Road

Wednesday’s EuroFile: New look for Paris-Nice; Tirreno-Adriatico adds TT

Wide-open Paris-Nice routeHoping to live up to its name as the "Race to the Sun," Paris-Nice organizers revealed a 2006 route that skirts the snowy Massif Central and avoids summit finishes in an attempt to avoid course closures that have plagued recent editions. Instead - with seven stages and an opening prologue - the 2006 edition will drive down the Rhone Valley in search of good weather. Organizers from the Societe du Tour de France have also removed a long time trial to ensure what they hope will be a fight right to the finish. Following recent tradition, the course will open with a

By Andrew Hood

Wide-open Paris-Nice route
Hoping to live up to its name as the “Race to the Sun,” Paris-Nice organizers revealed a 2006 route that skirts the snowy Massif Central and avoids summit finishes in an attempt to avoid course closures that have plagued recent editions. Instead – with seven stages and an opening prologue – the 2006 edition will drive down the Rhone Valley in search of good weather. Organizers from the Societe du Tour de France have also removed a long time trial to ensure what they hope will be a fight right to the finish. Following recent tradition, the course will open with a 4.8km time trial at Issy-les-Moulineaux in the hilly Parisian suburbs. After a short transfer to the start of Stage 1 in Villemandeur, the course pushes south toward the Rhone Valley. Sprinters will have plenty of chances, with flat profiles in the opening two stages. Recent Tour of Qatar winner and reigning world champion Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Jaan Kirsipuu (Crédit Agricole) are already committed to racing. Gone is the decisive summit finish at Mont Faron, replaced by a foursome of hilly climbing stages well-suited for attacking-style racing. The 193km stage 3 from Juliénas to Saint-Etienne juts into the edges of the Massif Central, climbing the the Col de la Croix de Chaubeuret before plunging to the finish line. The route pushes further south and enters the hillier Vaucluse region with the 201.5km fifth stage from Avignon to Digne-les-Bains hitting the punchy Col du Corobin before a fast run to the line. The 179km sixth stage is a hilly rollercoaster on a run to the coast at Cannes while the Nice circuit course finale hitting the Col de la Porte and Col d’Eze before the traditional finish in Nice. All 20 ProTour teams have been invited as well as lone wild card French team Agritubel. Nice resident Bobby Julich (CSC) will be back to defend his title and he can expect to face tough competition from Floyd Landis (Phonak), Brad McGee (FDJeux), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) and Christophe Moreau (Ag2r). 2006 Paris-Nice (March 5-12) Prologue, March 5: Issy-les-Moulineaux, 4.8kmStage 1, March 6: Villemandeur to Saint-Amand-Montrond, 193kmStage 2, March 7: Cérilly to Belleville, 200kmStage 3, March 8: Juliénas to Saint-Etienne, 170kmStage 4, March 9: Saint-Etienne to Rasteau, 193kmStage 5, March 10: Avignon to Digne-les-Bains, 201,5kmStage 6, March 11: Digne-les-Bains to Cannes, 179kmStage 7, March 12: Nice-Nice, 135km Teams for Paris-Nice
AG2R
Agritubel (invited)
Bouygues Telecom
Cofidis
Crédit Agricole
FDJeux
Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears
Euskaltel-Euskadi
Rabobank
Liberty Seguros
Milram
Saunier Duval
Lampre
Liquigas
Gerolsteiner
T-Mobile
Davitamon-Lotto
Quick Step-Innergetic
Team CSC
Discovery Channel
Phonak
Tirreno-Adriatico adds TT
Just as Paris-Nice eliminated a long TT, Tirreno-Adriatico is bringing one back. A 20km time trial will highlight the 41st “Race of Two Seas” set for March 8-14. With a start in Tivoli on Italy’s west coast, a week of hilly, punchy stages are well-suited for sprinters and provide a key test ahead of Milan-San Remo. The test against the clock comes in stage 5 with the traditional finale in San Benedetto Del Tronto on the Adriatic coast. Like Paris-Nice, all 20 ProTour teams are along for the ride with Panaria earning the extra invite to round out the peloton. 41st Tirreno-Adriatico (March 8-14)
Stage 1, March 8: Tivoli-Tivoli, 167kmStage 2, March 9: Tivoli-Frascati, 171kmStage 3, March 10: Avezzano-Paglieta, 183kmStage 4, March 11: Paglieta-Civitanova Marche, 219kmStage 5, March 12: Servigliano time trial, 20kmStage 6, March 13: San Benedetto Del Tronto-San Giacomo, 164kmStage 7, March 14: Campli-San Benedetto Del Tronto, 166km Bettini wins in Spain
Olympic road champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step-Innergetic) grabbed his first win of the season after charging to victory in the fourth leg of the Mallorca Challenge on Wednesday. David Bernabéu (Comunidad Valenciana) retained the overall lead in the five-day series after finishing with Bettini and 2004 champ Toni Colom (Illes Balears) in the 150.6km between Sóller and Puerto de Sóller. Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) came through fourth at 25 seconds back. “After several good results finally the victory arrived, I knew that my condition was good but I didn’t expect me to ride so strongly,” Bettini said. “Considering how much I have suffered last year to the beginning of the season, this win has really a sweet taste. Next Tuesday I would like to race also a good Trofeo Laigueglia. With today’s victory I will surely take the start with good ambition.” Thursday’s finale is a 148.3km test between Magaluf and Palmanova, hitting three category two and two category three climbs. Napolitano wins in France
Danilo Napolitano (Lampre) won the opening stage of the Tour Mediterranean on Wednesday, edging Erik Zabel (Milram) to snag the win. Thursday’s second stage is split, with an 112km morning road stage between Berre-l’Etang-Mont and Mont Faron with an afternoon time trial, 18km in La Garde.