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Page last updated at 19:03 GMT, Saturday, 4 July 2009 20:03 UK

Cancellara wins first Tour stage

Date: 4 July - 26 July
Coverage: BBC Sport website: text commentary of each stage and streamed BBC commentary of the last 90 minutes of each stage available; commentary on selected stages on BBC 5 Live sports extra

Fabian Cancellara
Saxo Bank rider Cancellara is an Olympic time trial gold medallist

Fabian Cancellara powered to victory in the opening time trial of the Tour de France as seven-time champion Lance Armstrong made his return to the race.

Armstrong's time of 20 minutes and 12 seconds for the 15.5-km time trial around Monaco was 40 seconds behind the winner as he finished in 10th place.

Briton Bradley Wiggins was third, 19 seconds behind Cancellara and one slower than Spain's Alberto Contador.

Mark Cavendish was well off the pace, a good three minutes behind the winner.

Cavendish, who won three Giro d'Italia stages, was never expected to figure in the reckoning, but the Briton could feature on Sunday's 187km stage from Monaco to Brignoles, when there is possibility of a sprint finish.

The major story of Saturday's stage was Armstrong's return and the American produced a solid ride.

The Astana rider went out relatively early and held first place at one point, although he was soon displaced by Germany's Tony Martin before team-mate Levi Leipheimer took the lead.


"I did not have big illusions," said the 37-year-old Armstrong, who last rode the Tour in 2005.

"I was a bit nervous but it is logical. I'm just happy to be here even if we don't win because there are a lot of other things I could be doing right now.

"It is a difficult course for sure but I think it is difficult for everybody. It is very technical, it is hard to find a rhythm but that's logical after years away.

"What a beautiful race. It was fun. I felt pretty good, overall, I feel good. I was a little bit all over the place."

Leipheimer, with a time of 20 minutes and three seconds, remained in the lead until another Astana rider, Andreas Kloden produced a brilliant ride to lead by nine seconds.

However, many of the stage favourites were among the last to depart and the lead changed hands several times over the final few minutes.

Wiggins was extremely impressive and led briefly but Contador, who was quickest all day through the split, defeated him by one second.

And the double Olympic champion Wiggins believes he has a chance of wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour's first week.

"My goal in the first week is yellow and after that we'll see," said Garmin-Slipstream rider Wiggins, who believes the team trial in Montpellier on Tuesday could be key to his yellow jersey hopes.

"If we can stay in touch in the next few days and have a good team trial there is a chance to take yellow."

Swiss time trial champion Cancellara set a blistering pace through the final section to claim the stage and with it the yellow jersey.

"I was one of the favourites to win here before the race and I knew if I got things right it would be very difficult for my rivals to beat me," said Cancellara.

"That was special motivation. To be back in the yellow jersey again is a great achievement both for me and my team, I am proud of it.

Lance Armstrong rides during the time trial in Monaco
Armstrong had a solid ride on his return to the Tour

"Now everyone knows Cancellara is back and he is stronger."

Australian Cadel Evans, one of the pre-race favourites, ensured he did not lose too much time with a fifth-place finish, 23 seconds behind Cancellara.

The stage was largely uphill for the first 7.5km, before some technically challenging descents took the field towards the finish.

And it proved to be a disaster for Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov, who was overtaken by Cancellara and finished one minute and 32 seconds behind the winner.

Briton David Millar finished a creditable 13th, 48 seconds behind the winner, while Charlie Wegelius was 89th.

Defending champion Carlos Sastre of Spain was 21st, more than one minute off the pace.

The 96th Tour goes through six countries before finishing on 26 July in Paris after a race of 2,150 miles.

Stage One result:

1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Saxo Bank) 19mins 32sec
2. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) +18 secs
3. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) +19 secs
4. Andreas Kloeden (Ger/Astana) +22 secss
5. Cadel Evans (Aus/Silence-Lotto) +23 secs
6. Levi Leipheimer (US/Astana) +30 secs
7. Roman Kreuziger (Cze/Liquigas) +32 secs
8. Tony Martin (Ger/Columbia) +33 secs
9. Vincenzo Nibali (It/Liquigas) +37 secs
10. Lance Armstrong (US/Astana) +40 secs

Selected others:

21. Carlos Sastre (Spa/Cervelo) +1 mins 6 secs
89. Charlie Wegeluis (GB/Silence-Lotto) +1 mins 49 secs
177. Mark Cavendish (IOM/Colombia) +3 mins 14 secs

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see also
Tour de France stage one photos
04 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Tour de France ones to watch
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Understanding the Tour de France
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Boonen handed late Tour reprieve
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Briton Wegelius gains Tour slot
01 Jul 09 |  Cycling
GB cycling chief backs Tour aim
30 Jun 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish eyes Tour sprint crown
01 Jun 09 |  Cycling
Contador to lead Astana Tour team
25 Jun 09 |  Cycling
Valverde to miss Tour de France
23 Jun 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong confident ahead of Tour
31 May 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong to return with Astana
24 Sep 08 |  Cycling

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