March 8/07 9:36 am - Barry to Paris-Nice
Posted by Editoress on 03/8/07
Barry to Paris-Nice
Report from T-Mobile:
Patrik Sinkewitz spearheads the T-Mobile Team roster at Paris-Nice (March 11 to 18), the so-called 'race to the sun' that opens the ProTour season. "It's very early in the cycling season, but Patrik is already in good form. He is our man for the overall", says Rolf Aldag, the T-Mobile Team sporting director.
The eight-day stage race kicks-off this year with a 4.7 km prologue in Issyles- Moulineaux on the southern outskirts of Paris on Sunday, and ends with its traditional finish on the 'Promenade des Anglais' waterfront in Nice a week later.
Aldag: "Patrik has been on the track in recent days to test and improve his time trial position, so he should be well prepared for the prologue opener." The 26-year-old Sinkewitz will have the support of seven team mates on the 1260 km north-south trek through France. The in-form Roger Hammond arrives fresh off a strong performance in the 'Le Samyn' oneday race on Wednesday, where he was unlucky to just miss the podium. And the New Zealand sprint specialist Greg Henderson is fit again after recovering from a light cold - and he will be gunning for stage wins on the first three typical sprinters' stages.
While time trial specialist Bert Grabsch will focus heavily on a good result in the opening prologue, Axel Merckx, Jakob Piil, Michael Barry, Hammond and youngster Marcus Burghardt will provide the support for captain 'Sinki', and seek opportunities to get away in breaks. "We are bringing a motivated team, and each of these riders have already shown good form in their races so far this season," says Aldag.
This year, the race will take a new turn as the peloton will pass France's central mountain range, using the Central Massif on its western side instead of heading straight towards the CÃ´te d'Azur on the eastern side. After the first three sprinters' stages, the second part of the week will offer opportunities for breakaways and climbers.
The first decisive climb will be up to the airport of Mende on stage four, which has been re-named 'MontÃ©e Laurent Jalabert' since the Frenchman won a Tour de France stage there in 1995. The final stage, which takes the peloton through the hinterland of Nice also includes its share of tough climbs - and the GC could go all the way to the wire.
20 teams will start the event: all ProTour teams, except Swedish-Belgian outfit Unibet.com, as well as French Pro Continental squad Agritubel. Among the pre-race favourites are the Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel), 2005 Paris-Nice winner Bobby Julich (CSC) and Australian stage race specialist Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto).
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) also starts and the big Belgian is likely to be a real force in the sprinters' stages. (gl) The T-Mobile roster:
Michael Barry (31/Canada)
Marcus Burghardt (23/Germany)
Bert Grabsch (31/Germany)
Roger Hammond (33/Great Britain)
Greg Henderson (30/New Zealand)
Axel Merckx (34/Belgium)
Jakob Piil (33/Denmark)
Patrik Sinkewitz (26/Germany)
Sporting directors: Brian Holm (44/Denmark) and Allan Peiper (46/Australia)
Prologue - Sunday, March 11: Issy-les-Moulineaux, ITT, 4.7 km
Stage 1 - Monday, March 12: Cloyes-sur-le-Loir - BuzanÃ§ais, 186 km
Stage 2 - Tuesday, March 13: Vatan - Limoges, 177 km
Stage 3 - Wednesday, March 14: Limoges - Maurs, 215.5 km
Stage 4 - Thursday, March 15: Maurs - Mende, 169.5 km
Stage 5 - Friday, March 16: Sorgues - Manosque, 178 km
Stage 6 - Saturday, March 17: Brignoles - Cannes, 200 km
Stage 7 - Sunday, March 18: Nice - Nice, 129.5 km
Total: 1260 km