February 23, 2003 – The Navigators Cycling Team raced today in the 35th edition of the GP Haut-Var, one of France's most popular events, and part of the Coupe de France series. This 180Km event featured plenty of climbing on the narrow, twisting roads of Southern France. Starting under sunny, but cool weather, the climbing began just .5 Km into the race. The first attack came by Richard Virenque (Quick-Step) and a La Boulangere rider. The pair were the first to reach the first KOM at 52Km, to take the KOM points.
However, 20Km later it was a different pair with an advantage, and as Andrey Kaschechkin (Quick-Step) and Lange Kristensen (CSC) approached the 2nd KOM at 80Km, they were joined by Ludovic Martin (Jean Delatour) and Walter Beneteau (La Boulangere). After 110K of racing, their gap was up to 2:30. As the group crossed through the start/finish area at the end of the large 155K loop, and start of the final 25Km finishing loop, their lead had dropped to 1:25 over the remaining 40-rider field that included Navigators' Jeff Louder.
The steep (18%) 2K climb that came with 20K remaining, brought an attack by Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner). After several attacks and counter-attacks, the lead group was now at 11 riders, but was further whittled down over the final 10K, with four able to stay clear to the line. At the finish, it was Sylvain Chavenel (La Boulangere), followed by Samuel Sanchez (Euskatel). Louder was the Navigators strongman of the day, as the squad switches gears for tomorrow's Classic Haribo, which begins in Uzes and finishes 203K later in Marseille.