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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 July, 2003, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Time trial agony for Millar
Prologue: Eiffel Tower - Eiffel Tower - 6.5km.

David Millar races across the finishing line for the prologue
Millar's time was ruined when his chain slipped
David Millar's hopes of winning the Tour de France prologue were shattered when the chain came off his bike near the finish of the stage on Saturday.

The incident cost the Briton - who won the 2000 Tour prologue - several seconds and he was edged into second by Australia's Brad McGee by just 0.140 seconds.

The rider finished in a time of seven minutes 26.160 seconds to claim the first yellow jersey of the centenary Tour.

Defending champion Lance Armstrong produced a solid start to his campaign for a fifth successive Tour win as he finished seventh with a time of 7 mins 34 secs.

Haimar Zubeldia, riding his first Tour, claimed a surprise third place. He led for nearly an hour until the final few riders finished, when first McGee and then Millar beat his time.

The dream of dreams is to hold on to the jersey as long as possible
Brad McGee

Millar rode the first half of the course five seconds quicker than any of the other riders and as he entered the final few hundred metres the Cofidis rider looked odds on to claim the leader's yellow jersey.

However, as he rode across a cobbled section the chain slipped off his bike, causing him to lose several seconds.

He immediately lent down and flicked the chain back on to the cog but his momentum had stalled, enabling McGee to hold on to first place.

"I'm really happy for winner Bradley McGee but I'm really angry about what happened," said Millar.

Haimar Zubeldia was the long-time leader
Haimar Zubeldia was the long-time leader
"After crashing in the 2001 Tour de France prologue I've learned that things can change in a split second but it's hard to accept losing like that.

"Fortunately there are still three weeks of racing to go."

Jan Ullrich - the 1997 winner and one of the few riders capable of threatening Armstrong's overall dominance - produced a fine ride to finish fourth, just two seconds off the pace.

Armstrong admitted he had not performed to his potential.

"I'm a little disappointed. I went as hard as I could but I didn't ride as well as I expected," he said.

"It's my fault for not coming into Paris to ride the course yesterday but that was my decision.

"I probably started too slow and was three or four seconds down after just the first kilometre.

"It was a hard course. The cobbles made it uncomfortable and it felt like you were struggling the whole time."

McGee was delighted to get his hands on the yellow jersey.

"It's like being in another world. It feels great," he said.

"The dream of dreams is to hold on to the jersey as long as possible."

Links to more Tour de France 2003 stories


BBC Five Live's Simon Brotherton
"The prologue produced an incredibly tight finish"




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