Stage 1: Fromentine - Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile ITT

ZABRISKIE!

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keyhole.stage1.c.jpgThe opening stage may not matter too much in the long run in terms of time, but in terms of gamesmanship, it's all about showing who's on form and who's not. Riders often hold back on their performances in the races leading up to the Tour, relying on them for training instead. Armstrong, for example, rode the 2005 Tour de Georgia in support of Tom Danielson and he made no serious attempt at the win in the Dauphine. Ivan Basso hasn't been seen in a race since the Giro, so his condition was an even bigger unknown. A strong performance by one of the contenders, namely Armstrong, can easily demoralize the rest of the field and cause them to shift their goals. This year's Tour, in particular, offered a bigger chance than usual to make a big statement. While most Tours start with a short 5-10km prologue, where the end-of-day time gaps are small, this year starts with a mini time trial of 19km, which even allows for the chance the a rider could wear the yellow jersey from start to finish.

So what were today's statements?


photoThe opening time trial was a great win for American cycling: Dave Zabriskie, who started too early in the day to even be featured on TV, set a fast mark that most of the field couldn't even get within a minute of. One exception was Lance Armstrong, who finished two seconds back and at this point already looks set to win his seventh Tour de France. Zabriskie, while not contending for the overall, earned the special distinction of having won a stage in all three grand tours (Tour, Giro, Vuelta) -- all in the past year.

Ullrich started a minute ahead of Armstrong, but things stated to look bad for Armstrong's rival when the referee started pulling away Ullrich's support car to make room for Armstrong's advance. Armstrong caught sight of Ullrich around the first time check and then easily caught and passed him. Despite having the fastest time at the second time check, Armstrong wasn't able to win the stage, so he loses his chance at making history by wearing yellow from start to finish. However, Armstrong will go into Stage 2 with a 1'06" lead on Ullrich and a 1'24" on Basso. Although Ullrich ceded less time than Basso, it had to be the most demoralizing to him as he watched Armstrong easily zoom past him.

Of Armstrong's big rivals, Vino looks the best at only 0'51" back. Given this performance, future stages may have Ullrich working for Vino.

Another American with a big day was George Hincapie. He stayed on form from his Dauphine time trial win and came in 4th, 0'57" back of Zabriskie. Discovery Channel overall did very well, with four riders finishing in the top 20 (even their 'climber' CheChu Rubiera). CSC also did well with four riders in the top 20, but their top man Basso was #20.

  1. Zabriskie David, CSC, USA
  2. Armstrong Lance, Discovery, USA 0'02"
  3. Vinokourov Alexandre, T-Mobile, KAZ 0'53"
  4. Hincapie George, Discovery, USA 0'57"
  5. Bodrogi Laszlo, Credit Agricole, HUN 0'59"

Stage profile and my live stage log from the stage are in the extended.

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Live Stage Log

so it begins

Prediction: I'm rooting for Zabriskie.

Zabriskie is currently first on the day (20:51)

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Update: Z's still #1 by almost a minute over Vino.

Update: And they're all off, and Armstrong managed to pull his foot out of the pedal right out of the starthouse. Hincapie came in #3 but no one is close to Z's time yet.

Update: Basso and Ullrich are way off of Z's first checkpoint time, Armstrong came in only 3 seconds down Z's time through the first check. Armstrong may catch up with Ullrich!

Update: Armstrong is catching Ullrich!

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Update: Armstrong is blowing past Ullrich! He's 3 seconds faster than Zabriskie through the second time check.

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Update: Basso 22:17 (Zabriskie 20:51). Basso will lose over a minute to Armstrong.

Update: Armstrong comes in at 20:53. ZABRISKIE!

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related articles: Tour de France 2005
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