By Jean-François Quénet in Belleville, France
Luck keeps following Trent Lowe's (Team Slipstream) first appearance at the Paris-Nice. The young Australian was the 22nd rider to start Sunday's Prologue, where he clocked a time worth of a top 10 spot, placing him in a strong position for the remainder of the event.
"I was lucky with the weather," he said, referring to the dry conditions experienced by the first 29 riders over the start ramp. Over the following two stages Lowe has managed to avoid all of the crashes, unlike team leader David Millar who went down at the entrance of the town of Nevers on Stage 1 and again with 60 kilometres to go in Stage 2.
"The team waited for him but I didn't have to, I stayed with the leaders," Lowe explained in Belleville. "I actually didn't realize there was a crash."
Lowe's ride to date has shown the former mountain biker isn't just lucky, he knows exactly where to be placed in the peloton. The Australian isn't just talking the talk at Paris-Nice either, he's also walking the walk with the rider currently in fifth place on general classification, 29 seconds behind race leader Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole).
Lowe now wears the white jersey of best young rider after taking over from the Ukraine's Andriy Grivko (Team Milram), who was involved in the second stage's big crash and like Millar was unable to return to the front group. "It wouldn't be nice to get the jersey because of somebody else's crash but Paris-Nice is a big race and it's important for my team to get such a reward," said Lowe.
The Australian's high placing on general classification is especially important as the race enters the mountain stages, with Lowe currently the highest ranked pure climber. With Mont Ventoux coming up on Thursday, Lowe is in a strong position to surprise the peloton and take over the race lead.
"I hope to do well up the Ventoux," he said. "I'm feeling pretty good but I also hope the weather will be better now because I'm not used to the rain and the cold. In the past two years, with my trips from Australia to the US or to Europe at the right time, I've not experienced any winter time recently."