Gaudin wins prologue of 2013 Paris-Nice
Damien Gaudin (Europcar) has won the Paris-Nice prologue. Gaudin blazed over the flat, technical, 2.9-km course in Houilles, France in 3:37, pipping Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) by 0:01 and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) by the same margin.
The Frenchman will wear the race's first yellow jersey during tomorrow's Stage 1.
The riders raced in sunny, cold conditions. Borut Bozic (Astana) took the early lead before Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took over with a 3:40. Geoffrey Soupe (Francaise des Jeux) snatched the lead from the Slovakian by 0:01, only to see Wilco Kelderman (Blanco) take the lead by a fraction of a second. Kelderman led for about half an hour until Chavanel, the French time trial champion, crossed the finish line 1.4 seconds ahead of Kelderman.
Chavanel and Omega Pharma-Quick Step did not rejoice long. Less than two minutes after Chavanel finished, Gaudin eclipsed his compatriot's time by 1.4 seconds. At this point, only a handful of riders remained on the course to battle for the day's honors.
Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) had hoped to position himself well in the overall, but he could do no better than 59th at 0:10. Westra took a shot at the win but was 0:01 too slow.
The win was Gaudin's first professional victory. Aside from being elated, the Frenchman was aware that he had taken risks to win by a hair's breadth. “Today was the first time I ever took so many risks in a race, and I think I needed to,” Gaudin said. “Chavanel was only a few hundredths of a second behind, I think, so if I’d braked any more I wouldn’t have won. It still hasn’t sunk in, it’s just a lovely surprise.”
In the overall, Gaudin leads Chavanel and Westra by 0:01. Stage 1, a 195-km run from Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Nemours, will be another flat stage. A sprinter should win it. Who will it be? Will Gaudin keep his overall Paris-Nice lead? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!