Let the Games Begin! McGee Wins Tour Prologue
Bradley McGee (La Francaise des Jeux.com) has drawn first blood in the Tour de France.
Bradley McGee (La Francaise des Jeux.com) has drawn first blood in the Tour de France. The Australian powered over the 6.5-km course through Paris in 7:26:16. David Millar (Cofidis) finished second at 0:00.08, and Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) took third at 0:02.09.
Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner) set the early standard with a 7:43. Daniel Becke (Bianchi) bettered Pollack's mark with a 7:42, only to see George Hincapie (U.S. Postal Service) post a 7:37. Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) eventually pipped Hincapie with a 7:37.06. Zubeldia set the next standard, a 7:28.26. With fewer than half of the riders finished, Zubeldia's time, as good as it was, was unlikely to be a winner.
Zubeldia's time held for more than 90 minutes. Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) fell just short of it with a 7:28.28, and then McGee crossed the finish line. Millar was faster than McGee at the intermediate checkpoint, but he lost his chain and valuable seconds. McGee's rear tire, however, was flattening at the finish, so the bad breaks evened out.
The final starter was four-time defending champion Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal Service). By the man from Austin's own admission, he got off to a slow start. He was nine seconds behind McGee and in 13th place at the intermediate checkpoint. Armstrong had a fine second half, but he finished seventh at 7:34. Armstrong said that he was disappointed because he had wanted to win the centennial prologue.
In the overall, McGee leads Millar by .08 seconds and Zubeldia by 0:02. Stage 1 might change this state of affairs. The stage will begin in Saint-Denis and will be neutralized until it reaches the Cafe Reveil Matin, where the first stage of the first Tour began at 3:16 pm. At exactly that time, the riders of the centennial Tour will begin racing. One hundred sixty-eight twisting, turning, rolling km later, the stage will end in Meaux. There are two intermediate sprints and the finish-line sprint. The three dashes could put McGee's yellow jersey up for grabs. Will Robbie McEwen (Lotto), Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), or Erik Zabel (Telekom) best McGee, or will the Australian stand firm? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!
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