remember this d-bags return to the peleton
Virenque Wins Paris-Tours
Richard Virenque (Domo) has won his first postsuspension victory
. Virenque sallied off the front after 12 km, forged an 18-minute lead, and held on to win Paris-Tours in 6:58:32. Two seconds later, Oscar Freire (Mapei) took the bunch sprint for second from Erik Zabel (Telekom). Erik Dekker (Rabobank) remains the World Cup leader after the 254-km race.
At 12 km, Virenque surged into a headwind. Jacky Durand (La Francaise des Jeux) joined him, and the duo went unopposed. Their lead ballooned to 18 minutes at 60 km.
The cold, windy, rainy weather spurred the bunch to ride faster. At 148 km, the lead was down to 13:00, and at 184 km, the break led the bunch by 7:00. Tacconi Sport and Ag2R led a peloton that seemed to be poised to reel in the escapees.
After 186 km, Andrea Tafi (Mapei) set out in pursuit of the fugitives, who led the field by 6:00. Serge Baguet (Lotto), Lauri Aus (Ag2R), and Robert Hunter (Lampre) joined the Italian. At 214 km, the pursuing quartet was 4:00 behind the leading duo, and the peloton was at 5:30. Telekom took over the chase.
Telekom's pursuit spelled doom for the chasing group, and it appeared to put paid to the break as well. At 244 km, only 0:50 separated Virenque and Durand from the field. Moreover, Durand's pulls were getting shorter. He was faltering.
On the Cote de l'Epan, the day's next-to-last climb, Virenque dropped Durand. At this point, only seven km remained. Behind Virenque, Erik Dekker attacked, and World Champion Romans Vainsteins (Domo), Luca Paolini (Mapei), and Jan Svorada (Lampre) caught him. When Virenque began to climb the Cote de Petit Pas d'Ane at 249 km, his lead had fallen to 0:20.
The five-time Tour de France King of the Mountains powered through Tours as the peloton pursued. With two km left, Virenque led the Telekom- and Ag2R-led bunch by 0:15. Would the bunch reel in the break?
No! With 200 m left, Virenque turned around and realized that he would win. The Frenchman made his trademark victory gesture, kissing his right index finger and raising it to the sky. The French crowd roared as their compatriot crossed the finish line.
In the World Cup, Erik Dekker leads Erik Zabel 318-250. Romans Vainsteins is third with 229 points. With only the Tour of Lombardy remaining, Dekker is the favorite to win the World Cup, although Zabel and Vainsteins can overtake him. First, however, the three must do battle at the World Championship Road Race in Lisbon, where Vainsteins will attempt to keep Zabel, Dekker, and others from taking his crown.