David Millar made a great start to his 2007 season when he took a narrow but convincing victory in the opening 4.7 kilometre hilly prologue time trial of Paris-Nice on Sunday afternoon. It was the first British stage win in the Course Au Soleil since Chris Boardman won the prologue of Paris-Nice back in 1999.
Despite his saddle coming a little loose on the false flat close to the summit, Millar produced a faultless performance on the short and hilly course in the Paris suburbs.He was a second slower than his team-mate Remmert Wielinga (who finally finished eighth) at the mid-way check point but held his nerve and tore down the highly technical descent to the finish, ending the course a second faster than former junior World road-race champion Roman Kreuzinger of Liquigas. France?s Sebastian Joly of Franciase des Jeux was third, two seconds further down.
Although more than 35 riders finished ten seconds or less behind Millar, Belgium’s Tom Boonen was not amongst them. The Quick Step rider had a rough Saturday night with an upset stomach and on a course not made for him, finished 14 seconds down on Millar. Roger Hammond (T-Mobile), who admitted his main objective ?was to get round without any problems, this wasn?t a day for me.? finished 104th, 22 seconds down.
Speaking after his victory of 2007, Millar described his prologue victory as ?deep down, one which I knew I was going to win. I?d told a lot of people that I thought I could do it. I used to feel confident in this way, and now I?ve got my old self back, I?m saying things like that again.?
?I went over the course 14 times, I went over the last three corners eight times this morning. It was hard work.I had a little problem with my saddle, which was not ideal, but really the course was one of those old clichés, start fast, get faster and finish even faster. In a distance like this, though, you?ve either got it or you haven?t, there?s no no room for mistakes.?
Millar said his objective is now is to ?take the leader?s jersey all the way to Nice. I?ve got a strong team and I?m ready to take that responsiblity: even if I can?t hold onto it all the way there, I know I can count on some great back-up.?
Monday’s first road stage from Cloyes-sur-le-Loir to Buzançais is over a distance of 186km and is expected to end in a bunch sprint but there is always a danger in the early tages of Paris-Nice that the flat and exposed roads will spark echelons and split the peloton.
Results: Issy-les-Moulineaux Prologue: 4.7 km
1 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir 6.01 (46.869 km/h)
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas 0.01
3 Sébastien Joly (Fra) Française Des Jeux 0.02
4 Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery Channel
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel 0.03
7 Francisco José Ventoso (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 0.04
8 Remmert Wielinga (Ned) Saunier Duval-Prodir
9 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Française Des Jeux
10 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank 0.05