By VeloNews Interactive Wire ServicesCopyright AFP 2001
Belgian rider Nico Mattan (Cofidis) won the Paris-Nice cycling prologue over 6.2km through the streets of Nevers on March 11. The 29-year-old came in ahead of British teammate David Millar (at 0:08), with France’s Florent Brard in third, a further second behind during the stage made difficult by persistent rain. Mercury-Viatel’s Peter van Petegem finished fifth and Floyd Landis 11th.
Defending champion Andreas Kloden of Germany, who shot into the limelight with his surprise win last year, but who has had recent health problems, was 24 seconds behind the leader.
Paris-Nice, under the directorship of two-time Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon, started with a record-breaking 23 teams. This year’s event, which does not have the famous Mont Ventoux climb, is expected to provide an open, attacking affair. “Everything’s been done to provide an exciting event,” said Fignon.
In today’s soggy ride, Frenchman Laurent Brochard, was 12 seconds behind Mattan – and Brochard is well aware of the value of a handful of seconds. He lost last year’s title by only seven seconds.
American Bobby Julich suffered from a puncture, which put him 51 seconds off the winning pace. 1993 winner Alex Zulle, who is among the race favorites, finished 55th for the day.
Next Saturday’s time trial may give the specialists the chance to recoup time they may have conceded in the hilly stages near Saint-Etienne, Sisteron or St Raphael during the week.
Copyright AFP 2001
PARIS-NICE, France. March 11-18.
Prologue, Nevers. March 11:; 1. Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis, 6.2km in 7:48; 2. David Millar (GB) at 0:08; 3. Florent Brard (Fra) at 0:09; 4. Philippe Gaumont (Fra) at 0:09; 5. Peter Van Petegem (Bel) at 0:11; 6. Laurent Brochard (Fra) at 0:12; 7. Jorg Jaksche (Ger); 8. Frederic Finot (Fra) both s.t.; 9. Stuart O’Grady (Aus) at 0:13; 10. Thor Hushovd (Nor) at 0:15; 11. Floyd Landis (USA) at 0:16; 12. Raimondas Rumsas (Lit) at 0:16; 13. Eddy Seigneur (Fra) at 0:17; 14. Didier Rous (Fra) at 0:19; 15. Patrice Halgand (Fra) at 0:20; 16. Emmanuel Magnien (Fra) at 0:20; 17. Frederic Bessy (Fra) at 0:20; 18. Dario Frigo (Ita) at 0:21; 19. Stephane Heulot (Fra) at 0:21; 20. Alberto Martinez (Spa) at 0:21;
Others:; 27. Andreas Kloden (Ger) at 0:24; 40. Andrei Tchmil (Bel) at 0:28; 46. Axel Merckx (Bel) at 0:31; 55. Alex Zulle (Swi) at 0:32; 135. Bobby Julich (USA) at 0:51.