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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 July, 2004, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
Cancellara edges Armstrong
Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara
Fabian Cancellara rode superbly to beat defending champion Lance Armstrong in Saturday's Tour de France prologue.

The unfancied Swiss rider clocked six minutes 50.94 seconds over the 6.1km Liege course, the third-fastest ride ever in a prologue, to pip Armstrong.

But the American will be pleased after finishing ahead of Jan Ullrich, Tyler Hamilton and Iban Mayo, who are all expected to push him for the crown.

The Texan is aiming to take a record sixth successive Tour win.

Cancellara, who also took the green jersey as leader of the points classification and the white jersey for best young rider, could not hide his delight after the prologue.

"I'm the happiest man in the world. I don't know what to say" said the Fassa Bartolo rider.

"My aim was to go out there and win today, and I've done it - and beating Armstrong. I can't believe it."

Cancellara averaged 53.561kph over the course - a speed only bettered by Britain's Chris Boardman who clocked 55.152kph in 1994 and 54.193kph in 1998.

In third place was Spaniard Jose Ivan Gutierrez, with Australia's Brad McGee in fourth place at nine seconds behind Cancellara.

I'm satisfied by the way I felt. I felt very, very good
Lance Armstrong

McGee won last year's prologue from Briton David Millar, who is missing this year's race after admitting taking the banned performance-enhancing drug EPO.

Germany's Ullrich finished 15th in 7:07.40 while Hamilton was 18th, 16 seconds behind Armstrong and Mayo was 19 seconds behind in 26th.

Armstrong said beating his main Tour de France rivals was a satisfactory way to begin his bid for a sixth crown.

"I'm satisfied by the way I felt. I felt very, very good," he said. "I'm disappointed to lose but it was only by a couple of seconds and that's the way it goes sometimes."

"I have to be honest and say that I was a little surprised about Ullrich.

"But Jan, he will be super. Trust me. It's only the first six kilomotres and the first day. There's a long way to go."

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