Lars Boom of Rabobank was the surprise winner of the Prologue of Paris-Nice in Montfort L’Amaury this afternoon as the continental road racing season began in earnest with 2010’s first major European stage race.
The 24-year-old Dutchman, a former World Cyclo-Cross and Under-23 World Time Trial Champion riding a Shimano Di2 equipped Giant Trinity Advanced SL, set a time of 10 minutes 56 seconds on the eight-kilometre course which the likes of Team RadioShack’s Levi Leipheimer and Astana’s Alberto Contador, both of whom finished six seconds down in third and fourth place respectively, proved unable to match.
The penultimate rider on the eight kilometre course, Jens Voigt of Team Saxo Bank, back after the crash on the Petit Col du St-Bernard that put him in hospital with concussion and a fractured cheekbone during Stage 16 of last year’s Tour de France, came in second, three seconds down.
The leading British rider, David Millar of Garmin-Transitions, finished seventh, 11 seconds behind Boom, while defending champion, Luis Leon Sanchez of Caisse d’Epargne, was one second behind him in eighth position.
One of the big losers today was Voigt’s Team Saxo Bank colleague, Frank Schleck, who finished 48 seconds behind the winner.
Tomorrow, the race, which runs until next Sunday, follows a 201.5-kilomtere route from Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines to Contres, a little way east of the Loire Valley city of Tours.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.