Cancellara takes yellow while Contador confirms favorite status
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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cancellara takes yellow while Contador confirms favorite status

by Steve Jones at 2:15 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Race Reports and Results
Just like he did in 2004 and 2007 Swiss rider and Olympic time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara of team Saxo Bank took the first yellow jersey of the Tour de France during the opening test against the clock in Monaco, besting race favorite Alberto Contador (Astana) by 19 seconds and Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) by a further one second to the line. The 15.5km course that opened with the first 7.5km on a demanding climb brought up questions about whether the former world champion in the discipline could take the win, but after a tough start to the season Cancellara showed he's back and has timed his form perfectly.

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

"Now everyone knows Cancellara is back and he is stronger. We will defend the yellow jersey until the team time trial."

For his efforts the Saxo Bank rider secured both the yellow and green jersey prizes on the day, with Contador securing the climber's polka dot jersey as the fastest rider up the climb and asserting his position as race favorite and team leader on his powerhouse Astana team. Czech Roman Kreuziger confirmed his form coming in 33 seconds behind the leader and taking the race's first white jersey reserved for the best young rider.

The question on everyones mind today was whether seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong would have the form to win the race for an eighth time. Despite finishing behind teammates Contador, Andreas Kloden and Levi Leipheimer, effectively slotting him last in his team's general classification pecking order, he's only 21 seconds off of his Spanish teammate's second place time. And while seconds in difference on a short violent effort like today in Monaco normally translate into minutes in the mountains to come later in the race, the course with it's climb and technical twisting descents will keep everyone guessing since the time gaps were small and the winner needed more than raw horsepower for success.

The general classification contenders, aside from Rabobank's Denis Menchov and Saxo Bank's Frank Schleck, are all within the expected minute of one another with climbers like last year's winner Carlos Sastre and Andy Schleck keeping themselves within reach. Menchov's time was much slower than expected, but he hasn't ridden himself out of the race just yet. The older of the Schleck brothers could also come good in the mountains and take advantage of the race favorites watching his younger brother Andy.

Tommorow's stage will take the race 182 kilometers from Monaco to Brignoles, with the hilly portion of the course in the beginning, it should end up in the first fight for sprint supremacy in this year's race. Columbia-HTC's Mark Cavendish is the likely winner, but he will have a motivated Quick-Step team to contend with as they look to put their leader Tom Boonen on the top step of the podium. With the spring classics behind him, the Belgian will have more finishing speed in his legs than earlier in the season, and could cause a surprise if his stomach issues from yesterday don't effect him.

Stage Results

1. Fabian Cancellara (SUI/SAX) 19:32.(moyenne: 47,6 km/h)
2. Alberto Contador (ESP/AST) at 0:19.
3. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/GRM) 0:20.
4. Andreas Klöden (GER/AST) 0:22.
5. Cadel Evans (AUS/SIL) 0:23.
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA/AST) 0:31.
7. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/LIQ) 0:33.
8. Tony Martin (GER/THR) 0:33.
9. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) 0:38.
10. Lance Armstrong (USA/AST) 0:40.
11. Gustav Erik Larsson (SWE/SAX) 0:42.
12. Mikel Astarloza (ESP/EUS) 0:44.
13. David Zabriskie (USA/GRM) 0:48.
14. David Millar (GBR/GRM) 0:48.
15. Jérome Coppel (FRA/FDJ) 0:52.
16. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA/QST) 0:56.
17. Christian Vande Velde (USA/GRM) 0:58.
18. Andy Schleck (LUX/SAX) 1:00.
19. Linus Gerdemann (GER/MRM) 1:04.
20. Rémi Pauriol (FRA/COF) 1:05.
21. Carlos Sastre (ESP/CTT) 1:06.
22. Vladimir Karpets (RUS/KAT) 1:08.
23. Alessandro Ballan (ITA/LAM) 1:10.
24. Maxime Monfort (BEL/THR) 1:11.
25. Jürgen Van den Broeck (BEL/SIL) 1:11.
26. Laurent Lefèvre (FRA/BBO) 1:12.
27. Michael Rogers (AUS/THR) 1:13.
28. Nicolas Vogondy (FRA/AGR) 1:13.
29. Christophe Riblon (FRA/ALM) 1:14.
30. Juan Jose Oroz (ESP/EUS) 1:14.

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