Millar takes Paris-Nice prologue

[nid:37731]Last year, David Millar underwent wind-tunnel testing for the first time and settled into a new, sleeker aerodynamic position that on paper should have made him faster. Instead, the Scot found he actually lost power — so this season he chucked the scientific posture and replaced it with his tried-and-true position, honed over years of trial and error.

By Andrew Hood

Millar hopes to take the jersey all the way to Nice

Millar hopes to take the jersey all the way to Nice

Photo: AFP

Millar's old time-trial position was good enough for victory

Millar’s old time-trial position was good enough for victory

Photo: Graham Watson

Last year, David Millar underwent wind-tunnel testing for the first time and settled into a new, sleeker aerodynamic position that on paper should have made him faster.

Instead, the Scot found he actually lost power — so this season he chucked the scientific posture and replaced it with his tried-and-true position, honed over years of trial and error.

In Sunday’s short but technical 4.7km prologue at the 65th Paris-Nice, the reformed Saunier Duval-Prodir rider scored a huge win in a tight race that saw 10 riders finish within five seconds of Millar’s winning time of 6 minutes, 1 second (46.869kph).

“The climb made it very technical but I’m very satisfied as this was my first objective this season,” a very happy Millar said.

Millar, who returned to racing last July after serving a two-year ban for admitting to using the banned blood booster EPO, took his first big win since last year’s emotional victory at the Vuelta a España time trial in Cuenca.

He ripped the course in Issy-les-Moulineux in the suburbs south of Paris near the headquarters of ASO, owners of Paris-Nice, the Tour de France and the French sports daily L’Equipe.

Stopping the clock just one second slower was Roman Kreuziger, a promising 20-year-old Czech rider on Liquigas, while Frenchman Sebastian Joly (Française des Jeux) was third at two seconds slower.

Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel) finished sixth at three seconds back while 2005 Paris-Nice overall champion and the winner of last year’s prologue, Bobby Julich (CSC) stopped the clock at six seconds slower for 11th.

Swiss rider Thomas Frei was the first of 160 riders out of the gate to officially start the 2007 ProTour calendar.

The eight-day Race to the Sun started with a sense of relief following a tumultuous month that nearly saw the major races split away from the UCI in a long-simmering spat over the ProTour format. Only a nine-hour marathon meeting between UCI officials and organizers of the major tours saved the day.

Joly slotted into third

Joly slotted into third

Photo: Graham Watson

Setting an early fast time was Kreuzinger, who won the world junior road championship at Verona in 2004 and took silver in the time trial. His early time of 6:02 looked to have legs as rider after rider failed to best the youngster.

Pre-race favorites Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) and Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel), a pair of young Spanish up-and-comers, each stopped the clock one second slower Kreuzinger to eventually finish fourth and fifth, respectively.

Other big guns such as Dave Zabriskie (CSC), 11 seconds slower than Millar, and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), nine seconds slower, couldn’t knock off the youngster.

It wasn’t until Millar – sporting his old-fashioned time-trialing position – came roaring through the finish area in 6:01.25 to knock the Liquigas rider out of the hot seat, snagging the win and the leader’s jersey.

Millar made no bones about his intention of trying to keep the jersey for the entire week. That might prove difficult with the sprinters champing at the bit, and at least two stages favoring their fast-twitch legs.

Still, the best-placed sprinter was Millar’s Saunier Duval teammate Francisco Ventoso, seventh at four seconds back, so perhaps the team can dream of playing hot potato with the yellow jersey.

“I will defend this jersey as long as I can and hopefully take it all the way to Nice. I have a great team around me, one of the very best in this race,” Millar said. “They might not be the most famous names in the bunch but they always ride in the front. They will be a very valuable asset.”

The win comes as a huge confidence-booster for Millar, who is putting everything into this season to recovering his position as one of the best and most feared riders against the clock.

“It was my first objective of the season and it’s great to achieve it. I’m very impressed with my performance,” Millar said. “Last year was very hard after two years without racing. It was tough physically and mentally. This year, the start of the season was my objective and I had told my friends I felt ready to win this.

“My main goal is to regain my spot atop the heap in time trials. The ideal scenario is to win the prologue at the Tour this year in London and then win the world’s.”

Paris-Nice continues Monday with the 186km first stage from Cloyes-sur-le-Loir to Buzançais across the rolling farm country south of Paris. The peloton will have to watch out for high winds, but otherwise it will likely come down to a bunch sprint.

[Watch Paris-Nice Video Highlight]

Prologue top 10

1. David Millar (GB), Saunier Duval, 4.7km in 6:01 (46.869 km/h)
2. Roman Kreuzinger (Cz), Liquigas, at 0:01
3. Sébastien Joly (F), Francaise des Jeux, at 0:02
4. Luis Sanchez (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, same time
5. Alberto Contador (Sp), Discovery Channel, s.t.
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery Channel, at 0:03
7. Francisco Ventoso (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 0:04
8. Reinbert Wielinga (Nl), Saunier Duval, s.t.
9. Thomas Lövkvist (Swe), Française des Jeux, s.t.
10. Joost Posthuma (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:05

Complete results

Photo Gallery



Prologue results

1. David Millar (GB), Saunier Duval, 4.7km in 6:01 (46.869 km/h)

2. Roman Kreuzinger (Cz), Liquigas, 00:01

3. Sébastien Joly (F), Francaise des Jeux, 00:02

4. Luis Sanchez (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, 00:02

5. Alberto Contador (Sp), Discovery Channel, 00:02

6. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery Channel, 00:03

7. Francisco Ventoso (Sp), Saunier Duval, 00:04

8. Reinbert Wielinga (Nl), Saunier Duval, 00:04

9. Thomas Lövkvist (Swe), Francaise des Jeux, 00:04

10. Joost Posthuma (Nl), Rabobank, 00:05

11. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, 00:06

12. Thomas Voeckler (F), Bouygues Telecom, 00:06

13. Daniele Bennati (I), Lampre, 00:06

14. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas, 00:06

15. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerolsteiner, 00:07

16. Gert Steegmans (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, 00:07

17. Cadel Evans (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, 00:08

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

19. Rémi Pauriol (F), Credit Agricole, 00:08

20. Jérôme Pineau (F), Bouygues Telecom, 00:08

21. Luke Roberts (Aus), CSC, 00:09

22. Sylvain Chavanel (F), Cofidis, 00:09

23. Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 00:09

24. Tadej Valjavec (Slo), Lampre, 00:09

25. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (B), Predictor-Lotto, 00:09

26. Francisco Perez Sanchez (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, 00:09

27. Vicente Reynes (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, 00:10

28. Aitor Perez Arrieta (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, 00:10

29. Maxime Monfort (B), Cofidis, 00:10

30. Jesus Del Nero (Sp), Saunier Duval, 00:10

31. Sandy Casar (F), Francaise des Jeux, 00:10

32. Samuel Dumoulin (F), Ag2r Prevoyance, 00:10

33. Igor Astarloa (Sp), Milram, 00:10

34. Joaquim Rodriguez (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, 00:10

35. Didier Rous (F), Bouygues Telecom, 00:10

36. Murilo Fischer (BRA), Liquigas, 00:11

37. Mikel Astarloza (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 00:11

38. Simon Gerrans (Aus), Ag2r Prevoyance, 00:11

39. Stijn Devolder (B), Discovery Channel, 00:11

40. David Zabriskie (USA), CSC, 00:11

41. Kévin Van Impe (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, 00:11

42. Andoni Aranaga (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 00:11

43. Tom Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel, 00:11

44. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr), Discovery Channel, 00:11

45. Sebastien Rosseler (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, 00:12

46. Andy Schleck (Lux), CSC, 00:12

47. Alexandre Botcharov (Rus), Credit Agricole, 00:12

48. Mirco Lorenzetto (I), Milram, 00:12

49. Brett Lancaster (Aus), Milram, 00:12

50. Cyril Dessel (F), Ag2r Prevoyance, 00:12

51. Patxi Vila Errandonea (Sp), Lampre, 00:13

52. Patrik Sinkewitz (G), T-Mobile, 00:13

53. Sergio Paulinho (P), Discovery Channel, 00:13

54. Tyler Farrar (USA), Cofidis, 00:14

55. Markel Irizar (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 00:14

56. Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, 00:14

57. Alessandro Vanotti (I), Liquigas, 00:14

58. Vicente Garcia Acosta (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, 00:15

59. Ruben Perez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 00:15

60. Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr), Ag2r Prevoyance, 00:15

61. Tomas Vaitkus (Lit), Discovery Channel, 00:15

62. Gregory Henderson (NZl), T-Mobile, 00:15

63. Nicolas Vogondy (F), Agritubel, 00:15

64. Matthieu Ladagnous (F), Francaise des Jeux, 00:15

65. William Bonnet (F), Credit Agricole, 00:16

66. Gorka Verdugo (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 00:16

67. Amael Moinard (F), Cofidis, 00:16

68. Pierrick Fedrigo (F), Bouygues Telecom, 00:16

69. Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz), Astana, 00:16

70. Christopher Horner (USA), Predictor-Lotto, 00:16

71. Kai Reus (Nl), Rabobank, 00:17

72. Alan Perez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 00:17

73. Josep Jufre Pou (Sp), Predictor-Lotto, 00:17

74. Christian Vande Velde (USA), CSC, 00:17

75. Frank Schleck (Lux), CSC, 00:17

76. Pieter Weening (Nl), Rabobank, 00:17

77. Jurgen Van De Walle (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, 00:17

78. Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz), Credit Agricole, 00:17

79. Sebastian Siedler (G), Milram, 00:17

80. Iker Camano (Sp), Saunier Duval, 00:18

81. Laurent Lefevre (F), Bouygues Telecom, 00:18

82. Alberto Fernandez (Sp), Saunier Duval, 00:18

83. Nicolas Jalabert (F), Agritubel, 00:18

84. Romain Feillu (F), Agritubel, 00:18

84. Xavier Florencio (Sp), Bouygues Telecom, 00:18

86. Aaron Kemps (Aus), Astana, 00:18

87. Matteo Tosatto (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, 00:19

88. Nicolas Portal (F), Caisse d’Epargne, 00:19

89. Patrick Calcagni (Swi), Liquigas, 00:19

90. Antonio Juan Antonio (Sp), Rabobank, 00:19

91. Pietro Caucchioli (I), Credit Agricole, 00:20

92. David Loosli (Swi), Lampre, 00:20

93. Johan Van Summeren (B), Predictor-Lotto, 00:20

94. Bert Roesems (B), Predictor-Lotto, 00:21

95. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Rabobank, 00:21

96. Steven De Jongh (Nl), Quick Step-Innergetic, 00:21

97. David Lopez Garcia (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, 00:21

98. Björn Schröder (G), Milram, 00:21

99. Jean-Patrick Nazon (F), Ag2r Prevoyance, 00:22

100. Daniele Righi (I), Lampre, 00:22

101. Matej Mugerli (Slo), Liquigas, 00:22

102. Yoann Le Boulanger (F), Bouygues Telecom, 00:22

103. Aivaras Baranauskas (Lit), Agritubel, 00:22

104. Roger Hammond (GB), T-Mobile, 00:22

105. Koos Moerenhout (Nl), Rabobank, 00:22

106. Alberto Ongarato (I), Milram, 00:22

107. Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr), Liquigas, 00:22

108. Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz), Astana, 00:23

109. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus), CSC, 00:23

110. Bert Grabsch (G), T-Mobile, 00:23

111. Steve Zampieri (Swi), Cofidis, 00:23

112. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, 00:24

113. Frédéric Bessy (F), Cofidis, 00:24

114. Thomas Frei (Swi), Astana, 00:24

115. Stéphane Auge (F), Cofidis, 00:24

116. Luca Paolini (I), Liquigas, 00:25

117. Sylvain Calzati (F), Ag2r Prevoyance, 00:25

118. Thomas Fothen (G), Gerolsteiner, 00:25

119. Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (F), Cofidis, 00:25

120. Hubert Dupont (F), Ag2r Prevoyance, 00:26

121. Claudio Corioni (I), Lampre, 00:26

122. Fabio Baldato (I), Lampre, 00:26

123. Heinrich Haussler (G), Gerolsteiner, 00:26

124. Anthony Charteau (F), Credit Agricole, 00:26

125. Axel Merckx (B), T-Mobile, 00:26

126. Matthew White (Aus), Discovery Channel, 00:26

127. Freddy Bichot (F), Agritubel, 00:27

128. Matthias Russ (G), Gerolsteiner, 00:27

129. Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus), Astana, 00:27

130. Igor Abakoumov (B), Astana, 00:27

131. Angelo Furlan (I), Credit Agricole, 00:27

132. Jakob Piil (Dk), T-Mobile, 00:27

133. Antonio Jose Antonio (Sp), Astana, 00:28

134. Mikel Gaztanaga (Sp), Agritubel, 00:28

135. Mario Aerts (B), Predictor-Lotto, 00:28

136. Michael Barry Can), T-Mobile, 00:28

137. Nicolas Crosbie (F), Bouygues Telecom, 00:28

138. Marcus Burghardt (G), T-Mobile, 00:28

139. Christophe Laurent (F), Credit Agricole, 00:29

140. Iban Mayo (Sp), Saunier Duval, 00:29

141. Thorwald Veneberg (Nl), Rabobank, 00:29

142. Thierry Marichal (B), Francaise des Jeux, 00:31

143. Benoít Vaugrenard (F), Francaise des Jeux, 00:31

144. Volker Ordowski (G), Gerolsteiner, 00:31

145. Roy Sentjens (B), Predictor-Lotto, 00:31

146. Wilfried Cretskens (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, 00:31

147. Luis Jose Luis (Sp), Ag2r Prevoyance, 00:31

148. Martin Müller (G), Milram, 00:31

148. Gerben Löwik (Nl), Rabobank, 00:31

150. Massimiliano Mori (I), Lampre, 00:32

151. Christophe Rinero (F), Saunier Duval, 00:32

152. Markus Zberg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, 00:32

153. Kasper Klostergaard (Dk), CSC, 00:33

154. Bernhard Kohl (A), Gerolsteiner, 00:33

155. Christophe Detilloux (B), Francaise des Jeux, 00:34

156. Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (Sp), Agritubel, 00:34

157. Benoit Joachim (Lux), Astana, 00:37

158. Ivan Velasco (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 00:37

159. Ralf Grabsch (G), Milram, 00:38

160. Benoit Salmon (F), Agritubel, 00:46