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Paris - Nice 2013: Prologue

Hello and welcome to our live coverage from the prologue at the 2013 Paris - Nice.

Today's 2.9 kilometre test is unlikely to provide any major markers in the race for the overall but it could certainly kick up a number of surprises for the top ten. Defending champion Bradley Wiggins is not here to defend his title, but there are still a number of strong TT riders here.

They won't have it all their own way though. The 2.9km course has a number of technical sections and it's distance shouldn't mean a number of explosive riders can't be ruled out for a good result.

Just scanning down the start list, there are  number of riders who could feature today.

Richie Porte leads Team Sky in Wiggins' absence, while Lieuwe Westra, Jens Voigt, Brent Bookwalter, Tejay van Garderen and David Millar could all feature.

There are a number of sprinters, with 4km track experience, like Leigh Howard, for example, too.

At the moment it's dry and calm at the start house, with around 60 riders having already raced the course. Peter Velits currently leads with a time of 3:40.

Thomas Voeckler:

"It’s certainly one for the sprinters or people with a bit of punch. It’s a course maybe that favours the craziest guys, the ones who take the corners quicker than the most of the rest of the riders."

 

Heinrich Haussler was certainly one of the riders taking risks earlier today. He crashed on one of the early corners but managed to finish. He'll start tomorrow's first stage.

As Daniel Oss just crosses the line in 35th place. Leigh Howard should be coming up to the line in the next minute or two actually.

If you're wondering what type of bikes riders are using for today, it's been a bit of a mixed bag. A number of Sky riders including former world u23 TT champ Danny Pate, and Tiernan-Locke are using standard road bikes.

Howard 24th, 8 seconds off the time of Velits.

Stef Clement (Blanco) starts his time trial in a minute. The course is probably too short for him to make an impact on but he'll be able to feed vital information back to his teammate and leader Robert Gesink.

Borut Bozic (Astana) is in second at the moment but less than a second off the time set by Velits.

Martijn Keizer, not a bad time, seconds down on Velits and into provisional 9th.

Here's the top five as it currently stands:

1.Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 3:40
2.Borut Bozic (Astana) +:00
3.Jesus Herrada (Movistar) +:02
4.William Bonnet (FdJ) +:03
5.Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) +:04

Throughout the next week and bit you can find all our Paris-Nice coverage right here.

While we've also compiled this photo gallery from Paris-Nice from the last 20 years.

One rider that wasn't going to cause much of a stir today is Daniel Navarro and he's just crossed the line in 85th place. This is an important race for him though, having left the comfort at Saxo Bank and Alberto Contador, to lead the French team Cofidis. He'll be looking to show his talent in the mountains later this week.

Maes has just crossed the line in fourth.

1.Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 3:40
2.Borut Bozic (Astana) +:00
3.Jesus Herrada (Movistar) +:02
4.Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) +:02
5.William Bonnet (FdJ) +:03

Blel Kadri wins Roma Maxima. Last year he crashed out of Paris-Nice and missed two months of the season.

So far the sprinters haven't featured in the top five today, and it appears that this is more of a course for a strong, powerful rider. Still there are plenty of riders to come with around 70 still to start.

RT @RomaMaxima: Biel Kadri (ALM) wins Roma Maxima 2013! / Biel Kadri (ALM) vince la Roma Maxima 2013! #romamaxima

@giroditalia Sun, 3rd Mar 2013 14:12:41

@dnlbenson you will find the route, stage profile, Google Earth tour and game of stage 1 of Paris Nice 2013 here http://t.co/HvbPXjxYs4

@cyclingthealps Sun, 3rd Mar 2013 14:24:48

Did you see this one coming? We have a new leader, Geoffrey Soupe (FDJ) who leads the prologue by a second from Velits.

The 24-year-old Frenchman has never won a time trial or a prologue as a professional rider.

Thomas De Gendt starts his ride. He's one rider that could do well today.

Gustav Larsson starts his prologue too. The IAM Cycling team have been aggressive since the start of the season. Can the Swede pull of a big shock today?

As Tony Gallopin (RadioShack) finishes in third.

1.Geoffrey Soupe (FdJ) 3:39
2.Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +:01
3.Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Leopard) +:01
4.Borut Bozic (Astana) +:01
5.Jesus Herrada (Movistar) +:03

Haedo comes to the line 3:51.

Jerome accelerates out of the start house. The first 500 meters are straight but from there the course becomes much more technical with a number of right and left hand turns. The Frenchman looks pretty good at the moment, taking each apex well. He's a little slow coming out of the corners though and that will hurt his final time.

Jack Bauer is next to start.

Jerome is on his way to the finish now. He wont trouble the leaders though.

Gilbert is the next rider to start. This course could actually suit him.

Gilbert comes up to the line in 3:45 , 22nd place. He lost a lot of time on the final straight section.

Romain Sicard is out on the course at the moment. The Frenchman is another rider giving it 100 per cent but he wont trouble the time set by Soupe.

Wilco Kelderman (Blanco) comes to the line and takes the lead. The Blanco rider less than one second faster than Soupe.

Lovkvist is coming to the line now too. Not a great ride, 69th on the day.

1.Wildo Kelderman (Blanco) 3:39
2.Geoffrey Soupe (FdJ) +:00
3.Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +:01
4.Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Leopard) +:01
5.Borut Bozic (Astana) +:01

QuickStep have 3 riders in the top ten at the moment.Can they make it 4, as Tom Boonen rolls down the start ramp.

Here comes Viviani in 6th place. A strong performance from the sprinter/track rider.

Boonen appears to be struggling to get on top of this gear but he's not holding back, that's for sure.

David Millar now starts his prologue. It's perhaps a bit too short in distance for the Garmin rider though.

Boonen finishes in 17th place.

Not a bad ride from Turgot, who crosses the line to nab 6th.

And Grivko takes 7th on the line as Bouet leaves the start house.

Millar is coming up to the line. He wont come close today and finishes in 62nd place.

Arnold Jeannesson is on his road bike for today's prologue. He's out on the course now.

Monfort starts. He's a good shout for the overall perhaps but today may not suit him. He's certainly efficient as a time trialist though, and gets right into the correct position as soon as he rolls down the ramp and picks up speed.

And Monfort crashes. A right hand corner and the bike slips from under him. He's getting to his feet but very slowly.

Monfort crosses the line in 155th place.

Just 23 riders left to start the race. Kelderman still leads and could pull on the leader's jersey at the end of the day. His teammate Lars Boom won the opening stage of this race a few years ago.

Wooooo! @TeamMTNQhubeka gets its first big win of the year in #3dwvl - congrats @GeraldCiolek !

@Laura_Weislo Sun, 3rd Mar 2013 15:15:15

Ivan Basso starts his prologue attempt.

1.Wildo Kelderman (Blanco) 3:39
2.Geoffrey Soupe (FdJ) +:00
3.Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +:01
4.Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Leopard) +:01
5.Borut Bozic (Astana) +:01

Another big hitter is about to start though, Sylvain Chavanel, the French time trial champion, rolls down the ramp.

Fuglsang follows Chavanel down the ramp. the Danish time trial champion is a good bet for success later in the week but if basing his season around the Tour de France this season.

Chavanel is coming to the line and he's going to take the lead by 1.4 seconds.

Damien Gaudin (Europcar) has just set the fastest time, a whole second faster than Chavanel.

1.Damien Gaudin (Europcar) 3:37
2.Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) +:01
3.Wildo Kelderman (Blanco) +:02
4.Geoffrey Soupe (FdJ) +:02
5.Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +:03

As van Garderen starts his prologue.

The American almost lost it on one corner but he makes it through by the skin of his teeth.

Van Garderen finishes in 52nd place, over ten seconds down. He wont be over the moon with that result.

Andreas Kloden, who won this race over a decade ago, is now on the course too. The German time trialists looks comfortable out there at the moment as he heads towards the first set of tricky corners.

It looks like Gaudin is going to pull off a bit of a shock. Robert Gesink is about to start.

Kloden is lurching towards the line but he wont trouble the leaders. As Lieuwe Westra, who won the prologue last year, starts.

Richie Porte (Team Sky) is the last man off wearing number 1 on his back.

Gesink finishes 6 seconds off the lead, so beats van Garderen by four seconds. The Blanco rider will be very happy with that.

So only Porte and Westra stand in Gaudin's way.  Westra is coming to the line though.

Westra finishes 3rd fastest.

Riche Porte is the only rider out there and Gaudin is in the hot seat, hoping the Sky rider comes up short.

Porte can only manage 39th so Gaudin wins the opening prologue of Paris-Nice. A turn up for the books but still a very accomplished ride for the Europcar man.

1 Damien Gaudin (Fra) Team Europcar 0:03:37
2 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:03:38
3 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:03:38
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Blanco 0:03:39
5 Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ 0:03:39
6 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:03:40
7 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard 0:03:40
8 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:03:40
9 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar 0:03:41
10 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 0:03:42

Thanks for joining us today. We'll be back tomorrow with more live action from Paris-Nice. You can read today's report, results and find pictures right here.

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