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Paris - Nice 2010: Prologue

Dutchman Lars Boom is leading the standings right now with a time of 10.56 minutes. The profile of the parcours is less flat than one could expect from looking at the map provided by the organiser.

There's a cobbled street right within the first kilometre of the parcours, slightly uphill, too, which doesn'tb make for a smooth start. After that, the road continues to climb, out of the small town into a forest.

A first rolling section comes after about 2 kilometres on a plateau.

Jean-Christophe Péraud, French TT champ, has just started.

AG2R's Tadej Valjavec is on the rolling part now, again through a forest.

We've just heard that Gert Steegmans (Radioshack) has crashed earlier and has been taken to hospital. He's out of the race before it's even started - too bad. Let's hope he's not gravely injured.

His rival sprinter André Greipel (HTC) is now off the start ramp. Let's see how he does but this doesn't look like a sprinter's prologue - more one for strong rouleurs and climbers like the overall favourites.

Following up on Steegmans: Lance Armstrong just twittered that he possibly broke his collarbone...

Tom Danielson got into the finish tenth, at 27 seconds.

Good performance by Chris Horner (Radioshack): 8th at the moment.

The sun is out now on the riders so weather-wise everything is fine.

Péraud came in tenth, not bad for his first year as a road rider.

Despite his big motor, Greipel is 43rd at the finish, 34 seconds behind.

U23 world chamion Romain Sicard has also started now. He had a few problems last week but finally could participate. His Euskaltel team will be eager to see what he's capable of.

Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) explained at the finish that it was important to start fast in this TT, using the big chainring, even though - or because of - the cobbled sector and the climb.

Philippe Gilbert, Lotto's head man, is under way. He will be showing good form at this Paris-Nice, building up for the Ardennes Classics.

Garmin's Svein Tuft, by the way, finished eighth, at 20 seconds of Boom, who's still sitting on the hot chair.

Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel is off, and going flat out right away. He's motivated for this race, and wants to finish on the podium again.

The big guns are here now, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) has left the start ramp.

The gaps at the finish won't be enormous between the overall favourites, but already might give an information on who's hot and who's not. The Spaniards (Valverde, his team-mate Luis Léon Sanchez, Alberto Contador, Samuel Sanchez) could be the driving forces of this year's race, against notably Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Chavanel.

David Millar (Garmin) is also preparing to start, a TT specialist who will have ambition on this course.

Schleck, also out on the loop, is on the rolling plateau now, digging into it.

Schleck looks smooth and sharp already. The pre-race hype has been much around Contador and Valverde, maybe this has helped him tackle this race undisturbed.

Chavanel finished, 37th, while David Millar sets off.

Schleck is also in the finish: in 67th position. Valverde: 23rd.

Let's see what Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack) can do. Millar could be a candidate for the victory here today, if he can find his rythm right from the start over the cobbles.

There is quite a head wind on the last half of the parcours, when the riders return into town.

Here comes the big race favourite, Alberto Contador (Astana), dressed in his Spanish TT champion skinsuit. His earpiece doesn't work, though - he signalled it to his team car.

Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) is also off.

Here comes Millar: fourth! Boom will start to get nervous on his hot chair.

Luis Leon Sanchez, the 2009 winner, is the lsat rider on the course. In ten minutes we'll know today's outcome!

Leiphiemer comes in strong... but gets second, biting his teeth!

Contador looks fast. He should be in good condition already after his Algarve win, and has declared wanting to win Paris-Nice again.

Voigt powers through the forest.

Samuel Sanchez finished sixth, that could give him a head strat over the other overall contenders.

Sanchez also looks strong, while Kreuziger finishes.

Contador has Tony Martin in view...!

Here comes Contador... not the first place... third!

Boom should be jubilating by now.

Voigt gives it all and gets second! Great performance.

Ah, Sanchez could make it... here he comes...

No, too far away. Sanchez finishes ninth, and Lars Boom (Rabobank) takes the win! A surprise victor, but worthy nonetheless, congratulations!

Top five are all within 10 seconds, as Voigt is at three secs, Leipheimer at six with Contador.

That's all from us in France today; join us again tomorrow for the first stage of Paris-Nice from Saint-Arnoult to Contres. Au revoir!

1.Lars Boom (Rabobank) 10.56
2.Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) 10.59
3.Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) 11.02
4.Alberto Contador (Astana) 11.02
5.Peter Sagan (Liquigas) 11.06
6.Xavier Tondo (Cervelo) 11.07
7.David Millar (Garmin) 11.08
8.Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) 11.09
9.Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) 11.09
10.Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) 11.12

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