Tue, Oct 10, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Guesdon wins Paris-Tours

AP , TOURS, FRANCE

Frederic Guesdon of France won the Paris-Tours cycling race on Sunday, beating Kurt-Asle Arvesen and Stuart O'Grady in the 100th edition of the race.

Guesdon, who won his second race at home, is the first French winner since Richard Virenque in 2001. He also won the Paris-Roubaix race in 1997.

"I had to play it tactically, because I knew he [Arvesen] was going to go quick," Guesdon said. "I knew the fresher rider would win and I didn't feel too bad."

Riders maintained an average speed of 48kph through the first two hours of the 254.5km Pro Tour race.

Frederic Guesdon, Cristian Moreni and Kevin Van Impe were caught by Enrico Gasparotto and Luca Paolini about 40km from the line. The five leaders maintained the lead until Arvesen caught up and Van Impe and Paolini dropped off to leave four leaders with about 10km to go.

The final 2.6km sprint along the Avenue de Gramont is among the longest in any cycling race.

Tom Boonen, Robbie McEwen and Thor Hushovd were among the favorites, but a hilly approach to the finish kept the field wide open.

Defending champion Erik Zabel, who is expected to retire from cycling soon, was aiming for a record fourth win. He won a silver medal at the road worlds, losing to Paolo Bettini at the line.

However, both he and Boonen dropped out of the race, along with several other riders, when they fell 12 minutes behind the leaders after about 160km. Bettini did not race.

Jaan Kirsipuu of Estonia was honored by organizers prior to the start at Saint-Arnoult en-Yvelines in the Paris suburbs. The 37-year-old Kirsipuu, who placed third at Paris-Tours in 1999 and has four Tour de France stage wins, is retiring.

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