By Agence France Presse
Six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong opens his 2005 campaign in Paris-Nice on Sunday when professional cycling enters a new era – that of the 20-team, 27-race ProTour.
This will be Armstrong’s first start in Paris-Nice since 1999, when he used the race as a training run on the way to returning to Paris in July as winner of his first Tour. He finished second to Laurent Jalabert in 1996 when riding for Motorola and won a stage in 1995.
Armstrong’s Discovery Channel line-up includes Viatcheslav Ekimov, Yaroslav Popovych and Paolo Savoldelli, the 2002 Giro d’Italia winner, who has recovered from breaking his collarbone in a training crash.
The much-changed Swiss team Phonak, which had to go to court to be included in the ProTour after a series of doping cases involving U.S. Olympic time-trial champion Tyler Hamilton, Spain’s Santiago Perez and 1998 world champion Oscar Camenzind, will be looking to rebuild.
Phonak’s team includes South African Robert Hunter, France’s Nicolas Jalabert, American Floyd Landis, Spain’s Oscar Pereiro and Colombia’s Victor Hugo Pena.
Paris-Nice is known as the Race to the Sun, but a late bout of winter weather has left most of France under a carpet of snow, and more bad weather is expected for next week.
Sacchi speeds to win in Milan-Turin
Fabio Sacchi (Fassa Bortolo) won the 90th edition of Milan-Turin on Saturday.
The 30-year-old Milan-born sprinter came in first ahead of 2003 winner Mirko Celestino. Paolo Tiralongo (Panaria) was third to complete an Italian sweep of the 199km classic.
The 90th Milan-Turin
1. Fabio Sacchi (I), Fassa Bortolo, 199km in 4:47:41 (41.500 km/h)
2. Mirko Celestino (I), Domina Vacanze, s.t.
3. Paolo Tiralongo (I), Ceramica Panaria, s.t.
4. Emanuele Sella (I), Ceramica Panaria, s.t.
5. Danilo Di Luca (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, s.t.
6. Vincenzo Nibali (I), Fassa Bortolo, s.t.
7. Andrea Noe (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, s.t.
8. Roberto Petito (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 0:07
9. Luca Mazzanti (I), Ceramica Panaria, s.t.
10. Przemyslaw Niemec (Pol), Miche, at 0:16
Snow erases a second Flanders stage
Stage 2 of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen met the fate of Stage 1 on Saturday – it, too, was canceled due to snow.
“Considering the snow which fell Saturday morning, we decided, in agreement with the UCI, to cancel the second stage completely,” race director Eric Mortele told the Belga agency.
“We will see tomorrow (Sunday) if it will be possible to dispute the third and last stage, Ichtegem-Ichtegem (182km).”
Five ProTour teams – Davitamon, Quick Step, CSC, Cofidis and Discovery Channel – had been registered for the first stage race of the season in Belgium.