Tour de France: Cancellara takes yellow on day one

Cancellara was the first rider born in the 1980s to win at the Tour de France and that was in Liege eight years ago when he beat the eventual winner of the 2004 Tour, Lance Armstrong, by two seconds.

This time around he beat one of the favorites for the title, Bradley Wiggins by seven seconds. Each time the Tour has started on foreign soil since he first started winning at the Tour, Cancellara has won on the opening day. He matches Bernard Hinault's efforts of winning on day one five times. The four-time TT world champion will take the yellow jersey again (matching his efforts from Liege in 2004, London in 2007, Monaco in 2009, Rotterdam in 2010).

The defending champion of the Tour, Cadel Evans (BMC) finished in 13th place and his team-mate Teejay van Garderen will wear the white jersey after finishing the prologue in fourth place.The 99th Tour de France began at 2.00pm today in warm, dry conditions. The 198 riders faced a 6.4km time trial around the streets of the Belgian city of Liège. There was an easterly breeze of about 15km/h blowing but there were sections of the course where the funnel effect of the buildings created stronger gusts. There was one intermediate time check, at the half-way mark

The four-time Ukrainian time trial champion Andriy Grivko was the fourth rider to start the TT in Liège. He established the early standard, posting a time of 7'28". He was challenged early by the likes of Cummings (BMC) and Millar (GRM) who, despite being too ill to attend the team presentation, put in an impressive ride to finish 3" behind Grivko. The 68th rider to start was Brett Lancaster (OGE) and the Australian eclipsed the Ukrainian's effort by 4", covering the 6.4km course with an average speed of 51.8km/h. Lancaster's stint in the lead lasted just 10 minutes before Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) took over the hot seat with a time of second minutes 24.330 seconds.

The recently crowned French TT champion Sylvain Chavanel (OPQ) beat Boasson Hagen's time by 4" after covering the course with an average speed of 52.3km/h. Another national TT champion, local favorite Philippe Gilbert (BMC) started out fast - clocking the second best time at 3.2km but he faded in the second half to finish with the fourth best time.
One of the pre-race favorites, Peter Sagan (LIQ) was 9" behind at the 3.2km mark and then, after nearly crashing on a tight left turn - when he had to unclip his left foot in order to save himself from falling - he lost even more time. He finished 17" behind Chavanel. A second favorite lost his chance of success because of a mechanical issue: Tony Martin, the reigning TT world champion posted a time just two 10ths of second behind Chavanel (2nd fastest of the day) but at the 3.5km mark he had to change bikes! He eventually finished a little more than 15" behind his team-mate because of the incident that.

Although Bradley Wiggins (SKY) had only the 10th best time at the 3.2km mark, he reminded everyone why is the favorite for the title in 2012: he's fast! He was five seconds behind Chavanel at the halfway mark but a little over half a second ahead of the Frenchman at the finish. As good as Wiggins was, however, he could do nothing to stop Fabian Cancellara who was a man on a mission in Liege today.


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