Julich Wins Paris-Nice Prologue
Bobby Julich (CSC) has begun his defense of his Paris-Nice championship with a bang. The American powered over the 4.8-km prologue at Issy-les-Moulineaux to win the event in 6:07. Andrei Kaschechkin (Liberty Seguros) finished second at 0:01, and Bradley McGee (Francaise des Jeux) took third at 0:02.
Kashechkin set the early standard with a 6:08. The time held up for an hour and a half, and when riders such as McGee and David Zabriskie (CSC) could not better the Kazakh?s time (or in some cases, finish near it), Kashechkin began to look like a winner. Julich, however, was the last rider to start.
Julich had a simple explanation for his victory. ?I simply had killer legs today,? he said. ?The route suited me perfectly, and I really had the feeling that I was fast. It was a special feeling to start as the last one and be able to keep everyone behind me. It's always a great feeling to win and it's quite a good statistic to kick off my European season: one start ? one win! I'm probably in better shape than I realized myself so now we'll have to see what the race brings. Quick Step isn't far behind with Boonen and they'll likely go for the jersey now, which is just fine by me. We'll take it one day at a time without wearing the team down completely. I don't think the race will be decided until the mountains in the Nice area and if my legs are as good as they were today anything is possible.?
?Technically, he was in a class of his own. There's no doubt he's in excellent shape even though he hasn't peaked yet -- which makes it all the more impressive. Of course, we'll try and defend the jersey, but I think there will be other teams with similar interests. There are three fairly flat stages before the race moves uphill and here the other teams will have to get out there and attack us in order to be a threat. From that point of view we're in a dream position.?
CSC directeur sportif Bjarne Riis agreed with Julich. ?Bobby did a fantastic prologue,? Riis said.
Stage 1 will be the first test for Julich and for CSC. The rolling, 193-km ride from Villlemandeur to St-Amand-Montrand ends with several stiff climbs. The stage appears to be one in which a small group could escape to fight for the stage win. Who will be in the group? Tom Boonen (CSC)? Julich? Floyd Landis (Phonak)? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out! Be sure to cast your vote in the Paris-Nice winner poll in our forums.