Petacchi Wins Stage 1 of Tour de France; Cancellara Remains in Yellow
Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) has won Stage 1 of the 2010 Tour de France.
Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) has won Stage 1 of the 2010 Tour de France. The Italian veteran took a crash-marred sprint at the end of a crash-marred, flat, 223.5-km run from Rotterdam, The Netherlands to Brussels, Belgium to win in 5:19:38. Prologue winner Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) remains the maillot jaune despite crashing in the closing stages of the race.
At the gun, Lars Boom (Rabobank) sallied away from the peloton, and Maarten Wynants (Quick Step) and Alan Perez (Euskaltel) joined the Dane. At 30 km, the trio led the field by seven minutes. Saxo Bank rode tempo to peg the lead.
At 70 km, the course turned right, and the GC squad forced their way to the front in anticipation of the crosswinds that might split the field into echelons. The winds, however, were not as strong as expected, and the peloton stayed together and started driving toward the break. At 90 km, three minutes separated bunch and break.
The crashes started early. In the first hour of the stage, Adam Hansen (HTC-Columbia) crashed and broke his collarbone. Amazingly, he finished the stage, but he abandoned after the race. At 60 km, a dog ran onto the course, and Ivan Basso (Liquigas), Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloeden (both from RadioShack), and David Millar (Garmin) crashed while avoiding the animal. In the second crash, all of the riders escaped with scrapes and bruises, but the mishaps were harbingers.
After the worry about the crosswinds passed, Saxo Bank reassumed command at the front. The gap grew to more than four minutes, and HTC-Columbia and Liquigas joined the Danish squad at the front. With 55 km left, the escapees' lead was down to one and a half minutes.
With 30 km remaining and less than one minute separating bunch and break, Wynants attacked his companions. Alexander Pliuschin (Katusha) bridged up to Wynants while the peloton absorbed the Quick Stepper's erstwhile breakmates. The duo led the Garmin-paced peloton by about 0:30 with 25 km left and nearly 1:00 five km later. Meanwhile, Oscar Freire (Rabobank) punctured, and his teammates attempted to pace him back to the peloton.
HTC-Columbia returned to the front, and the break was doomed. With 12 km, their advantage was down to half a minute, and four km later the peloton was together. Lampre, Cervelo, Katusha, Milram, and Garmin joined HTC-Columbia at the front and began to battle for position.
With two and a half km left, Freire, Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo), and Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) crashed on a hairpin turn. One km later, all hell broke loose when another crash occurred. Dozens of riders were stuck behind it, and only the lead sprinters could fight out the finish. Garmin led out Tyler Farrar, but with 50 m left, Lloyd Mondory (Ag2r) crashed, and the American's bike became entangled with the Frenchman's. Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) led out the sprint, but Petacchi overhauled the Norwegian for the win.
In the overall, Cancellara leads Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) by 0:10 and Millar by 0:20. Stage 2 will be a rolling, 201-km ride from Brussels to Spa, Belgium. The course will feature three Category 4 climbs and the same number of Category 3 ascents. The last of