Wow, the first Tour in over 40 years to start without a prologue and we get all the main players (bar one) fighting it out until the finish line with the top 30 looking like a who’s who of cycling. Kirchen, Ricco, Evans, Schleck, Friere, Pereiro all in the top 10 and Millar, Sastre, Hushovd, Cancellara, Schleck (Andy), Vande Velde, Schumacher, Cunego, Zabel and Menchov not far behind. The real winner is Alejandro Valverde who is the first rider to wear yellow. Who ever said cycling races were boring. This is very early days but a definite showing of hands today. The more cany riders are probably those who finished near the front but don’t have to defend the jersey or face the press tomorrow. So far the only favourite to lose out was Mauricio Soler of the Barloworld team. The Columbian couldn’t hold on and settled for 171st place a full 3 minutes and 21 seconds down already. Doubtless his time will come when things start to head up in the mountains, but how much time will he have lost by then? UPDATE: Soler went down in a crash and its possible he may have refractured the wrist that he damaged in the Giro. In the same crash super-domestique Yaroslav Popovych went down but apparently Cadel Evans Lieutenant suffered no ill effects.
High winds resulted in a nervy stage as riders were accutly aware that crashes could mark the end of their tour. This probably accounts for all the favourites near the front to a certain extent but none the less its an exciting start.
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 4.36.07 (42.91 km/h) 2 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux 0.01 3 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 4 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia 5 Riccardo Riccò (Ita) Saunier Duval - Scott 6 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto 7 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC - Saxo Bank 8 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas 9 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 10 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 11 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 12 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Saunier Duval - Scott 13 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Quick Step 14 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC - Saxo Bank 0.07 15 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole 16 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC - Saxo Bank 17 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC - Saxo Bank 18 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30 19 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 20 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 21 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre 22 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram 23 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step 24 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 25 Manuel Beltran Martinez (Spa) Liquigas 26 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 27 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram 28 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team Columbia 29 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia 30 Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale