Alessandro Petacchi Wins Crash-Marred Stage 1 of 2010 Tour de France
Fabian "Spartacus" Cancellara maintains overall Tour de France lead.
Alessandro Petacchi of Team Lampre won Sunday's crash-marred first stage of the 2010 Tour de France, with top sprinting rivals and race favorites like Lance Armstrong delayed by spills. Mark Renshaw (Team HTC-Columbia) finishes 2nd, Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) places 3rd.
Three crashes tangled up riders in the last few kilometers, including a big pileup within the last kilometer that stalled a large bunch including race leader Fabian Cancellara and Lance Armstrong.
The overall standings didn't change. Fabian Cancellara, who won Saturday's prologue, retained the yellow jersey and seven-time Tour champion Armstrong remains fourth, 22 seconds back.
Alberto Contador, the 2009 champion, is sixth, 27 seconds behind, following the 223.5-kilometer trek through flat Belgian and Dutch lowlands from Rotterdam to Brussels.
Top sprinters like Britain's Mark Cavendish, who won six Tour stages last year, and Oscar Freire of Spain, crashed together while negotiating a sharp turn in the last few kilometers.
Then, in the last kilometer, a massive pileup left Lampre rider Petacchi a relatively easy sprint victory ahead of about 20 riders who were able to avoid the spill.
Petacchi hasn't ridden in the Tour since 2004 - a year after he collected four stage victories.
Riders embark on another mostly flat ride Monday for the second stage, a 201-kilometer jaunt from Brussels to Spa.
"Everyone wants to stay at the front, whether or not you're a sprinter. The roads were very narrow, that's why there were a lot of crashes, but I was able to avoid them and I was still third, so it was OK. It was hard, really hard. I am up there for the green jersey, so I am happy," Thor Hushovd told Roadcycling.com after the finish.
Team Garmin's powerful sprinter Tyler Farrar said "Everything was going great, I felt good and the team was riding perfectly. Then, in the last 200 meters an AG2R rider hit my rear wheel and snapped my derailleur. I literally couldn't ride after that and had to walk through the finish and to the bus. Its a shame because everything had gone so well and the team worked so hard for me. I'm glad that we're all ok and I'm lucky that I didn't go down. Tomorrow's a new day and I think its safe to say we're even more motivated now."
The three-week 2010 Tour de France ends on July 25 in Paris.
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Click here for full stage 1 results.