With some pretty impressive sprinting against some strong opposition,Tom Boonen won the first two stages of Paris-Nice – his eighth and ninth wins this season.
The Paris-Nice kicked off on Sunday with a Prologue, defending champion Bobby Julich was the winner over a 4.8km test.
After a bunch sprint on Monday’s stage to Saint-Amand-Montrond the Belgian rider showed top form, and perhaps a sign of things to come for the rest of the spring classics and perhaps the overall Pro-Tour 2006. After stage 1, Great Britain’s Bradley Wiggins, (Cofidis le Credit par Telephone) was placed well in 7th and Roger Hammond (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team) was sitting in 123rd place in the General Classification.
Julich finished in 48th place on Monday, positioning him second to Boonen in the general classifications with seven seconds between them. After Tuesday’s stage “Bobby J” is now 17 seconds in arrears as he rolled in with the bunch.
Tuseday’s stage to Belleville (wonder if anyone had a rendez-vous?) was unlucky for Bradley Wiggins as he had a crash. He still managed to get up and finish, so hopefully the damage isn’t too bad. He has slipped to 118th overall and is now 1’35″ behind Boonen. Roger Hammond is improving and managed 14th in a big bunch gallop that was only going to have one winner, he moves into the top 100 in 98th place. However Boonen being the 6 foot 3 inches tall and 80kg+ will probably suffer for the next couple of days as the race heads into the hills.
Paris-Nice has been a spectacular annual event since the 1930’s and sees a range of international cycling talent put through their paces in a testing range of stages finishing up in Nice. Hence it usually gets called “The Race to The Sun”. We could do with one of those here…
Paris-Nice website follow the stages live.