Contador Wins Stage 1 of Paris-Nice
Alberto Contador (Astana) has won Stage 1 of Paris-Nice. Contador, who won the race in 2007, dashed over the flat, 9.3-km course in Amilly to win in the rain in 11:05. Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) finished second at 0:07, and Luis-Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) took third at 0:09.
Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) set the early standard. The Frenchman sped through the course in 11:24, and he remained the leader for more than an hour. Eventually, Wiggins outdid Chavanel by 0:12.
When the favorites started, things began to heat up. Tony Martin (Columbia) finished in 11:17 to take second place from Chavanel. (Chavanel would end the day in seventh place.) Sanchez, however, had something to say, and he said it emphatically, riding an 11:14 to bump Martin to third.
When Contador started, his competitors' hopes were dashed. The Spaniard was 0:03 faster than Wiggins at the first time check, and he never let up. By his own admission, Contador surprised himself.
"I am a good time trialist," the Astana man said, "but this was a short distance, a flat course, not really my thing, and then against all those time trial specialists. Moreover, with the rain, I did not take extreme risks in the corners. Of course, everybody had the same bad weather conditions. I am becoming a more complete rider. No, I did not change anything on my position on the bike. It is exactly the same as in 2008."
In the overall, Contador leads Wiggins by 0:07 and Sanchez by 0:09. Stage 2 will be a flat, 195.5-km run from Saint-Brisson-sur-Loire to La Chapelle-Saint-Ursin. Will Astana defend Contador's yellow jersey? Will someone wrest the jersey from him? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!