Tour de France Diary, Stage One: Sagan victorious in Seraing
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The peloton remained in Belgium for the first road stage of the 99th Tour de France last night – an undulating 198km journey from Liège to Seraing.
Unlike the perfect conditions experienced during yesterday’s prologue, riders were faced with patchy weather as they made their way through Belgium’s Ardennes region.
With 20km remaining, inconvenient crosswinds caused temporary splits in the main field, but order was regained for the run into the finish. And what a finish it was.
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) continued his stellar season, blowing away yellow jersey holder Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) and Norwegian powerhouse Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Pro Cycling) in a gruelling uphill finish.
The trio tore themselves off the front on the back of a brutal acceleration launched by Cancellara at the foot of the ascent to the finish line.
Sagan managed to tag onto Spartacus fairly quickly, while Boasson Hagen had to gradually claw his way up to the leading pair.
The Slovak’s cheeky celebration (at one point he flapped his arms like a chicken) as he hit the line first shows that he is brimming with confidence.
Earlier, a six-man breakaway was established, consisting of: Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), Maxime Bouet (Ag2r La Mondiale), Pablo Urtasun Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun), Yohann Gène (Europcar) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne).
The group was reeled in well short of the finish by the peloton, which was controlled by Cancellara’s determined RadioShack-Nissan teammates from the outset.
Super domestique Jens Voigt was a picture of concentration, keen as ever to dish out pain to his rivals. Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych was RadioShack-Nissan’s other key workhorse.
The breakaway riders were the first to reach the stage’s only intermediate sprint in Erezèe (after 116.5km). Gène led the group over the line and pocketed 20 points, closely followed by Urtasun.
Australian sprinter Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) was the best of the rest, snaring seventh place and 9 points in the green jersey competition.
The breakaway also beat the main field to the summits of four of stage one’s five categorised climbs, all of which were category four and worth one point in the King of the Mountains (KOM) classification.
Morkov claimed the solitary KOM point on the Cote de Cokaifagne (42km), Cote de Lierneux (94km) and Cote de Barvaux (139km). Urtasun was first over the second climb of the day, the Cote de Francorchamps (49km).
Tomorrow sees the peloton remain in Belgium for a third straight day of racing, the 207.5km stage two from Visé to Tournai.
Aside from one category four climb at the Cote de la Citadelle de Namur (2.1km to 4.5%), the course profile is flat and suited to the sprinters.
Mark Cavendish will be licking his lips.
Tour de France Stage 1 Results
Rider, Team, Time, Gaps
1. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 04h 58′ 19″
2. CANCELLARA Fabian, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 04h 58′ 19″ + 00′ 00″
3. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald, SKY PRO CYCLING, 04h 58′ 19″ + 00′ 00″
4. GILBERT Philippe, BMC RACING, 04h 58′ 19″ + 00′ 00″
5. MOLLEMA Bauke, RABOBANK, 04h 58′ 19″ + 00′ 00″
6. VALVERDE Alejandro, MOVISTAR, 04h 58′ 19″ + 00′ 00″
7. GESINK Robert, RABOBANK, 04h 58′ 19″ + 00′ 00″
8. MARTIN Daniel, GARMIN-SHARP, 04h 58′ 19″ + 00′ 00″
9. HESJEDAL Ryder, GARMIN-SHARP, 04h 58′ 19″ + 00′ 00″
10. DEVENYNS Dries, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 04h 58′ 19″ + 00′ 00″
13. GERRANS Simon, ORICA-GREENEDGE
16. WIGGINS Bradley, SKY PRO CYCLING
20. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING
22. ROGERS Michael, SKY PRO CYCLING
33. MARTIN Tony, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP
36. BASSO Ivan, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE
Tour de France Points Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. CANCELLARA Fabian, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 55
2. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 49
3. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald, SKY PRO CYCLING, 42
4. GILBERT Philippe, BMC RACING, 33
5. CHAVANEL Sylvain, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 23
Tour de France KOM Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. MORKOV Michael, SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK, 3
2. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 1
3. URTASUN PEREZ Pablo, EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI, 1
Tour de France Overall Standings
Rider, Team, Time, Gaps
1. CANCELLARA Fabian, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 05h 05′ 32″
2. WIGGINS Bradley, SKY PROCYCLING, 05h 05′ 39″ + 00′ 07″
3. CHAVANEL Sylvain, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 05h 05′ 39″ + 00′ 07″
4. VAN GARDEREN Tejay, BMC RACING, 05h 05′ 42″ + 00′ 10″
5. HAGEN Edvald Boasson, SKY PRO CYCLING, 05h 05′ 43″ + 00′ 11″
6. MENCHOV Denis, KATUSHA, 05h 05′ 45″ + 00′ 13″
7. GILBERT Philippe, BMC RACING, 05h 05′ 45″ + 00′ 13″
8. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 05h 05′ 49″ + 00′ 17″
9. NIBALI Vincenzo, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 05h 05′ 50″ + 00′ 18″
10. HESJEDAL Ryder, GARMIN-SHARP, 05h 05′ 50″ + 00′ 18″
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