A long time between drinks for Guesdon
34 year-old Frédéric Guesdon (Française des Jeux) scored his biggest win since the 1997 Paris-Roubaix, taking out a nail-biting two man sprint ahead of Norwegian Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC). The pair were the only survivors of a larger group that had escaped in the early stages of the race. Arvesen's teammate Stuart O'Grady led the bunch home for third, eight seconds behind the winner.
"When they bunch came back on us [the break], there were about ten seconds left, but this often happened in the finale of Paris-Tours before, so I told myself that there still was a chance," Guesdon told France 3 at the finish. "I accelerated on the final climb, and fortunately my colleague Arvesen came back on me otherwise it would have been tight...In the final kilometre, it was all tactics. I knew he was fast so I got behind him early. It worked out!
"At the beginning of my career, if somebody had told me that I would win two World Cups... Now, all that's left to win would be Flanders or Milan-San Remo!" Guesdon added, all smiles.
The initial breakaway happened after 33 km of racing, and contained riders such as Paolini and Gasparotto (Liquigas), Van Impe (Quick.Step), and Moreni (Cofidis). They were chased and eventually mostly caught by a group of around 40, with Erik Zabel and Tom Boonen both missing the move and pulling out after 154 km. With 45 km to go, Guesdon, Moreni (joined by Van Impe, Gasparotto and Arvesen) attacked, and although the chasing peloton came close to bringing them back, Guesdon and Arvesen were able to get away on the Côte de l'Epan with 8 km to go. The sprint saw Arvesen lead until 200m to go, when Guesdon came past and won.
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