Thierry Dupond, a Frenchman with the Skil-Shimano team, will be the first rider to roll down the start ramp at Paris-Nice shortly after midday local time this afternoon.
ASO has announced its official start times for the 4.6 kilometre prologue in Amilly (opens in new tab).
Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck, Damiano Cunego, David Millar (pictured), Stefan Schumacher, Oscar Pereiro and Thor Hushovd are all included in a typically strong line-up. Certainly it is not bereft of stars, as the UCI would no doubt have hoped.
But it is Dupond who finds himself in the unenviable position of being the first rider to defy the UCI?s ban on competing in the Race to the Sun, which is being run under French Cycling Federation rules because of the war between the world governing body and the company that owns the event, ASO.
Dupond will be followed a minute later by Danny Pate, an American on the Slipstream team. Another minute after that, Sergio Ghisalberti is scheduled to become the first ProTour rider to break ranks.
All 160 riders in the field have been threatened with bans of up to six months for taking part in an unsanctioned race but the teams agreed on Friday that they would go ahead and race.
Pat McQuaid, the president of the governing body, has said that any teams that race in Paris-Nice will be kicked out of the UCI
With just a couple of hours to go until the prologue is due to get underway, there appears to be little chance of the teams changing their minds.
Slipstream?s leader will be Millar. However, Slipstream are not part of the ProTour and although the threat of a ban applies to them just as much as anyone else, they are slightly on the periphery of the row.
The ProTour teams have sent plenty of star riders, though. Evans is there for Silence-Lotto ? perhaps not a surprise considering his big goal is the Tour de France but the Australian has made no secret of his Olympic ambitions too this year.
The UCI have threatened to ban riders from the Beijing Games for racing in an unsanctioned event.
Surprisingly, considering Marc Madiot?s comments that he would not risk the rider, Philippe Gilbert is in Francaise des Jeux?s line-up.
French participation is slightly up ? at 38 riders compared to last year?s 33 in 160-man field ? but not dramatically so.
20 teams of 8 riders
38 French riders
(last year there were 33 French riders)
1 British rider (David Millar)
|DEFYING THE UCI|
Some of the biggest names on the start list for today?s Paris-Nice prologue
Bradley McGee, Bobby Julich, Alexandr Kolobnev, Frank Schleck
Cadel Evans, Yaroslav Popovych
Oscar Pereiro, Luis Leon Sanchez
FRANÇAISE DES JEUX
Stefan Schumacher, Davide Rebellin
Robert Gesink, Juan Antonio Flecha
Igor Anton, Haimar Zubeldia
Sylvain Chavanel, David Moncoutie
Jose Angel Gomez Marchante
PARIS-NICE 2008: STAGE REPORTS
Prologue: Hushovd wins
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
Official start times for Sunday?s Paris-Nice prologue (opens in new tab)
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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.
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