Philippe Gilbert Powers to Victory in Stage 1 of Tour de France 2011
Team Omega Pharma-Lotto's Philippe Gilbert won today's stage 1 of the 2011 Tour de France to take the yellow leader's jersey, while defending champion Alberto Contador lost more than a minute because of a late crash.
contenders, Belgium's Jurgen Van den Broeck lies fifth overall, Team RadioShack's Levi Leipheimer of the United States is 38th, and Briton Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) trails in 50th place -- all six seconds behind the Belgian stage winner.
"It's one of these unfortunate accidents that often occur in the beginning of the Tour de France. Alberto (Contador) is simply unlucky now to be behind some of his opponents to the overall victory but the Tour de France has just begun and luckily, there's a long to Paris from here," Contador boss and Saxo Bank-SunGard team owner Bjarne Riis concluded after the stage.
A total of five crashes took down riders in the nervous debut stage, including Movistar leader David Arroyo of Spain and German Linus Gerdemann, the Leopard-Trek rider who won the Tour of Luxembourg this year.
Belgium's Jelle Vanendert paid for his courtesy. Near the front of the main pack around the 63-kilometer (39-mile) mark, the Team Omega Pharma-Lotto rider held out his left arm to warn those behind him of a roadway median - a gesture that caused him to lose control of his bike. He tumbled to the ground with his helmet bouncing and his sunglasses skidding away, while several others fell in his wake. All of those involved returned to the race.
While the stage was mostly flat, the end was tricky. Riders had to scale the bumpy Mont des Alouettes - a three-kilometer (1.8-mile) hill - up to the finish, so it was not tailor-made for traditional sprinters.
In a break with recent tradition, the Tour de France opener this year was not an individual time trial prologue, with riders instead embarking right away on a full stage. However, tomorrow awaits a team time trial for the Tour riders.
2nd in the General Classification, Evans says he is looking forward to the 23 km team time trial. "It's going to be another important test. Hopefully we can have a repeat of gaining seconds today. That would be the ultimate."
Click here for complete stage 1 results.