Millar has early overall lead after Paris-Nice prologue

Updated: March 11, 2007, 12:01 PM ET
Associated Press

ISSY-LES-MOULINEAUX, France -- David Millar won a prologue Sunday to take the early overall lead at the Paris-Nice race, which began despite threats of a boycott.

The Scottish rider finished in 6 minutes, 1 second in a 2.9-mile dash around the Paris suburb of Issy-Les-Moulineaux. Roman Kreuzinger of the Czech Republic trailed by one second and Sebastien Joly of France was two seconds back.

Luis Sanchez of Spain was fourth ahead of Alberto Contador, while American rider Levi Leipheimer -- one of the race favorites -- finished 3 seconds behind Millar in the sixth spot.

The race started after arguments between organizers of the sport's three main races and cycling's governing body, which threatened to disrupt the season. UCI had asked ProTour teams to boycott Paris-Nice, saying it was considered only a national event.

Nine hours of haggling averted a boycott and staved off a possible split in the sport.

Millar's victory comes after allegations of doping. In January, the former Cofidis cyclist was acquitted of doping charges by a French court in a case for which he served a two-year ban.

Millar, who now competes for the Saunier-Duval/Prodir team, was on trial with nine others on charges of acquiring and possessing banned substances. Prosecutor Jacques Hossaert asked the court to acquit him because his cooperation helped in the fight against doping.

Millar testified that intense pressure to perform led him to try the banned blood-boosting hormone EPO. He was banned for two years and stripped of his 2003 world time-trial title after admitting using EPO once in 2001 and twice in 2003 -- including at the Tour de France.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press