Gustav Larsson Powers to Time Trial Victory in Stage 1 of 2012 Paris-Nice
Gustav Larsson beat British rider Bradley Wiggins by one second to win the opening stage of the Paris-Nice 2012 race earlier this afternoon.
Team Vacansoleil's Gustav Larsson beat British rider Bradley Wiggins by one second to win the opening stage of the Paris-Nice 2012 race earlier this afternoon.
The Swede completed the 9.4-kilometer (5.8-mile) time trial route from Dampierre-en-Yvelines to Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse on the outskirts of Paris in 11 minutes, 19 seconds. Veteran American rider Levi Leipheimer finished four seconds behind Larsson in third place.
"I wasn't really sure of myself because it was only my second race this season. My legs were very hard, but it was enough," said Larsson, who expects to struggle to retain the yellow jersey when the race reaches the mountains later this week. "We will see, it's very hard when you get to the big mountains, but we will try to hang onto it for as long as possible."
Larsson, a silver medalist in the time trial at the Olympics in Beijing four years ago, started in the middle of the field and had better racing conditions than 2nd place finisher Wiggins, who was the penultimate rider to set off under light rain.
Leipheimer, who moved from Team Leopard-Trek to Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep before the start of this season was happy with his performance in today's time trial - his first race in a while.
"Normally after a couple of races I will be better. In any case I'm among the best today, not far from the victory. The parcours were really fast and the climb at the beginning was really like a shock to the system. Now we go into the race. Paris-Nice is always dangerous."
"First of all I want to stay out of trouble and then help Tony (Martin) to fight for the victory. Tony is the captain here, he has the number one on his back and we will try to put him in the best position in the GC before the last TT," Leipheimer promissed.
"My goal is the GC (overall classification)," Team Sky captain Wiggins said after completing today's time trial and added "I took no risks in the bends."
Andy Schleck, one of the favorites for this year's Tour de France, had a poor day and finished 1:01 back in 142nd place.
German rider and time trial World Champion Tony Martin, who won the Paris-Nice race last year, finished 25 seconds off the lead in 28th place.
"I had bad legs today right from the start," Martin commenting after crossing the finish line and added "I couldn't feel good I don't know why. I did everything [I could], I had a good warm up and I was motivated but I wasn't able to do the race I was expecting to do. It was just a bad day. I wanted to fight for the stage victory, but every race is different, I have to accept it."
Martin rode the time trial in rainy condition and the wet roads likely contributed to the disappointing performance. Additionally, Martin has suffered from knee problems over the past months as a result of changing to the pedal system used by his new Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.
"In the descent I couldn't produce my power. If you can't go full gas you start thinking that maybe it is better to avoid risks. For sure I lost some seconds on the descent, but it can't be used as an excuse. In any case I will fight in the next days. Everything is still possible in a race like Paris-Nice," Martin concluded.
Monday's second stage is a mostly flat trek over 185.5 kilometers (115 miles) from Mantes-la-Jolie to Orleans.
The Paris-Nice race ends in Nice on Sunday, March 11.