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Wind is often a major factor in the French classic, Paris–Tours, the 110th edition of which takes place this Sunday. This image from the 2001 edition shows the peloton splitting into echelons as some riders are still pulling musettes over their shoulders after the feed zone, halfway through the race.
#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada
Like this year’s edition, the 2001 race took place a week ahead of the world road championships—held in Lisbon, Portugal, 15 years ago. That world title was won in a mass finish by Spain’s Oscar Freire, a week after he took the field sprint at Paris–Tours (though that was a sprint for second place, two seconds behind breakaway winner Richard Virenque).
Several of the top sprinters who’ll be contesting this Sunday’s race are doing a warm-up event Thursday, another French fall classic, Paris–Bourges, which is shorter and hillier than Paris–Tours. Heading the field is the defending champion, Irishman Sam Bennett of Bora-Argon 18. Also on the starting line in Gien, 150 kilometers south of Paris, are the French sprinters Nacer Bouhanni of Cofidis and Bryan Coquard of Direct Énergie and the British riders Mark Cavendish of Dimension Data and Dan McLay of Fortuneo-Vital Concept.
These four fast men will be joined at Paris–Tours on Sunday by several other worlds contenders, including Germany’s André Greipel of Lotto-Soudal, the Australians Caleb Ewen and Michael Matthews of Orica-BikeExchange, the Belgians Tom Boonen of Etixx-Quick Step and Greg Van Avermaet of BMC Racing, Frenchman Arnaud Démare of FDJ, Italian Elia Viviani of Team Sky and Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria of Etixx-Quick Step.