-Shimano

Paul Martens (G), Skil-Shimano

Piet Rooijakkers (Nl), Skil-Shimano

Van Hummel Kenny Robert (Nl), Skil-Shimano

Weissinger René (G), Skil-Shimano

Carlos Barredo (Sp), Astana

Daniel Navarro (Sp), Astana

Joaquin Jose Joaquin (Sp), Astana

Johan Verstrepen (B), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago

Benoit Sinner (F), Agritubel

Marco Zanotti (I), Unibet.com

Nico Eeckhout (B), Chocolade Jacques – T Interim

Steven Caethoven (B), Chocolade Jacques – T Interim

Jens Renders (B), Chocolade Jacques – T Interim

Tom Stubbe (B), Chocolade Jacques – T Interim

Frederik Veuchelen (B), Chocolade Jacques – T Interim

Maarten Wynants (B), Chocolade Jacques – T Interim

Serge Pauwels (B), Chocolade Jacques – T Interim

Hans Dekkers (Nl), Agritubel

Linas Balciunas (Lit), Agritubel

Aivaras Baranauskas (Lit), Agritubel

Buffaz Mickaël (F), Agritubel

Benjamin Johnson (Aus), Agritubel

Olivier Lenaïc (F), Agritubel

Eladio Sanchez (Sp), Astana

Moinard Amaël (F), Cofidis

Erik Zabel (G), Milram

Roy Sentjens (B), Rabobank

Fumuyuki Beppu (Jpn), Discovery Channel

Leif Hoste (B), Discovery Channel

Benjamin Noval Gonzalez (Sp), Discovery Channel

Max Van Heeswijk (Nl), Discovery Channel

Claudio Corioni (I), Lampre

Paolo Fornaciari (I), Lampre

Clerc Aurélien (Swi), Phonak

Fabrizio Guidi (I), Phonak

Uros Murn (Slo), Phonak

Hugo Victor Hugo (Col), Phonak

Gregory Rast (Swi), Phonak

SchÄr Michael (Swi), Phonak

Florian Stalder (Swi), Phonak

Löwik Gerben (Nl), Rabobank

Antonio Juan Antonio (Sp), Rabobank

Simone Cadamuro (I), Milram

Alessandro Cortinovis (I), Milram

Enrico Poitschke (G), Milram

Marco Velo (I), Milram

Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe), CSC

Luke Roberts (Aus), CSC

Gutierrez José Ivan (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne-I.B.

Aleixei Markov (Rus), Caisse d'Epargne-I.B.

Francisco Perez Sanchez (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne-I.B.

Mathieu Perget (F), Caisse d'Epargne-I.B.

Nicolas Portal (F), Caisse d'Epargne-I.B.

Mikel Pradera (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne-I.B.

Vicente Reynes (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne-I.B.

Michael Boogerd (Nl), Rabobank

Eric Baumann (G), T-Mobile

Lorenzo Bernucci (I), T-Mobile

Ronny Scholz (G), Gerolsteiner

Dario Andriotto (I), Liquigas-Bianchi

Magnus Backstedt (Swe), Liquigas-Bianchi

Marco Righetto (I), Liquigas-Bianchi

Stefano Zanini (I), Liquigas-Bianchi

Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun), Credit Agricole

Alexandre Botcharov (Rus), Credit Agricole

Jimmy Engoulvent (F), Credit Agricole

Hinault Sébastien (F), Credit Agricole

Cyril Lemoine (F), Credit Agricole

Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

Kevin Hulsmans (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

Sebastien Rosseler (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

Wouter Weylandt (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

Sebastian Lang (G), Gerolsteiner

Sven Krauss (G), Gerolsteiner

Bas Giling (Nl), T-Mobile

Andre Greipel (G), T-Mobile

Korff André (G), T-Mobile

Daniele Nardello (I), T-Mobile

Stephan Schreck (G), T-Mobile

Cobo Acebo Juan Jose (Sp), Saunier Duval

Benitez José (Sp), Saunier Duval

Peter Mazur (Pol), Saunier Duval

Javier Meijas (Sp), Saunier Duval

Luciano Pagliarini (Bra), Saunier Duval

David Canada (Sp), Saunier Duval

Carlos Zarate (Sp), Saunier Duval

Ramos Fernandez De La Puebla (Sp), Saunier Duval

Rene Haselbacher (A), Gerolsteiner

Thierry Marichal (B), Cofidis