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  • Tour de France, Stage One

Sagan storms to opening stage as Wiggins keeps pace

ESPN staff
July 1, 2012 « Izzi on Top in Pretty Polly | Chartbeat test »
Peter Sagan held off Fabian Cancellara to win the opening stage © Getty Images
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Slovakian Peter Sagan claimed the opening stage of the Tour de France in a sprint finish on Sunday, as Bradley Wiggins stayed within the main pack to ensure he did not lose any time on the leader.

Sagan, the 22-year-old making his Tour debut, overhauled the current holder of the yellow jersey, Fabian Cancellara, in the closing stages to secure victory on the 198km stage from Liege to Seraing, with Wiggins' Team Sky team-mate Edvald Boassen-Hagen coming home in third after the trio had made a break for home with about 1.5km remaining.

The pre-stage favourite, Philippe Gilbert, was the best of the rest in fourth.

Wiggins, meanwhile, kept tabs with defending champion Cadel Evans - his biggest rival for general classification victory - to cross the line in the same time, ensuring he remains just seven seconds behind Cancellara in the overall standings.

The day's stage was effectively split into two from the off, as six riders formed a breakaway that moved clear of the main peloton for the first 170km of the race. The main contenders, including Evans and Wiggins, were happy to pace themselves further back - while sprinters including Sagan and Mark Cavendish occasionally popped up to contest the various sprints that occurred during the stage.

The finish to the stage - which featured a sizeable incline - was not suited to Cavendish's skills, however, so he did not contest it; but Sagan underlined his pre-Tour billing as a potential green jersey winner with a strong closing stretch to overhaul Cancellara and fend off Boasson Hagen.

Tour de France, Stage 1, Liege - Seraing
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 4:58:19
2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
6. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
8. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin - Sharp
9. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Sharp
10. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep

General classification after Stage 1
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan - 5:05:32
2. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky Procycling - +0:00:07 seconds
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep - +0:00:07
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team - +0:00:10
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling - +0:00:11
6. Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team - +0:00:13
7. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team - +0:00:13
8. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team - +0:00:17
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale - +0:00:18
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Sharp - +0:00:18

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