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A flat stage with strong winds and plenty of rain doesn't sound like optimal conditions for a rider like Ivan Basso, but maybe someone forgot to tell him. In any case, the Tour de France runner-up seemed to completely disregard these facts when he took the first stage and the yellow jersey in the Tour of Denmark, writes Susanne Horsdal.
"Of course it's not nice (the weather), but it's the same for everybody and I'm in good form," said a delighted Basso after winning in his first appearance in a Danish UCI-registered race.
In the first 210-kilometre long stage from Skive to Skive it was - as seen so often before - Jens Voigt who took the initiative when he broke away after only seven kilometres. The German was soon joined by Niels Scheunemann from Rabobank and Chocolade Jacques' Wesley van Speybroeck, and the three of them quickly opened a substantial gap to the peloton. With about 50k's to go, Voigt took off on his own, but ran out of steam when entering the final three 4.2-kilometre laps in Skive.
"I was quite optimistic that I would make it, but I died a little bit with 30 kilometres to go, but I'm still pleased with my performance today," said the ever-aggressive Voigt, who ended up paying with a time loss of 6-23.
While Voigt was toiling at the front, Basso had a much easier day in the peloton, surrounded by his team-mates, who kept him out of the wind. On the penultimate lap the Italian took matters into his own hands and launched an attack that no one could answer. To the immense joy of the thousands of Danish Ivan Basso fans, the CSC star showed everybody that he's not just in Denmark to do laps of post-Tour honour.
"I was surprised that he attacked, but right from before the Tour when he said he wanted to race here, he also said that he wanted to ride for a big result. The past week he's been very motivated to show the Danish spectators who he is, and it's just great that he did what he did - I honestly hadn't expected that," said smiling CSC team manager Bjarne Riis.
Not one to make big speeches about triumphs to come, Basso wouldn't say if he'll be able to hold the leader's jersey throughout the race. "The team is strong, the tactics are up to Bjarne Riis but I'm ready," was as far as the Italian would go. However, Basso has already researched the final laps of stage three, which includes a short but tough climb with an average gradient of 21 per cent.
Stage 1, Skive-Skive
1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 208.5km in 4.55.13
2 Andre Greipel (Ger) Wiesenhof 0.09
3 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) CSC
4 Jens Erik Madsen (Den) Glud & Marstrand
5 Paride Grillo (Ita) Panaria
6 Nicki Sorensen (Den) CSC
7 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Ag2r
8 Pedro Horrillo (Spa) Rabobank
9 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r
10 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
13 Steve Cummings (GB) Landbouwkrediet
Meanwhile, the prologue stage of the latest ProTour event, the ENECO Tour, was also affected by rain, leading to an unexpected victory for Quick Step's Rik Verbrugghe in Mechelen. The veteran Belgian's time for the 5.7km course was the fastest as the favourites prepared to go off, but sudden rainfall meant that all of the later starters had to ride more cautiously, leaving Verbrugghe the winner.
"I'm really happy with my result today - both for the team and myself," said the Quick Step rider. "At the beginning of the season I worked a lot in order to demonstrate not only to myself but also to those that had faith in me that I was still a winning athlete. I haven't been a protagonist during my races, but I still didn't give in.
"I did a lot of training during the Tour de France, training that didn't take me far away from my family and I stayed relaxed. Now I'll be trying to keep the jersey. It will be difficult as the competition is very tough but the next stages really are suited to my style of racing and, as always, I can count on help from my team-mates."
1 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 5.7km in 6.45
2 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Liberty Seguros 0.01
3 Servais Knaven (Hol) Quick Step 0.02
4 Uwe Peschel (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.03
5 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel
6 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Domina Vacanze
7 Benoit Joachim (Lux) Discovery Channel
8 Bram Schmitz (Hol) T-Mobile
9 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank
10 Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel) Discovery Channel 0.04
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