Events

Piil survives lengthy break to win Paris-Tours

Jakob Piil took his most important victory of his career while Paolo Bettini widened his overall World Cup series lead to nine points over rival Johan Museeuw in Sunday's Paris-Tours race. Piil, a 29-year-old Danish rider on the CSC-Tiscali team, was the worthy winner over Frenchman Jacky Durand, who played rope-a-dope over the final 10km in the 253-km World Cup race on a sunny, brisk autumn day in France. Durand refused to take a pull after the pair dropped two riders from an original five-man break that attacked with just 5 km in the monster 252-km race. Durand, who won Paris-Tours in

By Andrew Hood

Photo: AFP

Jakob Piil took his most important victory of his career while Paolo Bettini widened his overall World Cup series lead to nine points over rival Johan Museeuw in Sunday’s Paris-Tours race.

Piil, a 29-year-old Danish rider on the CSC-Tiscali team, was the worthy winner over Frenchman Jacky Durand, who played rope-a-dope over the final 10km in the 253-km World Cup race on a sunny, brisk autumn day in France.

Durand refused to take a pull after the pair dropped two riders from an original five-man break that attacked with just 5 km in the monster 252-km race. Durand, who won Paris-Tours in 1998, attacked Piil in the final 500 meters, but Piil had enough left to edge “Dudu” to give CSC-Tiscali its second World Cup victory this year.

Bettini, an Italian rider on the Mapei team, took seven more points to widen his World Cup lead to 279 points over Museeuw’s 270 points with just one World Cup event remaining. Saeco’s Igor Astarloa finished seventh to move up to 180 points, putting him at 99 points behind Bettini and giving him a slim hope of playing spoiler in the final race at Giro di Lombardia on Oct. 19.

Paris-Tours was hyped as the “sprinters World Cup,” but the five-man break ruined the script for a field that included a list of favorites for the road cycling world championships next weekend in Zolder, Belgium.

Piil and Durand were joined by Glenn d’Hollander (Lotto), Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto.com) and Samuel Dumoulin (Jean Delatour) in the early move. Pushed by strong tailwinds, the quintet’s lead grew to more than nine minutes.

Mancebo dropped with 30 km to go while Fassa Bortolo and Telekom trimmed the lead down to four minutes.

Italians Michele Bartoli and Alessandro Petacchi (both with Fassa Bortolo) chased off the front of the main bunch going up final short climb with 4.7 km to go. Museeuw bridged out but the trio was reeled in as the main bunch came in just seconds behind Piil and Durand.

Italian Mario Cipollini, German Erik Zabel, Spaniard Oscar Freire and Australian Robbie McEwen could only watch Piil and Durand fight it out for the victory. Telekom’s Zabel squirted out to take the main bunch sprint to finish third at Paris-Tours for the second consecutive year, but many of the favorites for Zolder, namely Cipollini and McEwen didn’t seem too interested in fighting for leftovers.

A crash marred the race midway through what was otherwise a fabulous day in central France as the race wound through the rolling farmland south of Paris toward Tours. Frank Vandenbroucke (Domo) and Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) both abandoned.

Piil’s CSC-Tiscali teammate Laurent Jalabert, winner of the Clasica San Sebastian back in August, was competing in the last French race of his career. Jalabert will retire following next weekend’s world championships.

Results

1. Jakob Piil (Dan/ CSC) 257 km in 5:39:11 (45.462 kph)

2. Jacky Durand (Fra) s.t.

3. Erik Zabel (G) , at 20.

4. RenŽ Haselbacher (Aut)

5. Romans Vainsteins (Lat)

6. JosŽ Enrique Gutierrez (Esp)

7. Igor Astarloa (Esp)

8. Jo Planckaert (B)

9. Fabio Sacchi (Ita)

10. Julian Dean (NZL)

11. Oscar Freire (Esp)

12. Franck Renier (Fra)

13. Stuart O’Grady (Aus)

14. Tristan Hoffman (Nl)

15. Richard Virenque (Fra)

16. AurŽlien Clerc (Swi)

17. Nico Eeckhout (B)

18. Gerrit Glomser (Aut)

19. Paolo Bettini (Ita)

20. Antonio Cruz (USA)

21. Jimmy Casper (Fra), all s.t.

Others

27. Robbie McEwen (Aus) , at 20.

28. Thor Hushovd (Nor)

30. Laurent Brochard (Fra)

35. Mario Cipollini (Ita)

37. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est)

40. Baden Cooke (Aus)

65. Dario Frigo (Ita)

87. CŽdric Vasseur (Fra)

91. Laurent Jalabert (Fra)

92. Johan Museeuw (B), all s.t.

107. Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) , at 1:18.

117. Bradley McGee (Aus) 1:18.

World Cup Standings

1. Paolo Bettini (Ita) 279 pts

2. Johan Museeuw (B) 270

3. Igor Astarloa (Esp) 180

4. Michele Bartoli (Ita) 142

5. Dario Frigo (Ita) 136

6. George Hincapie (USA) 124

7. Peter Van Petegem (B) 121

8. Oscar Freire (Esp) 111

9. Davide Rebellin (Ita) 109

10. Jo Planckaert (B) 107