July 6/03 11:16 am - Tour Stage 1 Report
Posted by Editor on 07/6/03
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After the Prologue, everyone who picked Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com) got a large number of points, since he took the Yellow Jersey and the Points Jersey as well as the stage victory. However, before everyone goes in and changes their picks - keep in mind that after tonight you are locked into theose picks for the rest of the Tour...
Tour de France
Stage 1 - Saint-Denis (Paris) to Meaux 168 km
Alessandro Pettachi (Fassa Bortolo) has won the first stage of the 2003 Tour, while the main contenders were caught behind a crash in the final 500 metres.
Today's stage featured three intermediate sprints for time bonuses and three KoM climbs (each Category 4). After the first sprint (at 19 kilometres), three riders broke away - Andy Flickinger (Ag2r), Christophe Mengin (FDJeux.com) and Walter Beneteau (Brioches). The gap grew quickly, and was up over 9 minutes with 80 kilometres covered. This was too much, and the peloton began to work a little harder to reel them back in. The breakaways were finally caught, although Flickinger held on a little longer on his own before being captured with 11 kilometres to go, after 138 kilometres at the front. The sprinters teams began to drive the pace after everyone was back together.
Team Telekom's Eric Zabel had some bad luck at exactly that moment, requiring a rear wheel change, but the peloton eased up as Flickinger was caught, and Zabel's team sent back four riders to pace him back up. After this, it was a run into the finish in Meaux. All the top sprinters were at the front, but Jose E. Gutierrez (Kelme) pulled his foot out with less than 500 metres to go, causing a huge pileup which only 15-20 avoided. In the sprint it was Giro sprinting star Pettachi (with 6 stage wins) who easily held off Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) and Zabel to take the stage.
All the main GC riders were caught behind the crash but, because it was in the final kilometre, all were credited with the same time. McGee has held onto his yellow for another day, and his team mate Mengin takes the Climber's Jersey.
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 3:44:33
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom
4 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon