Pic by Chris Sidwells – www.chrissidwells.com
With less than two weeks to the departure from the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, the 2008 London Paris Cycle Tour is set to be the most challenging yet, with a total of nine teams competing for the climber’s, points and leader’s jerseys, four groups on the road and an all-new route that includes part of the Tour de France 2007 route through Kent, the pave of Flanders and a finish beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
As with last year’s edition, the three days of riding cover a total of some 600km and, for the competitive Group One, encompass special sprints, ‘King of the Mountains’ climbs and road race stages of around 20km, the latter deciding the yellow Leader’s jersey won last year by former Rabobank amateur team rider Jerone Walters. And for the first time, there’s a women’s competiton for riders such as Emma Davies and Jenny Fay.
Guaranteeing to make the racing harder this year are the nine ‘trade’ teams, including the AltioLive-Science in Sport outfit of Brian Smith, Tim Lawson, Pete Slater, Geoff Thomas and former Continental pro Max Sciandri. There are corporate teams from Disney and pro team sponsors CSC, the latter with RCUK member Stephen Chmiewliski on the roster, while double Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell teams up with rising star of women’s racing Elaine Sargeant in Team Trainsmart. RCUK columnist David Harmon will be concentrating on providing a flawless leadout for 2007 Points Jersey winner Ant Shippard, while the other two jersey winners from last year, Jerone Walters and climber Michael Blann, will be teaming up with Sigma Sport’s Ian Whittingham.
This year’s sponsors include clothing manufacturer Adidas, sports nutrition specialists Science in Sport and Subaru, who will be providing event support vehicles. With closed roads on French soil, motorcycle outriders keeping the roads clear and full mechanical backup, the event will be fast, furious and hotly contested at the head and an enjoyable challenge for those who choose not to ride in Group One. And, to add to the appeal for RCUK readers, not only will The Pheasant be attempting to sneak into a break or two, but Adam Tranter is writing up each day’s riding for the London Paris website. Watch this space for more…