<
>

Millar has early overall lead after Paris-Nice prologue

3/11/2007

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.