Velominati Super Prestige: Paris-Tours

Rider on the storm. Ree-chaard goes solo, 2001. Pic: Cor Vos/Pez

Just a week after contesting one of the most brutal, exciting one-day races of the year, a bevy of battered, tired bodies make their way back to Europe for the penultimate round of the inaugural Velominati Super Prestige series. As if the heat and gruelling course of Geelong wasn’t sapping enough, the 20-odd hour flight and ensuing jetlag will no doubt take a toll on the big-hitters who will be backing up for a shot of victory on the Avenue de Grammont on Sunday.

Often thought of as a sprinters race, the last decade has seen more breakaways succeed than bunch gallops. And there have been some heroic rides from some of the biggest names of the peloton, some you’d expect to try their hand at an all-day solo mission or late escape, others not so much.

It was with some surprise that I remember waking to the news that Richard Virenque, more noted for his top-fueled climbing feats in Le Tour, had stayed away with countryman and crazy-escape artist Jacky Durand for 230km and held off a hard-charging peloton for the win in 2001. It was somewhat of a redemption for Ree-chaard, after a tumultuous few years post-Festina, and helped re-launch his career and didn’t hurt to restore some idolatry, if not credibility, with the French cycling fans and public. It was an impressive ride in anyone’s books, love him or hate him, fueled or not (obviously ‘not’ probably doesn’t equate).

2004 saw one of the Velominati’s favourite riders, Erik Dekker hold off the pack with repeated attacks from a select group, finally dragging Matthias Kessler to the line before leaving him to be engulfed as he found a deep reserve of The V and made it look almost easy as he cruised across the line ahead of the baying sprinters. It was pure guts and probably the ride that Dekker will most be remembered for, even outstripping his stage wins at Le Tour.


Of course the last two editions have belonged to the late-season specialist Phillipe Gilbert, and he will be a heavily marked man in this year’s race. Did he spend all his bikkies last weekend? Will Boonen be a factor as he comes back from injury, and look for revenge for last year? Or can Pozzato step up and salvage some Italian pride, dented yet again in the race for the rainbow?

As always, check out the start list, look deep into your heart, use your head, and pony up your tips to be in the running to win an Obey The Rules bumper sticker. The race for the overall VSP  is tipping slightly in favour of Andy, who is hanging out front a la Dekker as the pack closes in on him, with Geof, John and Steampunk looking for a wheel and ready to pounce, in the quest for the coveted Velominati Shop Apron. There is no finer prize in cycling tipping competitions.

Check out the rules and scoring here, and good luck.

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40 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: Paris-Tours”

  1. 1) Juan “the arrow” Flecha – Sky have had such a crap season that I can’t imagine their team orders will be anything but attack, attack, attack.
    2) Peter Sagan – I like this kid, he’s rapid
    3) Tomeke – this will be a good comeback race for him. I hope
    4) Pip – because I don’t think I’ve picked pip for anything this year and he’s my favourite rider
    5) Romain Feillu – token french guy

  2. Virenque’s breakaway partner during his win in ’01 had won Paris-Tours himself in a solo break in 1998 – amazingly Jacky Durand was the first French winner in 42 years!

  3. 1. Gilbert
    2. Eisel
    3. Breschel
    4. Ballan
    5. Freierereireir

    Merckx, I’m glad Cav’s not in this one as this may be his only mention. Nice to see Tommeke stretching his legs again but he’s not in form. Pipo is pipped but Gilbert is a hard enough to keep going and pull the trippel.

  4. 1. Chavanel (emotional, career-capping ride)
    2. Gilbert (who will probably win after his disappointment last week, but who can deny Chav?)
    3. Breschel (this is a guy I really want to like, but he always manages to come up just short)
    4. Pozzato (finished too strong in Oz; more gas in the tank and poor management of his resources?)
    5. Sagan (new generation makes an appearance)

    Frankly, I’m terrible at visualizing the finish, but picking guys in form who should finish strong.

  5. The chances of the following finish happening are 1,000,000 to 1 against, but nevertheless ….

    1. Gilbert (making up for last week)
    2. Chav (TdF stage winning form returns …)
    3. Pozzato (looked strong last week)
    4. Flecha (Breakaway specialist, could suit him)
    5. Tommy V (Heart says maybe though head says he’s not in form)

  6. Chavanel is French for Cavendish, but classy-like. And without the top end speed. And not so much a sprinter. And older. And, really, both names just have c’s, a’s, v’s, n’s, and e’s. But, otherwise, the analogy is airtight.

  7. OK, my wife is from Tours, so I’ll dip a toe is the VSP waters.

    1. Feillu
    2. Chavanel
    3. Pozzato
    4. Gilbert
    5. Boonen

  8. Pozzato

    But my true money is on a wildcard breakaway from the pack with a long, long way to go… but, as has been outlined above, these are the guys in form. And I thought Pozzato looks the most dangerous (and noone else has picked him for the win yet)

  9. How the fuck did Tricky Dicky hold off the peloton in ’01? Oh yeah, of course…”ma vérité”

  10. Let the guessing begin! This race is the opposite of Lombardi but I’m hoping it won’t end up in a sprint. Who still has any form? Or energy? I’m done with the Italians, almost.
    1. Gilbert(he is a strong-man, no?)
    2. Mikhail Ignatiev
    3. Johan Van Summeren(I keep picking him and I keep getting burned)
    4. Wouter Weylandt (now I’m completely guessing)
    5. Alessandro Ballan(he has to place somewhere, eventually, yes?)

  11. 1 Potato – Holding off the bunch, just to prove he can still do it
    2 Tomeke – He’s been second a few times already – why not do it again?
    3 Friere Jaques – He stayed with the best and had the bunch not raced against Spain at the Worlds, he might have won his Fourth
    4 Bennati – who gives a shit at this point in a bunch sprint?
    5 Eisel – refer to number four.

    McEwen. Classic choice. I can’t decide if it’s ballsy, funny as shit, or idiotic that he named his kid “Ewen” when his last name is “McEwen”. No matter which of the three it is, it’s certainly brilliant.

  12. @frank
    Never doubt the power of the little bogan. He has been training hard and has a point to prove regarding his world champs non-selection. If it comes to a sprint I reckon he will be right in there.

  13. Just watching the commonwealth games road race. Flat course, 35 degrees Celsius racing in the middle of Delhi. Doesn’t look like much fun. The Douche racing for the Isle of Man without much help.

  14. Eisel

    In my defence, I have just got home from Disneyland. No one can be expected to make sense so soon after that.

  15. Razzum frazzum I swear I posted my picks last night! Well anyway, most of them were wrong but I did have Freire, Steegmans AND Arashiro in there.

    Good on Freire. “One of the good guys of cyclings” as Eurosport put it.

  16. @ben
    I went and checked the spam queue and found your picks in there. I can’t understand how Akismet decides something is spam sometimes…yours has no links, no pics, nothing in there to make anyone think it’s not a legit comment.

    I’ll tally the points today and see who won between Brett and Cyclops, but I think Brett took it based on the Steegemans pick which gives him six points. Cyclops, you win the sticker, in that case. I’ll confirm later today, mate!

    Welcome back, mate!

  17. @Frank hah well apparently it was late nite and I was bleary-eyed. I must have scratched steegmans and arashiro. The mind, it plays the tricks.

  18. Photo taken by my mother-in-law of Geoffroy Lequatre a bit before the Avenue de Grammont.

  19. Strong end of season for Arashiro; good on him! Top finish for a Frenchman/French team.

  20. unlucky lequatre, big kahunas and plenty of V…gutted for you
    Big up to Freire for resprinting to take the win

  21. @Marcus
    turned out that the flat course in Delhi turned out a blinder of a race. Much better than many of the “normal” races I’ve watched.

    Didn’t watch Paris-Tours, assumed Phileeepe would win

  22. Hey, you used to write great, but the last few posts have been kinda boring¡K I miss your super writings.
    Past several posts are just a little out of track!

    come on!

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