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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 July 2007, 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK
Cancellara claims Tour prologue
World time trial champion Fabian Cancellara
Cancellara was in a class of his own around central London
World time trial champion Fabian Cancellara stormed to victory in the Tour de France prologue in front of massive crowds in central London.

The Swiss, 26, was the only man inside nine minutes, clocking eight minutes and 50 seconds to beat Andreas Kloden.

George Hincapie was third, a fraction of a second ahead of Bradley Wiggins, who was the first Briton to finish.

David Millar finished just outside the top 10 on a scenic 7.9km (five mile) course from Whitehall to The Mall.

Every rider got a huge ovation from up to a million spectators lining the route.

But the loudest cheers were reserved for the British Tour quintet of Wiggins, Millar, Mark Cavendish, Gerraint Thomas and Charlie Wegelius.

However, none of them could match the extraordinary pace of Cancellara, who finished 13 seconds clear of Kloden, one of the overall classification favourites.

"I had more pressure than when I won the Tour prologue in Liege in 2004 ahead of Lance Armstrong," said Cancellara.

The crowd really helped me, I was going out there to do everyone proud

Bradley Wiggins

"This was a great day for cycling. It's just a shame I'm still waiting for my luggage which I lost at Heathrow Airport. But I have the (overall leader's) yellow jersey, it's what matters today."

Pre-race favourite Alexandre Vinokourov finished seventh - just behind Russian pair Vladimir Gusev and Vladimir Karpets - to put himself in a good position.

And contenders Alejandro Valverde and Levi Leipheimer completed the course safely.

That could not be said of Australian Stuart O'Grady, who provided one of the most spectacular images of the day when he crashed and had to change bike before finishing well down the order.

Wiggins was delighted with the support he received as he produced what he called a "perfect" ride.

"I feel 100% satisfaction," he said. "I know I did the best I could do. I am really pleased with my ride. I didn't hit the brakes once on the way round.

"I am really happy to be on the same level as guys like George Hincapie but Cancellara was just on another level. When you lose by 25 seconds, what can you do? I think I have done myself proud really.

"The crowd really helped me, I was going out there to do everyone proud. It was fantastic. What an experience for someone coming from London. It was amazing.

"I never expected this magnitude of people so God knows what the Olympics will be like. This has been such an occasion."

Sunday's first full stage of Le Tour takes the riders from Greenwich to Canterbury, before the race crosses the channel and heads back towards France.


Top 10 result and overall classification after prologue (London, 7.9km):
1. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland / Team CSC) 8 min 50 sec
2. Andreas Kloeden (Germany / Astana ) +13 sec
3. George Hincapie (U.S. / Discovery Channel ) +23
4. Bradley Wiggins (Britain / Cofidis ) +23
5. Vladimir Gusev (Russia / Discovery Channel ) +25
6. Vladimir Karpets (Russia / Caisse d'Epargne ) +26
7. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan / Astana ) +30
8. Thomas Dekker (Netherlands / Rabobank ) +31
9. Manuel Quinziato (Italy / Liquigas ) +32
10. Benoit Vaugrenard (France / Francaise des Jeux) +32


SEE ALSO
On your marks, get set...allez!
07 Jul 07 |  UK News
Le Tour prologue as it happened
07 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Crowds turn out for Tour opening
06 Jul 07 |  Cycling


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