Cadel Evans has created a huge surprise as he attacked in the last downhill and deprived the sprinters of a possible stage win in Saint-Vallier. The Tour de France champion has showed his form and his fighting spirit at the difference of his arch-rival Andy Schleck who got dropped in the third category côte de la Sizeranne with 10km to go. For one second, the Australian missed out on the yellow-blue jersey that is already back on the shoulders of defending champion Bradley Wiggins.
Bernaudeau on the hunt for polka dot jersey
It didn’t take long until a breakaway took shape after the start given in Seyssins to 175 riders. Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra-EUC), Markel Irizar (Spa-RNT), Nicolas Edet (Fra-COF) and Maarten Tjallingii (Ned-RAB) rode away from the bunch inside the first ten kilometers of racing. As they were reinforced by Sep Vanmarcke (Bel-GRM) and Yukihiro Doi (Jap-ARG), they formed a front group of six men after 12km. They reached a maximum lead of 13.10 at km 45 while they faced a headwind but the gap decreased after a change of direction after 50 kilometres of racing. Bernaudeau was the most active rider in the climbs. He passed the first three KOM prices in first position as he was clearly targeting the polka dot jersey.
S. Sanchez and Fedrigo in pain
Two riders crashed at km 47: Samuel Sanchez (EUS) and Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ). It took twenty kilometers to the Frenchman to make his way back into the peloton but the Olympic champion struggled far behind. As the doctors suspected that he suffered broken ribs, the Spaniard called two of his team-mates in help with the aim of continuing race despite the pain and his deficit growing up to over 23 minutes at the end. Team Sky initiated a serious chase at half way into the race. With the cooperation of riders from Lotto-Belisol, BMC, Orica-GreenEdge and Saur-Sojasun, the gap decreased to two minutes with 25km to go.
Andy Schleck in difficulty, Evans on top form
Irizar was the last of the breakaway riders to get caught by the bunch with 7km to go, after the last climb of the day, the côte de la Sizeranne in which Andy Schleck (RNT) got dropped at the surprise of many observers. Cadel Evans (BMC), Jérôme Coppel (SAU) and Andrey Kashechkin (AST) rode away in the downhill. With 4km to go, they created a gap to the bunch and maintained a lead of four seconds on the finishing line in Saint-Vallier. Evans outsprinted Coppel for the stage win but missed out on the yellow-blue jersey by one second. As prologue winner Luke Durbridge (OGE) didn’t hold the pace of the main peloton in this fast finale, runner up Bradley Wiggins (SKY) moved one step higher. The Englishman didn’t expect to take over from the Australian rookie until the long time trial on stage 4 but just like Evans, his good form puts him on power with the Tour de France being just around the corner.
“It’s funny how times change! Before I’d say, yes, I’m happy to take the yellow jersey. Now I can’t say I’m disappointed but I’d like to ride the time trial on Thursday with my Sky skin suit, so I’d prefer to lose a few seconds by then. What happened today is just a sign of how far we’ve come down. We took the responsibility of the race anyway because GreenEdge didn’t want to completely assume them. The end of the stage was a strange run-in really. There has been a couple of crashes and three guys rode away in the downhill and stayed away.”
“It was a technical descent, quite narrow as well. I saw an opportunity there to go clear off the peloton. You have to try something when you’re in that situation. Normally, it was favourable for the peloton to catch us but they didn’t. I’m a racer, I like to compete and do such moves. Things have to go your way if you try but you have to try something somewhere… This shows that the work I’ve done at training has been good but there’s still a lot of work to be done until the Tour de France.”
1. Bradley Wiggins
2. Cadel Evans, at 0.01
3. Andriy Grivko, at 0.02
4. Carlos Barredo, st
5. Tony Martin, at 0.04
As the bunch crossed the line four seconds behind Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins who preceded the Australian by five seconds on GC is awarded the yellow jersey.
Top 5 of stage 1:
1. Cadel Evans
2. Jérôme Coppel
3. Andrey Kaschechkin
4. Nacer Bouhanni
5. Tony Gallopin
Luke Durbridge came in a second group. He’s no longer the race leader.
Cadel Evans wins stage 1 in a three-man sprint.