Cancellara Clinches Yellow in Tour de France Opener
6/30/12 - RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK is off to a great start in the 99th Tour de France with a dominating win in the opening prologue by Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara. Rolling out of the start house second-to-last, Cancellara posted the best time by one-second at the mid-course check point and continued to ramp up his performance to claim the win by seven-seconds. With the win comes the first yellow jersey, mirroring his win in 2004, also in Liège, Belgium, when he made his debut in the Tour de France with a prologue win and yellow jersey as a 23-year old.
Cancellara: “I have memories today of winning 8 years ago and that was very special. When you are 23 and win, then 8 years later do it again, it’s a very special thing for me, my family and especially for the team. This is a great opening for our Tour. A lot of pressure went away with this win. But we all want success and success is never easy. The whole team did a big effort.”
Second place went to Britain’s Bradley Wiggins of Sky with third to went to Sylvain Chavanel of Omega Pharma-QuickStep. At 6.4 km/4mi the course was located in the heart of Liège. With long straight-aways giving way to serpentine turns in the last kilometer, Cancellara displayed focus and determination on the bike, winning a stage he had targeted for many months.
It was Cancellara’s fifth Tour prologue victory and his 22nd yellow jersey on Saturday, and with the Tour jersey comes the trophy of a stuffed lion: “I was thinking of my family today, of my daughter and my wife Stefanie who is expecting our second child later this summer. I’m happy to have a lion to take home for the next baby. Home is the basis for everything, more than my training or the team. My family is most important and I’m proud.”
The four-time world champion and reigning Olympic champion looks to the stage ahead, designed for the sprinters. Cancellara: “Now the Tour can start for us and you will see RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK at the front. This win gives me confidence for what is coming in the days ahead, especially after my crash earlier this year. It’s just great. I’m proud to be in yellow now. I won’t say yellow gives you wings, but I will do my best to defend the jersey.”
Van Garderen Wins White Jersey
BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen finished fourth and earned best young rider honors and Philippe Gilbert was ninth as the BMC Racing Team put five riders in the top 25 in the prologue Saturday and began defense of Cadel Evans's Tour de France title. Van Garderen had one of the strongest rides in the second half of the course that wound through the streets of Liège. Only 16th at the intermediate check, he powered his BMC timemachine TM01 across the line for what was then the second-fastest time. The silver medalist at the U.S. national time trial championships said it was nice to earn best young rider honors, but it's not part of his overall plan for the three-week race. "It's an incredible feeling," he said. "I haven't gotten the adrenaline going like that coming down the start ramp since I was a junior. But we have one goal at this race and that's to get Cadel to the top step in Paris. This is a nice little treat for me and the team, but it's not really something we're aiming for."
Evans Happy To Get Things Started
Evans was the last of the 198 starters to complete the 6.4-kilometer race against the clock and finished 13th, 17 seconds off the winning time of Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan). The former world road champion called it a "not good, but not bad" performance. "You never want to lose time to any GC (general classification) rider and I lost time to one, but I was sort of expecting that," Evans said, referring to prologue runner-up Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling). "But it's six kilometers out of 3,500 or so, so in that regard it's a small comparison. I'm happy to get things started and I'm feeling good." Van Garderen's time was 10 seconds off the winning time, while Gilbert, the Belgian national time trial champion, was three seconds slower.
At 198km/123mi, Stage 1 on Sunday begins in Liège and ends in Seraing.