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Sunday, July 12, 1998 Published at 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK

Boardman retains yellow jersey

Chris Boardman has retained his yellow jersey

Belgian Tom Steels has won the first stage of the Tour de France in Dublin on Sunday although Britain's Chris Boardman retained the yellow jersey.

Steels, in his Belgian champion's colours, fought off second-placed German Erik Zabel and Australian Robbie McEwen, third, in a mass sprint finish of the 180.5km-leg in Phoenix Park.

[ image: Tom Steels took the green jersey after winning the first stage]
Tom Steels took the green jersey after winning the first stage
Steels, 26, took the green jersey as points leader.

His victory wiped away his bitter memory of last year's Tour when, frustrated at other riders' tactics in a mass finish in Marennes, he hurled his plastic drinking bottle at another rider.

He was subsequently thrown out of the race.

The Tour started Dublin for the first time in its history, following the time trial prologue around the city on Saturday, which was won by Boardman.

[ image: The Tour de France is spending three days in Ireland]
The Tour de France is spending three days in Ireland
Jacky Durand of France and Paul Van Hyfte of Belgium built up enough of a lead earlier on to pose a threat to Boardman but the two men were eventually reeled in.

Boardman's GAN team and defending champion Jan Ullrich's team led the chase and the field regrouped as riders jostled for position as the pace quickened near the finish.

Boardman's team-mate Eddy Seigneur put in a late burst to take the sting out of any possible attack and sprint star Mario Cippolini of Italy lost any hope of a stage win when he was pulled down in a six-man pile-up.

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