By Susan Westemeyer
The riders' comments from Sunday's Paris-Nice prologue almost all mentioned their confusion about the conflict between the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and International Cycling Union (UCI), but the predominant theme was something more basic: the rain.
"This back-and-forth between the UCI, ASO and the teams over the last few weeks, really got on my nerves," said Gerolsteiner's Bernhard Kohl on his personal website. "When you have prepared over months for this first big season highlight, then you want to be able to go to the start." He did start, but not at a good time. "Just as I got to the start, the rain came down even harder and there was a strong wind." He was nevertheless satisfied with his time, finishing 66th and 24 seconds down.
His team-mate, Oliver Zaugg, admitted, "Actually I like this kind of prologue. Not because I can win one, but because the day isn't so strenuous, you're back to the hotel early and have time to relax." He, too, had bad luck with the weather. "The road was very wet, but fortunately it wasn't a technical course," Zaugg said on radsport-news.com. "My front wheel did slide away on one curve, but with luck and skill I was able to prevent a crash." The Swiss rider finished 149th, 48 seconds behind the leader.
Team High Road's Servais Knaven was coming off a hectic week. His racing program was changed, he celebrated his birthday and his grandmother's funeral was held on Saturday. The thought of a possible six-month suspension didn't help much either. As to the prologue, he said on his website "I rode on wet roads and finished 77th. I can't really say much more."
Christian Knees of Team Milram had "like many others, bad luck with the weather. ... Naturally you can't ride the curves so well on a wet road. That contorted the competition a bit." He said that his results were "totally ok," especially considering it didn't go so well for him. He was 25 seconds down in 71st place.
Team Rabobank on its website noted that the prologue was held early because of the afternoon's live broadcast of the France-Italy rugby match. Team manager Erik Dekker wasn't sure what to make of the day's results. "Today's story is a bit unclear. The first 35 guys ride dry, than a hundred men soaking wet, and the rest on a drying course again. This does not help you get a clear picture."
USA Team Slipstream knew exactly who to blame for the day: "Mother Nature ruled the result of today's prologue," according to the team's website. David Millar had hoped to win the prologue but was satisfied with his 12th place, 11 seconds down. "There are few things worse than having a crono performance compromised because of the weather. Considering I was one of the last to go before it started drying out more, I'm satisfied with my result," he said. His team-mate Tyler Farrar was a victim of the weather, crashing on a corner and finishing dead last, at 3'13".
Bradley McGee of Team CSC was luckier. "I didn't get any rain, but the roads were wet and I think it was the same for everyone," he said on the team's website. "These short prologues are always weird because they end up so close with tiny margins deciding the outcome. But I actually felt really good out there so I'm very satisfied with today's result." He finished fourth, with only five seconds separating him from the winner.