Don?t let anyone tell you that travel broadens the mind. Travel is a stressful, tiring thing to do ? like supporting Exeter City, or getting punched in the face.

Cycling Weekly?s trip to Amilly involved waking up at a time which started with a ?five?. A miserable git of a taxi driver grumbled about squeezing a bike into the back seat, before dropping me off at St Pancras, which architectural critics have raved about, although I bet they?d find it a lot less appealing at six-thirty in the morning after the journey from hell.

I arrived at Amilly some hours later, having negotiated a redeeming nap on the Eurostar, successfully extricated myself from the Parisian périphérique and blindly obeyed the satnav?s every instruction. I got there just in time to see Dave Millar leaving the start house. I?d gambled that by arriving late I wouldn?t miss anything interesting, and I turned out to be very right, unless you think drizzle is interesting.

The race was trying hard to be a success. It really was. But if ASO were expecting Paris-Nice to make a bold statement of defiance to the UCI, they would have been disappointed. I?ve seen livelier funeral processions. A CW colleague pointed out that there were probably bigger crowds at the Eddie Soens.

And then, as ASO tried to present Thor Hushovd with his yellow jersey, the PA system broke down. When Tour announcer Daniel Mangeas, a man so enthusiastic that he sometimes forgets to breathe, is looking cheesed off, you know it?s time to go home. He tried to shout instead, but a combination of 80kph winds blowing in the opposite direction from the crowds and the fact that 30 years of non-stop talking have shredded his vocal cords meant that by the time Hushovd had shivered his way through his presentation, the crowd was already dispersing. Unlike the rainclouds, which are apparently going to drop a month?s worth of rain on to the riders tomorrow.

Were you up at five? Email us at cycling@ipcmedia.com

CW?S CYCLING-SPONSOR-STRAVAGANZA

Every day this week, Cycling Weekly uses a product provided by one of the teams in Paris-Nice.

Today: Caisse d?Epargne

Words can?t describe the puce-faced ire I experienced when I was on the phone to my bank last week. There is a security feature on my account which means that every time I go abroad and use my card, it gets frozen, preventing me from using it again. I am unable to prevent this from happening, much like Josef K. in The Trial

The conversation goes like this:

Me: ?I?m going abroad. Can you not freeze my card, please??

Bank: ?When your card is used abroad, it counts as an unusual spending pattern, which our system then flags up for your own security.?

Me: ?But it?s not an unusual spending pattern. It?s me using my card abroad. Can your system not flag it up, please??

Bank: ?No. Would you like to take out a loan??

All of which ran through my head as I stood in front of the Amilly branch of Caisse d?Epargne. I knew that there?d be one chance to get a thick wad of euros out before my bank wised up and froze the card.

CW is pleased to report that Caisse d?Epargne not only have the best kit in the ProTour, but also that the 300 readies with which their cashpoint obligingly parted saved your correspondent from having to hitch to his hotel.

Caisse d?Epargne score: 8/10

Tomorrow, CW eats Milram cheese

PARIS-NICE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage seven

Stage six

Stage five

Stage four

Stage three

Stage two

Stage one

Prologue: Hushovd wins

RELATED LINKS

Prologue analysis: winners and losers

Big names line up for Paris-Nice and defy UCI

Teams vote to ride Paris-Nice

Paris-Nice preview: does the route suit David Millar?

RELATED LINKS: UCI VS ASO

ASO: “We are doing the right thing”

Dummies’ guide to the UCI vs ASO row

UCI intensifies war of words before Paris-Nice

McQuaid defied anti-apartheid ban to race in South Africa. Is he the right man to lecture others on where to race?

Cavendish and Wiggins avoid Paris-Nice and possible UCI ban

Analysis: UCI v ASO. How did it come to this and where do we go next?

Row intensifies as UCI ask Boyer to step down

BLOG: PARIS-NICE

Paris-Nice blog: parts two and three